The green tea powder known as matcha has been enjoyed for centuries in Japan. It’s becoming more and more popular around the world, finding its way into everything from lattes to cookies to smoothies in recent years. Here, Go Ahead Tours President Heidi shares her moment of matcha discovery while in Japan, and how to use matcha to make tea.
Wondering what exactly matcha is? It’s the finely ground powder made from green tea leaves. These leaves are grown in the shade for just three weeks before being harvested. While being processed, the stems and veins of the leaves are removed so they can be ground into a fine powder.
Kyoto is one of the areas in Japan that’s most famous for its matcha production. “I purchased my matcha in Kyoto after visiting the Sagano Bamboo Forest in the town of Arashiyama,” says Heidi. “I wandered into a tiny shop where the owner invited me in, and showed me her tea leaf grinder and the process for making matcha. She only spoke a few words of English, but communicated through passion and heart. She taught us that the way to enjoy matcha is by having a piece of dark chocolate first, which I can attest makes it magical in flavor!”
Though it’s a bit different than adding hot water to a cup with a tea bag, making matcha tea isn’t hard. All you need to make it at home is water, matcha, a measuring spoon, a bowl, and a bamboo whisk.
Scoop about 2 teaspoons of matcha powder into your bowl.
Heat water to just below boiling. This is the optimal temperature for making sure the flavors of the matcha come through.
Add a splash of hot water to your bowl to loosen up the powder. Whisk it until it becomes a creamy, thick paste.
Then, slowly pour the rest of the water in and whisk in a zig zag motion until it becomes foamy.
Sip and enjoy! Matcha tea is traditionally made with just these ingredients, but you can add a bit of your favorite type of milk if you’d like.
Don’t have a matcha set? You can find them online, or plan to look for one while on a Japan tour. “I purchased my matcha set on an amazing street in Tokyo called Kappabashi Dougu,” says Heidi. “It’s a cook’s paradise! You’ll find any kitchen item you can imagine—chopsticks, matcha sets, colorful dishes—in the shops there.”
There are many different grades of matcha, ranging from ceremonial (high quality, reserved for traditional Japanese tea ceremonies) to culinary (which is excellent for use when cooking). Premium grade is what you’d likely be able to find in the grocery store. Look for a bright green color—this type of matcha will be naturally sweet with a subtle grassy flavor.
“I fell in love with matcha while in Japan and then later after learning about all of its health benefits,” says Heidi. It’s packed with antioxidants, rich in fiber, and detoxifies naturally. The caffeine in matcha also has an energizing effect, and many people find it enhances their concentration, metabolism, and mood.
Have you ever tried matcha tea? Show us how you make it at home with #goaheadtours on social media!