Matcha tea powder
what is matcha?
© 2017 · Cook Appétit.
But what is matcha exactly, how is it different to traditional green tea and how is matcha produced?
The very best quality matcha is harvested by hand once per year (usually in May). Roughly six weeks prior to harvest in the Spring, the tea plants are covered with dark vinyl sheets to gradually reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the plants. This process enriches the chlorophyll content of the tea leaves and gives matcha its unique and lively green colour. The highest grade matcha is powder from leaves grown in near full darkness.
After harvesting, the leaves are steamed to preserve their colour and nutrients and then they are air dried and sorted for grade. The young leaves from the top of the plant that are plucked early in the harvest have a more pleasant sweet taste (umami) and are of superior grade to the more mature leaves that taste more astringent.
The final step in the process if for the dried leaves to be ground into a powder. Tea grade matcha is ground using stone mills, whereas industrial grade matcha is ground by machinery. Stone mills change the molecular structure and therefore impact the taste and mouth feel of matcha tea.
The highest grade (ceremonial) is more suitable for making matcha tea and is intended to be enjoyed plain without any additions that will mask its true taste. Lower culinary grades are more suitable for use in the kitchen like baking or smoothies. All these different matcha grades affect the flavour profile but not the nutritional value of matcha. Do you want to guess what else they affect? The price point of course.
Prices vary from brand to brand, but generally speaking the ceremonial grade matcha will typically range from £20 to £26 per 30g tin, with culinary grade matcha being significantly cheaper (you can even find 100g for £5). The taste will be substantially different of course, but that will only affect your tastebuds if you try to consume plain matcha tea. Culinary grade is an excellent starting point to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen and is intended to be mixed with other ingredients and reformed into cakes, soups, smoothies even stews.
© 2017 · Cook Appétit.