New To Matcha?

WHAT IS MATCHA?

Matcha is a type of Japanese green tea. And unlike teas you might be familiar with that you get from tea bags or loose leaves, this unique type is finely ground, powdered green tea. The name is quite fitting since Matcha in Japanese means powder, so the meaning of Matcha green tea is literally powdered green tea.

It’s used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony and is grown in shaded tea fields in Japan. Growing under shaded areas is what increases the chlorophyll found in Matcha, which helps give it its green color and some of its nutritional value.

Because of how Matcha tea leaves are grown, they have a rich, mellow taste unlike their counterparts grown in open-air tea fields that receive lots of sunlight. When made in tea form, many say Matcha has a naturally sweet, vegetal taste that’s also bold and bursting with flavor.

Matcha, Oolong Tea, and Black Tea, although there are several kinds of Tea when divided according to processing methods, they all are made from the same tealeaves. Tea (Camellia sinensis) is an evergreen tree plant, belong to Camellia genus in Theacea family.

Vegan_Logo

ORGANIC MATCHA OR NOT?

Many people wonder if it’s organic or not. There are lots of cheap organic Matcha products from China, and expensive ones from Japan in the online market. The color, flavor and price are much better for non-organic, and the residual pesticide regulation is very strict in Japan, so the products made in Japan are quite safe. We’ve never had an issue for this with more than 180 years business in Japan.

Statistically, the organic Matcha production is only a small percentage out of whole Matcha production in Japan. This means the quantity is very limited, so some of the products in the online market are doubtful if they are truly organic or not. For the ones from China, even if they are organic, they aren’t really “Matcha”.

Health Benefits of Ujido MATCHA

The color of clean and health is green, and this green superfood is one of the best to add to your daily diet to improve your overall health and well-being.

When you drink other kinds of green tea, you throw away all the good parts while brewing the tea bag, where all the antioxidants and minerals stay. The majority of these antioxidants and other nutrients are found inside the unused tea leaves. Drinking Matcha green tea that’s made with ground up Matcha tea leaves helps ensure you receive all the antioxidants and nutrients your body needs.

And Matcha is loaded with antioxidants—137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea—as well as other needed nutrients, like Vitamins A and E, dietary fiber and chlorophyll, all of which contribute to its many health benefits.

The chlorophyll in Matcha helps suppress hunger, promotes cleansing and stimulates liver detoxifying enzymes. The amino acid, L-Theanine, is known to improve learning and memory, enhance your resilience to stress, improve the sleep quality of people with ADHD and even help smokers stop smoking. It also slows the release of caffeine into your body so you get an energy boost throughout the day, rather than a quick boost and even quicker crash from drinking a cup of coffee. Tea Catechin found in Matcha nourishes and protects your brain, prevents heart diseases, stimulates metabolism and burns fat and has anti-aging antioxidants that protect skin and reduce inflammation.

Other health benefits of Matcha include:

  • Relaxing and refreshing the mind and body
    Improving focus and clearer thinking
  • Enhancing a person’s overall mood
  • Increasing energy levels and endurance for a longer timeframe than coffee (because it has caffeine and L-Theanine)
  • Boosting metabolism and aiding in weight loss
  • Helping prevent forms of cancer, such as lung, pancreatic and prostate.

Matcha cleanses and rids your body of unwanted harmful elements, and does so in a way that’s safe for your body.

SIDE EFFECTS OF MATCHA

Matcha is generally safe when you consume it in small amounts, especially when drinking it. But because of the caffeine content, this green tea can trigger some side effects, i.e. headaches, insomnia, irritability, nervousness, dizziness, heartburn and an upset stomach. It can also cause an irregular heartbeat, make anxiety worse for people who suffer from an anxiety disorder and increase blood pressure in people who are already prone to high blood pressure.

HOW TO PREPARE MATCHA

The first thing to note about making Matcha green tea is that it’s unlike any other tea you’ve ever brewed. Because it’s a powder, and one that’s pure without any additives or dissolving agents added into it like other drink powders, it doesn’t easily dissolve.

