Matcha 抹茶 is the powdered tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony (cha no yu 茶の湯 or Sado 茶道). High quality matcha has a strong and mellow taste, but not astringency or bitterness, contrary to popular belief.
In fact, the growers do not manufacture matcha, but tencha 碾茶. It is in a sort of way like the ara-cha 荒 茶 (see sencha) for other types of Japanese tea, that is an unfinished product, a raw material that will be purchased by wholesalers and converted into finished product. The tencha (which is almost never used as such) will be reduced to powder using millstones to become matcha. Thus, matcha is sometimes called in the tea industry sai-kako-cha 再加工茶, “re-processed tea”. Tencha in 2008, occupied 1.9% of the Japan’s tea cultivated area.
The historical producing area is Kyoto prefecture and Uji city, but there is actually a very important production in Nishio city (Aichi prefecture), essentially dedicated to cooking matcha. Then, even if it is very few quantities, we can find matcha production in other prefectures (Fukuoka, Shizuoka, Kagoshima, Saitama, etc)
Tencha is shaded grow like gyokuro (see gyokuro), so it is a tea which is very rich in theanine, responsible for the tea mellow umami flavors.
1. After picking, the leaves are steamed about 20 seconds to stop the oxidation process.
2. During the next phase, kakusan-reikyaku 拡散冷却 (diffusion and cooling), leaves pass successively in a series of 4 to 5 “chimneys” from 5 to 6 meters high under the influence of a wind tunnel. The tea leaves are thus cooled and freed of moisture due to vapor.
3. Next, the leaves are in the “tencha oven” tencha-ro 碾茶炉 where they undergo two phases of drying on the treadmill, ara-kanso 荒乾燥 (150 ° C), coarse drying ; then hon-kanso 本乾燥 main drying (100 ° C).
4. Sorting: the stems and leaves ribs are sorted from the tender parts of the leaves by cutting and sieving.
5. Last drying phases (neri-kanso 煉り乾燥) at 60 ° C in order not to leave in the leaves 4 to 5% moisture.
Preparation (usu-cha 薄茶, light tea)
No need for any of the tea ceremony ceremonial to enjoy a matcha.
You need a fairly large bowl, and a chasen 茶筅 (bamboo whisk).
Put in the preheated bowl 2g of matcha (it would be better to sift matcha in order to avoid “lumps”).
Then pour 60-70cc of water at 70 ° C.
Beat with the chasen in order to obtain bubbles in the tea (in Japanese we say ocha wo tateru, お茶を立てる, tea raise).
To do this, start by beating the liquid gently scraping the bottom, there still to avoid “lumps”. Then beat vigorously describing “M” without touching the bottom of the bowl this time. Finally, when there was enough foam-bubbles, gently whisk the liquid surface to make bubbles the finest as possible.
(For a more creamy and soft matcha, you can start by putting a little cold water on the powder, 5-10ml, and then mix well before adding the hot water, it also helps not to have to sift the matcha)
See details in picture below.
It is a little difficult at first, but after 3 or 4 times, we catch quickly hand. It is important to keep the chasen soft, flexible between the fingers. The movement should come from the shoulder, elbow and with very soft handle.
* In the case of koi-cha 濃茶, strong tea:
To prepare koi-cha, it is important to have very high quality matcha. Then the difference with the usu-cha is that the proportion of tea is much more important, and thus obtained a syrupy tea, very thick. Also, in this case, we do not say in Japanese “ocha wo Tateru” but “ocha wo neru” お茶を練る, what could be translated as “knead tea” then you understand what this phrase may well have consistency koicha.
For ‘koi-cha’ we use 6g of matcha for only 30-40ml of hot water (add water in 2 times, 10ml first, mix with the matcha well to ovoid lumps, then the rest of the water)
Categories: Types of tea