Matcha is one of the 3 powdery types of Japanese tea. The other two are Konacha and Funmatsucha. Konacha is a gathering of fine tea leaf grains of Sencha while Funmatsucha is finely chopped form of Sencha. Both Konacha and Funmatsucha are suitable for eating sushi. Konacha and Funmatsucha are manufactured through the standard processes of Sencha, but Matcha is unique in the way it is cultivated and processed. For details of Konacha, please read “What type of tea is Konacha”.
Matcha is a powdery form of Japanese tea but its base is called Tencha. To manufacture Tencha, tea plants are shaded for 2~3 weeks in prior to picking, so that the tea plants can produce Tencha’s (then later Matcha’s) special umami taste. When new leaves are ready, they are picked, steamed and then dried. In the standard Sencha manufacturing, the tea leaves are massaged（this process is also called “rolling”） between the steaming and drying processes, but the massaging process is not included for Tencha. This makes the qualities of Tencha and Matcha unique. In the final process, Tencha is ground with millstones to make into Matcha.
Matcha is rich in nutrients containing vitamins and minerals, since it is purely made of tea leaf parts without stems and veins. Matcha has also much more umami than Konacha and Funmatsucha which are made of Sencha. This is because Matcha tea trees are grown in shade, which reduces the amount of catechin and increases the amount of theanine. Catechin is the element for bitterness and theanine is for umami. These factors are main reasons why Matcha is used for broader purposes and therefore globally well known. In fact, Matcha is probably one of the best known Japanese tea types in the world. It is traditionally used for tea ceremonies in Japan, but in recent years, Matcha is also used for sweats such as ice cream, cookies and cakes. As Matcha has a distinctive colour and aroma, it can be added to some dishes like tempura and noodles. And, of course, you cannot forget the famous “Match Latte”.
Matcha is made of very fine form of tea powder, so that it dissolves in hot water quite easily. At tea ceremonies, there are two types of Matcha tea are served. One is a thick type called Koicha (濃茶) and the other is a thin type called Usucha (薄茶). To make Matcha tea, use 3 tea spoonful of Matcha for Koicha and 1 tea spoonful for Usucha. Put the specified amount of Matcha in a tea cup and add 95℃hot water. Using the specially designed bamboo whisker, whisk the Matcha solution. The Matcha tea is ready. Please note that these tea making processes are simplified, and that there are more detailed rules in the art of tea ceremony. Also the rules are different depending on tea ceremony schools. Please seek more information, if you are interested in the performance of tea ceremony.