To make Matcha tea the traditional Japanese way, you’ll need the traditional Japanese tea utensils—a tea strainer, bamboo whisk, bamboo tea ladle and a traditional ceramic Matcha bowl—along with your Matcha powder. Use these utensils and follow the ensuing steps to make your Matcha tea:

  • Step 1: Sift ¼-1/2 tsp. of Matcha through the tea strainer into the ceramic bowl, using the tea ladle to press the Matcha through the strainer.
  • Step 2: Add 2 oz. of hot water into the bowl.
  • Step 3: Hold the bowl with one hand and use your other hand to mix the Matcha and water together using the bamboo whisk. Whisk together until there are no clumps, and the liquid mixture becomes frothy and a thick, green foam appears on top of it.
  • Step 4: Slowly remove the whisk from the bowl, drink and enjoy!

If you don’t have the traditional Japanese tools, you can still make Matcha green tea. You can instead use any deep ceramic bowl and a wire whisk or an immersion blender, while still following the abovementioned steps. When made the American way, to help your tea keep its hot temperature we recommend warming your ceramic bowl beforehand in the microwave. And keep in mind that a wire whisk won’t make the foamy top layer as thick. The bamboo whisk is made to create a thick layer, while American wire whisks aren’t, but the flavor remains the same either way.

People who don’t know about Matcha think Matcha is always in a small, 1 oz. tin can and that you should drink it with special tools, such as a bamboo spoon, a bamboo whisk and a Matcha bowl. This is the case when it’s ceremonial grade Matcha and used for ceremony, not just for daily drink. For drinking culinary grade Matcha, there is no need to use special (bamboo) tools.

WAYS TO CONSUME MATCHA

Drinking Matcha as a green tea is the most common way to consume it. But brewing up a hot cup of this traditional tea isn’t the only way you can taste and consume the health benefits of Matcha. And for those of you who may not like the taste of tea but want the health benefits, this is good news for you.

Besides drinking Matcha as a tea, you can also add Matcha powder to hot or iced lattes, cocktails, smoothies, juices and other cold drinks. Mixing it with other drinks and foods helps disguise the taste.

And like we just mentioned, you can also eat Matcha. There are several foods you can find and eat that contain Matcha powder and its health-boosting antioxidants, including Matcha-flavored soba noodles, mochi, certain Japanese desserts and candy (wagashi and manju bean paste candy) and Matcha-jio seasoning.

It’s also easy for you to make your own Matcha-flavored favorite foods. All you have to do is add some of the powder to baked goods, soups, curry, homemade ice cream, popsicles, guacamole and other dishes. You can even use it as a seasoning and sprinkle it on vegetables, oatmeal and popcorn.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT MATCHA

The kind of Matcha you get depends on what you want to do with it. There are various different types of Matcha green tea powder, but the varieties can be separated and distinguished into two grades: ceremonial grade and culinary grade.

Ceremonial grade Matcha is what has been used for centuries in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. It’s the highest-quality green tea powder on the market, as it’s made from the youngest tea leaves and has the stems and veins removed and then the leaves are ground by stone. It’s most used for drinking and creates a thicker-style green tea. It has a vibrant green color, a very fine texture, a very good and naturally sweet and mild flavor and a pure, delicate taste. Ceremonial grade Matcha will smell a little like fresh grass and should never feel gritty. When drinking this type of green tea, you should never add any sweeteners or additional ingredients to it.

Culinary (food) grade Matcha is by no means a low-quality tea; it’s just prepared differently and has different uses and flavor. It should be used for cooking and baking. It can be drank, but because of its robust flavor that’s slightly bitter tasting, its usage is meant to be blended with other ingredients in food and beverage recipes. Culinary grade should be soft to the touch and smell like fresh grass. While it’s not as vibrantly green as ceremonial grade, culinary grade matcha should still be green, and it has a higher antioxidant level than ceremonial grade Matcha.

The latter matcha powder can also be further divided into five grades:

  1. Premium—A good blend of Matcha at a lower price than ceremonial grade that is great for everyday use with blended drinks
  2. Cafe—A fine texture whose strong flavor makes it ideal for baking and cooking with.
  3. Ingredient—Because of its thick consistency, this type is best for using in recipes that contain milk or other dairy products, such as a smoothie or latte.
  4. Kitchen—With its strong astringent flavor and typically being sold in bulks, this grade is often used to brew and mix with other foods and to experiment with on new recipes.
  5. Classic—A higher but cost-effective grade whose powder has a strong flavor and can be drank or used in cooking.

