It’s not a huge hassle to drive to the local grocery store and buy your produce—but isn’t it better and healthier to grow your own?
In terms of produce, if you have the gardening space, right weather conditions and a green thumb, definitely go for it. Fresh herbs and veggies make a huge difference in your meals. They tend to be more nutritious and delicious.
But what about Matcha? Is this green tea something you can and should grow on your own?
How to Grow Matcha
To grow your own Matcha plant, here are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Choose where to plant your Matcha plant. Keep in mind the plant will mature to around 5 feet in diameter and your plant needs to be at minimum 12 feet away from other plants. You also need to choose a shaded area, as lots of sunlight is bad for Matcha plants. If you don’t have a completely shaded area, you can shade your plant with vinyl sheets or bamboo mats. Also, choose an area that has good soil. Matcha requires rich soil that drains well, but also retains a decent amount of water.
Step 2: Now it’s time to dig a hole to place your plant in. Make sure your hole is at least three times as wide and deep as your Matcha container.
Step 3: Once you’ve planted your plant and filled it in with soil, add a few inches of mulch around it. Matcha requires very moist soil to grow, and mulch helps soil retain its moisture.
Step 4: Next you want to add some fertilizer to the soil. Fertilizer should only be added when first planting, and maybe once every six months after initially planting your Matcha. Be cautious how much fertilizer you use, though, as too much fertilizer can rot the plant’s roots.
Step 5: Harvest your Matcha plant’s leaves. Pluck only the youngest leaves, which usually means the three terminal leaves, and then immediately after plucking, steam your tea leaves. Steaming stops fermentation before drying. Traditionally, Matcha harvesting happens once a year at the beginning of May.
Once you’ve harvested your Matcha, your job isn’t done just yet. Next, you have to lay your Matcha leaves out flat to dry. Once the leaves are dried, you have to remove all the vines, stems and buds, and then stone grind each leaf into a fine powder. This may not sound like a lot, but just the grinding of the leaves into fine powder can take up to one hour for just 30 grams of Matcha. Grinding faster creates heat that damages the delicate flavor and nutrition.
These steps are more of a rough sketch of what it really takes to produce Matcha. On average, it takes between three and five years to cultivate good growing soil and grow tea trees before those trees can produce good Matcha tea leaves.
Why You Should Buy Your Matcha
As you can see, the process of growing Matcha is both complicated and time-consuming—not to mention the correct growing conditions aren’t something everyone has or can make.
The ideal Matcha growing conditions for the best tasting Matcha include:
- A subtropical climate
- Average temperatures between 57 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit
- Wet growing seasons, stable rainfall with a yearly average of 1,300mm or more
- Soil that has good drainage, ventilation, and the ability to retain water with a pH of 4 or 5
- Shaded for weeks before plucking
In most cases, Matcha drinkers’ home climate and soil aren’t suitable for growing Matcha. Without the right technique and farming grounds, your Matcha leaves can become burnt—and you don’t want to drink burnt green tea, or worse yet, have a dead plant.
Unless you live in a subtropical climate that has all of the above growing conditions, it’s best to buy Matcha green tea from those who grow their tea in the optimum growing conditions.