We have already told you about the main characteristics of matcha, a delicious, delicate tea presented as an intense green powder. It can be instantly recognized thanks to its texture and unique preparation method. This tea is not infused, but rather completely dissolved in hot water. We would like to teach you even more about this fascinating tea with six curious facts!
1/ Born in China
Matcha was first created in China during the Tang Dynasty (7th – 10th centuries), who used steam to compress tea leaves and make powder to be easily stored and transported in bricks. The Song Dynasty (10th – 13th centuries) then popularized this form of preparation by whisking the powdered tea into bowls of hot water.
2/ Adopted by the Japanese
It was Eisai, a Japanese monk, who first brought matcha seeds to his country in 1191 after studying Zen Buddhism in China. The tea was then grown in tiny quantities in Kyoto in the first Zen temple founded by Eisai, and was considered to be the finest tea in Japan. The Zen monks created a ritual for preparing and drinking matcha which went on to become the renowned Japanese tea ceremony we know today. They also developed a new method for growing and covering the tea in order to increase its positive effects. This is what first lent it such an inimitable emerald color. Stored in the dark, the leaves are forced to produce more chlorophyll to achieve photosynthesis.
3/ A healthy composition
Matcha was the favorite tea of Buddhist monks, samurais, and emperors. The first of the three were convinced the tea helped them focus while remaining alert during long meditation sessions. The second drank matcha to give them more energy and speed before battle. And all three groups used it to stave off tiredness and ensure a certain longevity. As the whole tea leaves are consumed, the full benefits of the nutrients can be absorbed, and matcha contains lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In order to conserve as many virtues as possible, it should be prepared with simmering mineral water as boiling water will burn the antioxidants.
4/ A rare tea
This tea really offers its full potential thanks to the way it is produced. It is first carefully selected (only the finest buds are chosen) before being hand-picked and delicately ground up using granite blocks after being dried. A more intense green color means a higher quality and less bitterness.
5/ The tea ceremony
Matcha is the only tea used for the renowned Japanese ceremonies. These events are based on four main principles: harmony (wa), respect (kei), purity (sei), and tranquility (jaku). They last for four hours, during which time the master repeats highly coded movements in focused silence while guests enjoy both the tea and the joy of living in the moment. We can draw inspiration from this ritual at home by using a bamboo spatula (chasaku), a whisk (chasen), and a beautifully decorated bowl for serving.
6/ A culinary ingredient
Whether pastries, savory dishes, sauces, or creams, matcha is ideal for adding a touch of sophistication and originality to many sweet and savory culinary preparations. Its creamy, vegetal taste and its subtle bitterness also lend both flavor and color to a multitude of desserts from madeleines and cakes to sorbets and whipped cream!
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