Matcha is a fine powdered green tea grown primarily in Japan. Traditionally, it has been commonly used in Sadou, the tea ceremony of Japan.
The young tea leaves are shaded from direct sunlight before harvest, a technique (Ooishita) developed in Uji, Kyoto around 400 years ago, to give rich taste of ‘umami’ with little bitterness.
Trivia: ‘Umami’ taste of Japanese green tea predominantly comes from an amino acid - theanine - which is naturally present in all tea leaves. Under no shading (or Ooishita) conditions, theanine is converted to catechin (another group of nutrients in tea). Shading tea leaves keep their amino acid content of Japanese green tea undepleted, and with enhanced sensory taste.
The fresh tea leaves are steamed in the same way as other Japanese green teas, then turned into tencha (non-ground form of matcha) by drying without rolling, and finally ground in a stone mill.
Its elegant aroma and concentrated sweetness make matcha a pleasure to drink, either on its own or with added milk in latte form. As the powder is dissolved in hot water, all of the tea's nutrients can be consumed in the drink.