How is Matcha Made?
Matcha’s unique production and processing are the key to creating the best quality matcha tea. If you’ve ever wondered how matcha is produced, the following steps are time-tested traditions practised today by a rare handful of producers of truly authentic high-quality matcha like My Matcha Life®.
From Shading to Harvest
Matcha tea fields are typically covered with bamboo and rice-mat shades 2 – 4 weeks prior to harvest. Shading forces the tea plant to boost its natural production of chlorophyll and the uber-healthy amino acid L-theanine which gives the tea a smoother, more satisfying matcha taste.
While hand picking inevitably increases the cost of production, it guarantees that only the absolute best tea leaves are selected for processing. Nothing beats the trained eyes and soft touch of this ancient tradition. It is, in fact, the only way to ensure the highest quality matcha tea is produced. Men and women, young and old alike, participate in the hand picking process. In some regions students are given the first week in May off school in order to help with the spring harvest.
From Tea Leaf to Aracha
Within 24 hours of being harvested the tea leaves are lightly steamed with filtered water (removing chlorine, iron, etc.) to prevent fermentation. Steaming keeps them bright green and full of flavor and nutrients. This is usually done at an “Aracha” processing facility near the farmers’ fields. At this point they taste a little like spinach.
The steamed tea leaves are pre-dried with air dryers then fully dried for another 20 minutes. At the end of the Aracha processing the leaves look like this * see photo. From here they are bagged and placed in cold storage to preserve richness and flavor before being delivered to the “Tencha” facility for final processing.
From Aracha to Matcha
De-stemming / De-veining
Before the Aracha tea leaves are stone ground to an ultra-fine matcha powder they are de-veined and de-stemmed to ensure only the sweet centers of each leaf remain. These leaves are now called Tencha. A hundred years ago this painstaking process was performed by hand. Today, producers employ air/wind chambers and agitators designed especially for tea leaves.
Finally, these hand-picked, shade-grown lightly steamed, de-stemmed leaves are slowly ground between two large stones of pure granite. It takes about an hour of grinding to produce 1 ounce (30 grams) of our Tea Lover’s Organic Ceremonial Matcha.
The powder is ground to an ultra-fine 5 – 9 microns. Lesser grades have larger particles, some 15 microns or more. Overall, this labour-intensive process is the difference between high grade Japanese matcha tea and lower grades from other countries.
We believe it’s important our customers know how matcha is produced, especially our matcha. Being well informed simply helps us make healthier choices for both ourselves and our families.