Certified Organic Matcha from Kyoto, Japan
Our matcha is from the town of Ujitawara, Kyoto. This area, located in an undeveloped natural valley approximately 250m above sea level, is known for their Uji tea and it is also the birthplace of Japanese green tea.
Significant morning and evening temperature differences, misty weather and extremely permeable calcic soil make the area ideal for farming tea. The tea producers maximize the benefits of Nature itself and use no agricultural chemicals. This and using only organic fertilizers allow them to grow safe and reliable organic products.
Organic farming requires tremendous amounts of weeding, especially during the summer, but our tea producers are very proud of being able to offer our very healthy and safe teas for our customers.
Our matcha is certified as an organic product by the Japanese Agricultural Organic Standard (JAS).
Please enjoy our flavourful matcha that was created with the utmost care.
How is Matcha made
Organic tea comprises only 3% of the entire tea production in Japan due to the special efforts it takes to grow and requiring a unique and immaculate environment to be officially ceritified. It is difficult to farm the organic tea as the dispersions of chemical agents from fertilizers and pesticides amalgamated through the soil from surrounding farms can affect the organic farm. This makes it necessary to have a line of trees or shrubs planted to protect the area between an organic tea farm and non-organic tea farms or to embrace organic tea cultivation together with the neighbouring farmers.
The area where the tea is grown is really important. The best Matcha growing producers in Japan are in Kyoto, Aichi and Shizuoka prefectures.
The tea to make Matcha is normally picked between the beginning to the middle of May. About 20 days before the harvest, it is fundamental to start putting the shade over the tea plants from the sun. Traditionally it was done using reeds and then piling straw on top of the reeds, but nowadays it is more common to use fabrics or black vinyl to cover over the leaves. Gradually, over the 20 days, the amount of coverage is increased to add even more shade over the plant so it grows in extremely low light conditions. With this procedure, the plant starts to produce high levels of chlorophyll and maintain a high level of theanine because the shade prevents the theanine to break down quickly into other compounds like tannins. High levels of theanine and chlorophyll are crucial in order to gain the health benefits of Matcha.
The leaves are picked in mid-May. To produce a very dark coloured leaf and be full of theanine and chlorophyll, it has to be steamed for 15 to 20 seconds in order to stop the oxidation process, just like any other green tea. Then the tea needs to dry. At this point, the tea is called Aracha which is the midpoint process to make Matcha tea. The central stem and veins are taken away from the Aracha, which will only leave the meaty part. The size of the leaf must be uniform and then dried again. At this point, the tea leaf is called Tencha. This is when a tea master comes to taste the Tencha from different plantations, or different fields in the same plantation, to taste the different flavours to assess the qualities of the tea leaves. Then the tea master will make blends based on the taste tests and that blend will determine their Matcha tea production of the year. Once the blending process is finished, the Tencha has to be ground into Matcha. For this process, usually, it use round stone mills with a central hole. The Tencha is slowly sent down the hole of the mill, and outcomes micro-fine Matcha powder of under 10 microns. The process of the stone grinding also needs to be at low temperature to prevent it from denaturing the nutrients, or affecting the colour and flavour of the Matcha. This grinding process is very slow and it can take more or less an hour to make about 30 grams of Matcha.
Grades of Matcha
There are three general grades of Matcha: ceremonial grade, standard grade Matcha, and cooking grade Matcha.
There are many different stages in the processing of Matcha, and it needs the right level of attention of detail for the best result. A ceremonial grade tea, the highest grade of the three, needs to be grown under the shade for at least 15 days, be properly deveined, and stone ground at a low temperature to very micro-fine powder. Purchasing Matcha that is organic is important as it involves the consumption of the entire leaf. It is healthier for the body to not ingest any potential fertilizers or pesticides that were sprayed on the plant.
Health Benefits of Matcha
When we brew any tea with water, we only absorb about 35 to 40 percent of the nutrients extracted from the leaves, but with Matcha we are getting 100 percent because we are consuming the entire leaf. It means that all the health benefits of any tea - specifically a green tea - are ramped up and supercharged. If the Matcha antioxidant levels are compared to the levels of a good quality brewed green tea, one shot of Matcha is the equivalent - in terms of antioxidants - as drinking ten to twenty cups of a good quality green tea. It also has high levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin B and minerals.
In addition to these nutrients, the levels of theanine are much higher in the Matcha powder. Theanine is an amino acid found most commonly in tea leaves and it is used to improve mental function, for anxiety, mental impairment, stress, and other conditions. It controls stress by increasing your GABA levels which is a neurotransmitter that acts like a brake on your nervous system to help you relax and calm down. It also improves your mood by affecting your dopamine levels, so you get that feeling of well-being, calmness, and happiness. It improves your cognitive abilities, and makes you more aware and creative by stimulating alpha brainwave activities, radically. Moreover, it boosts your immune system.
The caffeine level of Matcha is the highest compared to any other tea. For those who are caffeine sensitive, we suggest to start with a small amount first and see the reaction. A lot of people drink Matcha now as a coffee replacement.
Matcha contains tea catechin which burns body fat efficiently, so it is useful for obesity prevention and effective for dieting.
Tea catechin removes active oxygen which accelerates aging, thus prevents spots, wrinkles and skin sagging.
Matcha contains theanine in high amount which has a relaxation effect. Matcha has a large theanine content which has a relaxation effect.
Caffeine has an effect of boosting cerebral activation which is said to prevent dementia.
Matcha makes your skin beautiful
The Vitamin C in matcha, together with catechin reduces melanin pigmentation and generates beautiful skin.
