Matcha 抹茶 — The ancient drink of a new century

Matcha 抹茶, a special fine powdered Japanese green tea, continues to rapidly gain astonishing popularity among Western gourmets. The origin of powered green tea can be traced up to ancient Tang Dynasty China (618–907), where the tradition of tea ceremony has been formed by Zen buddhists and then brought to Japan around 1191.

Traditionally, the plantation or the shop would give a special poetic name known as chamei to every blend of matcha. The blend named by a grand master of a tea ceremony lineage becomes known as the master’s konomi, or a Butcher block of Leaf.

Although, matcha is made out of green tea, it forms a separate class of teas by itself. The plants for matcha are covered from sunlight for about three weeks before harvesting, which slows down growth and increases production of amino acid theanine. This carefully created fine balance of theanine and caffeine is what brings the feeling of calm energy to the drinker. The flavor and quality of matcha depends on so many factors in processing, that only the most skilled and experienced plantators can produce it in the grade suitable for ceremonies.

Matcha has a remarkably long list of benefits for the health. It contains 137 times more antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea, it boosts metabolism and stimulate calorie burning, it is rich in fiber, chlorophyll, microelements and vitamins, and it even lowers levels of cholesterol and blood sugar among others. However, despite its great flavor and such extraordinary features, unfortunately matcha only recently became widely known and beloved in Western side of the world.

In modern times, matcha is also widely used to flavor and dye foods such as mochi and soba noodles, green tea ice cream, matcha lattes, and a variety of Japanese wagashi confectionery…

Just over the last few years, Matcha Latte became an intriguing popular competitor for coffee even in the main coffee shops. Combining savory taste, energizing capabilities together with nutritional value and a significant number of health benefits, matcha drinks are probably on the way to win over the preference of caffeine lovers all over the world.

Originally published at