With its fine powder, punchy green color, and particular taste, matcha is a tea in a league of its own, and is now appealing to more and more people in France and across the world.
So, what is it?
Matcha is a green tea from Japan. So far, so simple. But there is one, astonishing difference – it is not enjoyed in the form of leaves, like other teas, but instead as an incredibly light, finely-ground powder. To obtain these delicate grains, the tea leaves are first rolled into tubes and dried. They are then gently ground between two millstones often made of granite.
Where does the incredible color come from?
Excellent question! The tea bushes that produce matcha are covered several weeks before the harvest. During this time, the light-starved leaves have to produce greater quantities of chlorophyll to complete their photosynthesis. And this is what gives them such a unique, bright green color!
How do you drink it?
This is the other singular characteristic of matcha. Because it is enjoyed in powder form, the tea is prepared by dissolving in hot water instead of infusing. Matcha is the only tea whose leaves are literally absorbed by the water. We drink the whole lot! As a result, none of its properties are lost, which is lucky because matcha is also rich in vitamins and minerals as well as being delicious! Its texture also offers a far different mouth-feel to other teas.
So, can you eat it as well?
Matcha is the star of the Japanese dessert scene, and is now increasingly used in recipes all over the world – especially by international pâtissiers. And it isn’t hard to see why! The tea’s vegetal taste and subtle bitterness are the perfect partners for sweeter flavors, and add a pinch of sophistication and originality to every dessert. What’s more, the tea lends its iconic, recognizable green color to cakes, pastries, and other delectable gateaux!
A ceremonial tea
Matcha is also a powerful traditional symbol, as it is used for the tea ceremony in Japan. Those looking to experience this ritual and make an amazing matcha in keeping with the ceremonial rites need only follow a few simple rules. Place a little bit of the green powder into a beautifully decorated tea bowl using a bamboo spoon known as a chashaku (between two and four scoops), before pouring in pure water heated to 80°C/176°F. Stir vigorously by making “W” shapes with a traditional bamboo whisk called a chasen. When a layer of foam appears, the mixture has been completely blended and is ready to drink, either on its own or with a touch of sugar!