WHERE TO BUY MATCHA

Like with the different grades of Matcha green tea, there are an assortment of places you can buy Matcha. Your local grocery stores, Asian markets, discount retail stores and online retailers should all sell different grades of Matcha.

And if you’re an on-the-go person who doesn’t have time to make your own Matcha green tea or latte but still wants to reap the benefits of this green powder, head to your local tea house or coffee shop. Most nowadays brew and sell this green tea drink; there are even some places completely devoted to selling Matcha-inspired drinks and foods.

At Ujido, we have an online shop where we sell the finest green tea. We also have a history and tradition with producing and selling superior green tea, as our family has been doing it for more than 180 years.

What makes our Matcha the best? All of the tea leaves we use are a deep green color, hand picked from covered tea gardens and stone ground. We only sell culinary-grade Matcha, mainly because it has a higher antioxidant level than ceremonial grade.

We have a retail shop and cafe in Uji, Kyoto, Japan, but you can also buy a bag, case or packets of Ujido Matcha Green Tea right from our website.

CULTIVATION & PROCESSING METHOD FOR MATCHA

Although most Japanese Teas are made from tealeaves grown in tea fields with plenty of sunlight (Open-Air Tea Field), Matcha (Tencha) tealeaves are grown in the Shading Tea Field.

Why? Here is the answer: the secret of the Palatability of Matcha.

Theanine, a flavor-enhancing element contained in green tea, is produced in the roots and moves into the leaves. Amino acids in this element, which produce mellowness, transfrom into an astringency element, catechins, when exposed to sunlight.

Because of this, Matcha (Tencha) leaves has a rich mellow taste compared with the Teas grown in the Open-Air Tea Field.

Right after the tealeaves are plucked, they are steamed evenly to stop the oxidation process and to remove the grassy smell while maintaining a rich green color, then dried without rolling to make Tencha, and stored. After going through the refining process, in which Tencha tealeaves are sorted out uniform shape by cutting, separating, and sorting, and stems, veins, and buds are removed, tealeaves are finally ground into fine powder to be Matcha.

Quality Makes a Difference

Matcha quality differs depending on where it is produced, and how it is treated during the production process. Quality Green Tea production area must meet several natural conditions such as:

Average yearly temperature betwen 14-16 degrees C (57.2-60.8 degrees F)

Annual amount of rainfall is 1,300mm or higher. Stable rainfall is crucial as areas with intensive rainy periods or dry periods are bad.

Soils with good drainage, ventilation, and water retention abilities with a pH of 4-5.

Want to know the science and cultivation

behind Ujido Matcha?

Matcha is a type of the Japanese Green Tea, a finely powdered tea used in the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Matcha, Oolong Tea, and Black Tea, although there are several kinds of Tea when divided according to processing methods, they all are made from the same tealeaves. Tea (Camellia sinensis) is an evergreen tree plant, belong to Camellia genus in Theacea family.

A007

Tea Classification
There are different systems of tea classification in China and Japan. Chinese tea is basically divided into six groups: Lucha (Green Tea), Huangcha (Yellow Tea), Heicha (Black Colored Tea), Baicha (White Tea), Qingcha (Blue Tea) and Hongcha (Black Tea). On the base of method of processing Japanese system classifies tea to three groups: Non-Fermented Tea, Semi-Fermented Tea and Fermented Tea.

The critical aspect is the way of activation of oxidizing enzymes (e.g. polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase) contained in the leaves. During fermentation procedure, oxidizing enzymes become active, result in changing the color of tea from green to brown.

Green Tea, non-fermented tea, is manufactured by the following procedures. After being plucked, fresh leaves of tea immediately treated with high temperature (100 degrees C in the steam method or 300-350 degrees C in the pan-fired method) in the factory in order to inactivation of oxidizing enzymes of leaves. The color is undoubtedly green as its name, because inactivated enzymes do not break down the chlorophyll.

In the first step of processing of Semi-Fermented Tea or Fermented Tea, the leaves are withered, rolled, and incubated for 5 to 20 hours without applying high temperature. During this step, so called fermentation process, oxidizing enzymes are especially active and change tannin and other substances in raw leaves to the oxidized forms. As a result, the color of the leaves become typically brown or red and their taste and aroma enhanced.

001

In Japan, Green Tea (Non-Fermented Tea) is further classified into several varieties by cultivation method and processing method.

