You have likely heard how great green tea is for you, and its amazing health benefits for weight loss, reduced stress levels, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure etc. But studies show you’d have to drink numerous cups of green tea every day to get those benefits. Up to 8-10 cups per day, they say, and who has time for that?
But because matcha tea is the entire tea leaf in condensed powder form just 1 cup of matcha = 10 cups of regular green tea with higher amounts of green tea’s naturally beneficial and unique nutrients like L-Theanine and the EGCG antioxidant. People don’t drink matcha for its taste, they drink it for how it makes them feel, the results they experience and its perceived health benefits.
Think of good quality matcha as a superfood or supplement you’d buy at a health food store. The Wellness department at such stores is, in fact, where matcha first got its foothold in North America. In 2006, only high-quality Japanese matcha was available in the U.S. and Canada. Matcha proponents staged in-store demos. Customers lined up to sample this remarkable “new” tea regardless of the cost. Sales grew, and grew and continued to grow coast-to-coast.
How to Differentiate Good from Bad Matcha?
Not all matcha, however, is created equal and, as its popularity grew, it eventually attracted companies that sold cheap, poor-quality matcha making it not worth the cost. By 2017, customers had come to believe that matcha green tea was good for you but tasted bad and was rather pricey.
So why is it that some matcha tea is more expensive than others? It all comes down to how it’s grown, harvested and processed.
The Six Ancient Matcha-Making Traditions
Matcha’s centuries-old production methods actually boost its beneficial nutrients and keep them intact all the way to your frothy cup! And, yes, ancient practices like hand picking and stone grinding do add to the cost. Keep in mind that only a small handful of matcha producers, like ours, still follow these ancient traditions today.
1. Shade covering (shown above left) – tea leaves are shade covered 2-4 weeks before the first harvest in early spring. Shading blocks the sunlight, forcing chlorophyll and L-theanine to the top outermost leaves. L-theanine creates a smoother taste. It’s also responsible for the calm, less stressed, more focused feelings matcha is famous for, while Chlorophyll is recognized for its detoxifying abilities.
2. Carefully selecting each leaf by hand (above right) – only those outermost, highly nutrient dense, young tea leaves are selected for premium quality matcha.
3. Lightly steaming (above left) – prevents the tea leaf’s antioxidants from being oxidized. These powerful antioxidants, such as EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), are the primary reason green tea’s health benefits have been so widely researched and recognized.
4. Air drying (above right) – continues the gentle process that ensures nutrients remain intact and are not over-processed.
5. De-stemming (above left)
6. Slow gentle stone grinding (above right)
One hundred years ago both methods were done by hand. Today the process is mechanized but it still takes one full hour of slow stone-grinding to produce a 1 ounce tin of My Matcha Life® Matcha powder.
By comparison – The image below the heat pulverizer makes a murky green powder containing few nutrients, compared to the traditional granite stones that produce My Matcha Life’s vibrant green powder jam-packed with nutrients!
Discover matcha’s amazing ancient history and why Japanese Monks kept it a closely guarded secret for so long.