Matcha contains fluorine compound that prevents cavities and bad breath.
How to make Matcha
- Prepare hot water around 80℃. Pour hot water into the bowl. Once it is warmed up, discard the hot water.
- Put 2 scoops of matcha in a bowl and about 70 mL of hot water. The appropriate amount is about 1/4 to 1/5 of the bowl.
- First, slowly mix the matcha that has sunk in the bottom to disperse it, then lift the chasen upright and whisk back and forth using your wrist until the bubbles form.
- If you can make fine bubbles on the surface of matcha, it is ready. The taste of tea changes depending on the amount of matcha, the amount and temperature of hot water, and the time it is made.
How to maintain whisk (chasen)
One of the most important features of chasen is the type of bamboo they are made of. Here is a variety:
- Aodake: fresh green bamboo used for New Year ceremonies
- Hachiku: sun-dried white bamboo
- Kanetake: golden bamboo used for everyday chasen
- Kurotake: black-coloured bamboo
- Shichiku or purple bamboo a variety of Kurotake.
The bamboo used for chasen is usually about three years old and is picked in winter. After the harvest, the bamboo is put in dry storage and left there for the rest of the year.
Once the bamboo is ready, the master selects the best ones. Then they are cut into 9-12 cm long pieces and hand-carved into almost ready chasen by the apprentices. At the end of the process, the chasen is handed back to the master for the fine-tuning which consists of curving and threading.
The final shape of the chasen depends on the school, the purpose and occasion, or the type of bamboo it is made of. Usually, the two basic types of chasen are Chu-araho with 70 to 80 rougher bristles used for the thick matcha and Kazuho with up to 120 finer bristles used mainly for the thin matcha.
When you start using a new matcha whisk (chasen), lightly wash it with a bowl, and then blanch it with warm water, not hot as it would damage the bamboo. The soaking will allow the bristles to unfold a bit and it will help to improve the elasticity of the whisk.
After using the chasen, it needs to be soaked again (two or three times) in warm water until the remaining of the powder is gone. It is really important to not use a dishwasher or detergent. When the chasen is completely cleaned, it should be properly dried in a well-ventilated place where it is not exposed to direct sunlight before putting back into its package. It is very recommended to not dry it in an upright position lest excess water may collect in the handle and form mould. It will last a long time if you dry the chasen on a whisk holder (Chasen-Naoshi) so that it can regain its original shape.
The Japanese tea ceremony is a ceremonial way of preparing and drinking matcha typically in a traditional tearoom characterized by tatami floor. Apart from serving and receiving tea, one of the fundamental purposes of the tea ceremony is for the guests to enjoy the hospitality of the host in an atmosphere distinct from the fast pace of everyday life.
Today, the tea ceremony is practiced as a hobby but there are also places where tourists can experience it. Between these, Kyoto and Uji are the best destinations to go to enjoy Japan's tea culture.
It is important to know the history behind the tea ceremony. It is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha, the art of which is called temae. Zen Buddhism was a primary influence in the development of the Japanese tea ceremony. The host serves tea to the guest in accordance with the traditional Japanese style, and the guest receives the hospitality of the host and has tea.
In the tea ceremony, there are various rules for how to make tea, how to have it, how to sit, how to bow, how to stand, and how to walk, and this is called Sahou, which means method in Japanese. Sahou was created to entertain guests and serve tea deliciously, and to allow guests to receive hospitality and enjoy the tea.
Tea ceremony is not just about serving tea to guests and having tea, but it also values the spiritual interaction between the host and the guests. The tea room, garden, room arrangement and the selection of tea and utensils and serving dishes are all arranged in order to achieve that interaction. It can be said that the tea ceremony is a comprehensive form of art that combines both aesthetics and spirituality.
In addition, the spirit of the tea ceremony that welcomes guests is also connected to the spirit of hospitality of modern Japanese people.
Tea came from China, and it is said that Eisai, who brought back tea with Zen Buddhism in the Kamakura period (1185-1333), spread tea with Zen Buddhism nationwide. In the Muromachi period (1392-1491),it was trendy to use the Karamono from China, which were more flashy and gorgeous looking. However, at the same time the use of Japanese tea utensils were gaining popularity. Around this time, Murata Juko (1423-1502) established Wabi-cha, a form that values the spiritual interations with guests, and slowly tea parties with more simple looking utensils became more common. After that, Takeno Jōo (1502-1555) inherited that spirit, and his disciple Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591) completed Wabi-cha in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1603). It is said that this is the cornerstone of today's tea ceremony and chanoyu.
Sen no rikyu also introduced Shiki Shichi Soku, the rules of tea ceremony. Shiki refers to the spirit of Wakei sei-jyaku.
Wa, Kei, Sei, Jyaku form the basic philosophy of Sado, stating the importance of purifying the atmosphere of the ceremony to soothe the guest’s heart.
Wa: open each other’s heart.
Kei: respect each other.
Sei: purify your surrounding and your spirit.
Jyaku: maintain a spirit of quietness.
Shichi soku are the seven rules that the master of the ceremony must follow when welcoming his/her guests.
1- make the tea as if you understand your guest’s feeling.
2- prior to the ceremony, master of the ceremony must be prepared for the ceremony.
3- feel the beauty and the dignity as it is.
4- serve your guests that matches the season.
5- don’t rush the time.
6- be prepared for the worst situation.
7- greet your guests from bottom your heart.
In this way, the root of the tea ceremony can be said to be a lifestyle culture that values the sense of the seasons in a natural way and is based on hospitality and preparation.
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