002

Matcha tealeaves are called Tencha before being ground into powder, and are brought up under reed blinds of straw (recently, artificial fiber cloth such as cheesecloth has come into use) to shade them from the sun for several weeks during the last stage of cultivation. Tealeaves are dried without rolling for grinding.

Cultivation and Processing Method for Matcha

Although most Japanese Teas are made from tealeaves grown in tea fields with plenty of sunlight (Open-Air Tea Field), Matcha (Tencha) tealeaves are grown in the Shading Tea Field.

Why?

A014 (1)
Open-Air Tea Field

EPSON DSC picture
Shading Tea Field

Here is the answer: the secret of the Palatability of Matcha.

003 (1)

Because of this, Matcha (Tencha) leaves has a rich mellow taste compared with the Teas grown in the Open-Air Tea Field.

Right after the tealeaves are plucked, they are steamed evenly to stop the oxidation process and to remove the grassy smell while maintaining a rich green color, then dried without rolling to make Tencha, and stored. After going through the refining process, in which Tencha tealeaves are sorted out uniform shape by cutting, separating, and sorting, and stems, veins, and buds are removed, tealeaves are finally ground into fine powder to be Matcha.

The first amazing benefit of Matcha is its extremely high antioxidant level, for which all health-conscious people seek from foods such as raw fruits, and green veggies – the highest rated by the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) method.

Matcha-Chart
*Units per gram

Secondly, unlike regular steeped green tea, Matcha tealeaves are consumed whole mixed into liquid, or added in other ingredients as they are in very fine powder.

Green Tea tea leaves are exceptionally great source of not only antioxidants, but also other nutrients such as various vitamins, and minerals, however, over half of the nutrients contained in the tealeaves including Vitamin A, E, Chlorophyll, and Dietary Fiber are water insoluble. Drinking Matcha means you have full benefits of Green Tea by taking both water soluble and insoluble nutrients.

004

Nutritional Comparison among Matcha, Sencha (Regular Green Tea) infusion, and Coffee infusion

005


Key Health Beneficial Components and Science Behind

Catechin
Tea Catechin, traditionally called Tea Tannin, is the special component of tealeaf with bitter and acerbic taste as well as astringency. The Catechins exist in Green Tea are mainly Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), Epigallocatechin (EGC), Epicatechin Gallate (ECG), Epicatechin (EC).

  • Based on the Scientific Studies, it can;
  • Nourish, stimulate, and protect your brain. *1, 2
  • Prevent the brain damage that occurs after strokes and other brain injuries. *3
  • Prevent heart diseases. *4
  • Play an important role in the prevention of cancer. *5
  • Stimulate metabolism and burn fat. *6, 7
  • Protect your skin. *8
  • Have Anti-Aging benefits: Protect DNA from oxidative stress and protect telomeres from damage. *9
  • Be useful in treating inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis. *10

Amino Acid (L-Theanine)
L-Theanine is a unique amino acid found almost solely in tea plants and the main component responsible for the exotic taste of green tea.

  • Based on the Scientific Studies, it can;
  • Improve recall, learning, and positive mood. *11, 12
  • Make you more resilient to stress. *13
  • Cause an increase in alpha activity and relax you. *14, 15
  • Improve cognition and memory, even in people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). *16
  • Reduce anxiety symptoms of schizophrenia when taken along with antipsychotic medication. *17
  • Improve sleep quality for those with ADHD. *18
  • Help smokers quit smoking. *19

Chlorophyll
Chlorophyll is a green pigment that is instrumental in photosynthesis.

Based on the Scientific Studies, it can;

  • Help suppress hunger and stabilize blood sugar level. *20
  • Promote cleansing (Remove ingested aflatoxin). *21
  • Stimulate liver detoxifying enzymes. *22

References:

1. Neurological mechanisms of green tea polyphenols in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. J Nutr Biochem. 2004 Sep;15(9):506-16.

2. Simultaneous manipulation of multiple brain targets by green tea catechins: a potential neuroprotective strategy for Alzheimer and Parkinson diseases. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008 Winter;14(4):352-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-5949.2008.00060.x.

3. Effects of (-)-epigallocatechin-3-O-gallate (green tea tannin) on the life span of stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol Suppl. 1995 Dec;22(1):S302-3.

4. Green tea catechins and cardiovascular health: an update. Curr Med Chem. 2008;15(18):1840-50.

5. EGCG, GREEN TEA POLYPHENOLS AND THEIR SYNTHETIC ANALOGS AND PRODRUGS FOR HUMAN CANCER PREVENTION AND TREATMENT Adv Clin Chem. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 Mar 15. Published in final edited form as: Adv Clin Chem. 2011; 53: 155–177.

6. Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Dec;70(6):1040-5.

7. Green tea as inhibitor of the intestinal absorption of lipids: potential mechanism for its lipid-lowering effect. J Nutr Biochem. 2007 Mar;18(3):179-83.

8. Oral green tea catechin metabolites are incorporated into human skin and protect against UV radiationinduced cutaneous inflammation in association with reduced production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoid 12- hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid. Br J Nutr. 2013 Sep 14;110(5):891-900. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512006071. Epub 2013 Jan 28.

9. Epigallocatechin gallate, the major component of polyphenols in green tea, inhibits telomere attrition mediated cardiomyocyte apoptosis in cardiac hypertrophy. Int J Cardiol. 2013 Jan 20;162(3):199-209. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2011.07.083. Epub 2011 Oct 15.

10. Green Tea Protects Rats against Autoimmune Arthritis by Modulating Disease-Related Immune Events J Nutr. 2008 Nov; 138(11): 2111–2116. doi: 10.3945/jn.108.089912

11. Effects of theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, on neurotransmitter release and its relationship with glutamic acid neurotransmission. Nutr Neurosci. 2005 Aug;8(4):219-26.

12. The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent. J Herb Pharmacother. 2006;6(2):21-30.

13. L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses Biological Psychology Volume 74, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 39–45

14. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:167-8.

15. L-theanine—a unique amino acid of green tea and its relaxation effect in humans Trends in Food Science & Technology Volume 10, Issues 6–7, June 1999, Pages 199–204

16. A combination of green tea extract and l-theanine improves memory and attention in subjects with mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. J Med Food. 2011 Apr;14(4):334-43. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2009.1374. Epub 2011 Feb 8.

17. L-theanine relieves positive, activation, and anxiety symptoms in patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder: an 8-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 2-center study. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 Jan;72(1):34-42. doi: 10.4088/JCP.09m05324gre. Epub 2010 Nov 30.

18. The effects of L-theanine (Suntheanine®) on objective sleep quality in boys with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Altern Med Rev. 2011 Dec;16(4):348-54.

19. L-theanine inhibits nicotine-induced dependence via regulation of the nicotine acetylcholine receptordopamine reward pathway. Sci China Life Sci. 2012 Dec;55(12):1064-74. doi: 10.1007/s11427-012-4401-0. Epub 2012 Dec 12.

20. Supplementation by thylakoids to a high carbohydrate meal decreases feelings of hunger, elevates CCK levels and prevents postprandial hypoglycaemia in overweight women. Appetite. 2013 Sep;68:118-23. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.04.022. Epub 2013 Apr 28.

21. Effects of chlorophyll and chlorophyllin on low-dose aflatoxin B(1) pharmacokinetics in human volunteers. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2009 Dec;2(12):1015-22. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-09-0099. Epub 2009 Dec 1.

22. Effect of dietary constituents with chemopreventive potential on adduct formation of a low dose of the heterocyclic amines PhIP and IQ and phase II hepatic enzymes. Nutr Cancer. 2003;46(2):212-21.

Introduction of Zen and Matcha in Japan
Over 800 years ago a young Buddhist priest by the name Myoan Eisai (1141-1215) left his native Japan on a spiritual journey for greater awareness and knowledge. Eisai returned to Japan with a new found philosophy called “Chan”.

Eisai also brought seeds of the tea plant from China, and presented the Sung style of manufacturing and drinking of ground tea, called “Matcha”.

Using Chan philosophy Myoan Eisai created the Rinzai School of Zen Buddhism in Japan and became “Zen Master Eisai”.
The Buddhist monks at the Zen Monasteries soon adopted the drinking of Matcha for its valuable healing properties and focused “Chi” Energy in the quest for Zen meditation and enlightenment.

Emergence of Uji Tea
Master Eisai instructed his highly-talented monk Myoe Shonin to plant the special tea seeds on the grounds of his temple. The name of his temple was Kozanji and lay northwest of Kyoto in the region Toganoo.

Myoe Shonin began with the cultivation of tea in Toganoo, but looked after an area with a more suitable climate. Finally, he found a most sacred place with the perfect climate and soil to grow superior Matcha – Uji. Very soon the fame of the Uji Tea made widespread notice and from that time Uji has been well-known as the Best Tea-Growing Region of the country.

Shading Tea Field Technique born in Uji
In 1450, Shogun (General) Ashikaga Yoshimitsu built a Tea Farm called “Uji Shichimeien (the seven excellent tea gardens in Uji)” later, who also built ​​the famous Zen Temple “Kinkakuji (Golden Temple)”, and it led to the world-famous Uji Tea. In the Age of Provincial Wars, each Shogun (General) enjoyed drinking teas and requested tea masters in Uji to prepare teas, and Uji tea increasingly became valued.

Around this time the technique of covering young tea buds (Shading Tea Field) was begun in Uji, and the quality of the tea was steadily improved through careful processing to date.

Uji Matcha Culture developed with constant supports by the Rulers
In the Momoyama period (1568-1615), probably determined by the aesthetic sense of Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591), the style of the tea making was defined with Cha-no-Yu or Chado “Tea Way”. In the West it is known as the so-called “Tea Ceremony”.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598) supported the tea growers of Uji which was continued by the Shoguns (Generals) of the Edo period (1603-1868). Every year a Tea Parade “Chatsubo-Dochu” was performed. Uji Tea was therefore continually supported and promoted by the ruler of the land within the meaning of Tea-Way “Cha-no-Yu”.

Other Japanese Green Tea productions also born in Uji
In 1738, Nagatani Soen, a tea grower from Uji had the idea to roll the tealeaves to crush the cell walls and thereby facilitating a faster infusion, and developed Sencha, This treatment of the leaves, known as the “Uji method of growth and Sencha manufacturing” has been continued and further developed to this very day.

Towards the end of the Edo period, in 1834, the production of Gyokuro began in Uji.
Uji Tea is what people think of when asked what tea they see as the highest grade Japanese tea

The history of Uji, is the history of Japanese Tea.

Matcha quality differs depending on where it is produced, and how it is treated during production process.

Quality Green Tea production area must meet several natural conditions such as;

  • Average yearly temperature is 14-16 degrees C (57.2-60.8 degrees F).
  • More than 80 running days with minimum temperature of 15 degrees C (59 degrees F).
  • More than 210 days with average temperature of 5 degrees C (41 degrees F) or above.
  • Annual amount of rainfall is 1,300mm or higher, but stable rainfall, not having intensive rainy period or dry period.
  • Less affected by Tyhoon, Hail, or Frost.
  • Soils with good drainage, ventilation, and water retention abilities, and pH 4-5.

Uji (Kyoto, Japan) has Uji River around where the ground is fertile, foggy mist during night time, which helps to prevent frost, and humid weather in summer. Tea fields in Uji are on the rolling hills, and well-ventilated with good water drainage ability.

Matcha tea leaves are grown in, so called, the Shading Tea Field. Around 4 weeks before plucking tealeaves, the tea fields are covered from the top with the traditional straw screens or recently artificial fiber cloth to slowly and gradually decrease the amount of sunlight, and hence photosynthesis.

EPSON DSC picture

By doing this, tealeaves begin to crank out increasing amounts of both Chlorophyll and Amino Acids (Theanine) that makes Matcha color nice and bright green, and gives its intense “Umami” taste. Tealeaves are handpicked with special care, and processed with traditional method with a long period of history right after they are picked.

The highest quality Matcha tealeaves are only the smallest, youngest, and greenest parts of the plant – the two leaves at the tip of each new shoot, and its taste is not solely sweet, but a distinctive complex taste that is full-bodied, rich, and mature, never chalky, bitter, or bland. This top quality Matcha from the first harvesting days (First Flush) in Japan is used in the Traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony, in which people enjoy and appreciate its delicate full flavor without masking with any additions.

Depending on the methods of hand-plucking tealeaves, plucking amounts per day (8 hours)
per person varies considerably:

  • Two leaves at the tip (Highest Quality): 2.5kg (0.5kg after Crude Tea processing)
  • Three leaves at the tip (High Quality): 20kg (4kg after Crude Tea processing)
  • Four or Five leaves at the tip (Regular Quality): 40kg (8kg after Crude tea processing)

Tealeaves get harvested several times throughout the year in Japan, but the First Flush of the year is considered the most delicious and has the most nutrients. Tea-plucking in Japan begins with the spring warmth. During the winter, tea plants store nutrients, and the tender new leaves which sprout in the spring contain concentrated nutrients.

In Uji, only First and Second Flush are harvested, which gives tea trees more time to store the nutrients compared with other tea production areas.

Second Flush tealeaves treated with special care are also bright green color and have natural sweet taste, but compared with First Flush, the color is less vibrant, and have slightly refreshing bitter taste. Usually Matcha from these tealeaves is used for culinary purposes mixing with other ingredients for baking, adding it in smoothies, lattes, and etc., so called “Culinary Grade Matcha”. It is less expensive than “Ceremony Grade Matcha” and easier to have full of Matcha’s health benefits on daily basis.

Our Ujido Matcha is a blend with First and Second Flush so can be tasted with hot water to enjoy its original taste.

If you understand “What decides Matcha quality”, it will be easy for you to know that Low Quality Matcha is made from the tealeaves that are not properly shaded, may be older and/or harvested from lower on the stalk of the plant plucked by cutting machine, or be produced in the region with unfavorable weather and/or soil condition for tea production.

Today there are many Matcha products out in the market for you to choose from, and here we have some points to help you understand how our Ujido Matcha differes from others in quality.

Color
Color is a good indicator in assessing Matcha quality. As High Quality Matcha is properly shade-grown and has plenty of Chlorophyll, its color is really nice vibrant green in powder, and dark deep green in water. The greener its color, the higher the quality is. Low Quality Matcha, by comparison, is dull green, or even yellowish.

MAtcha
Ujido Matcha (Left) and Low Quality Matcha (Right)

Matcha-Tea
Ujido Matcha (Left) and Low Quality Matcha (Right)

As conducted a research on Culinary Purpose (Grade) Matcha products in the market, we found many Low Quality Matcha products like as above, however, there were also a few High Quality Matcha products as Culinary Grade.

Even for comparing two High Quality Matcha products, if you look them carefully, you will notice a slight color difference to tell which is higher in quality as in the above pictures.

Taste

The Higher Quality Matcha, the sweeter and the less bitter it tastes. The Highest Grade (First Flush) Matcha never tastes bitter, and has full-bodied, rich, and mature sweet taste coming from the Amino Acid (L-Theanine) produced in the Shading Tea Field with careful treatment.

Our Ujido Matcha has a perfect combination of sweet and slightly bitter taste. When you get it your mouth around, refreshing slightly bitter taste comes first, and then when it goes through your throat, “Umami” and sweetness come after and remain. Low Quality Matcha, by comparison, has a strongly unpleasant bitter and astringent flavor that never tastes sweet by lacking L-Theanine.

Many people wonder if it’s organic or not. There are lots of cheap organic Matcha products from China, and expensive ones from Japan in the online market. The color, flavor and price are much better for non-organic, and the residual pesticide regulation is very strict in Japan, so the products made in Japan are quite safe. We’ve never had an issue for this with more than 180 years business in Japan.

Statistically, the organic Matcha production is only a small percentage out of whole Matcha production in Japan. This means the quantity is very limited, so some of the products in the online market are doubtful if they are truly organic or not. For the ones from China, even if they are organic, they aren’t really “Matcha”.

Matcha contains Caffeine, but also the Amino Acid, L-Theanine, which can work synergistically with caffeine to improve brain function.*1 Because of the L-theanine, Matcha can give you a much milder and different kind of “buzz” than coffee.*2

Many people report having more stable energy and being much more productive when they drink Matcha, compared to coffee.

References:

1. L-Theanine and Caffeine in Combination Affect Human Cognition as Evidenced byOscillatory alpha-Band Activity and Attention Task Performance J. Nutr. August 2008 vol. 138 no. 8 1572S-1577S

2. The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol. 2008 Feb;77(2):113-22. Epub 2007 Sep 26.

Matcha is sensitive to heat, humidity, light, and odor from other substances. When exposed to them, it loses its vibrant color and sweet taste so quickly. It is recommended to keep it refrigerated. Once the bag is opened, it should be consume within a short period because it begins to degrade. After opening the bag, please seal it firmly and keep it in a refrigerator.

When you take the bag out of the fridge, it is recommend to let it warm up to room temperature before opening it in order to avoid condensation.


Share this page