All About Matcha
Matcha is wonderful. It has flavour, nutrition, mood effects, and ritual. This is Lalani & Co’s one page guide to becoming a matcha drinker.
What is Matcha?
All tea, including matcha, comes from the tea plant. It’s called Camellia Sinensis. Matcha is a style of green tea which is made in Japan. The plants are grown under the shade for 3 weeks before harvest. This adjusts the nutrient balance in the leaf, causing more of the amino acid L-theanine.
Here you can see the tea plants being covered from the sunlight by a direct shading method. The tea in the sun will become sencha. The tea under the shade will be made into matcha. Even after just a few days, you can see the colour change in the leaves.
When the tea leaves are picked, they’re made into a leaf green tea which is not rolled or twisted. Hence, the leaves have a flat shape. The leaf veins are removed and this tea is called ‘tencha’.
The tencha is kept at a cool temperature until needed. It’s then milled into matcha. This process can be done by metal or stone. Metal is faster and more efficient. Stone is more expensive, slower, and gives a better flavour.
Important things to look for
Matcha grading is somewhat unclear and there’s a lot of matcha sold as ‘cooking’, ‘drinking’ and ‘ceremonial’ but there is not official certifying organisation to verify the standards. Taste has to be your guide. To help you on your way, here are some things to look for when you buy matcha:
If you’re looking for the best matcha, make sure it’s a pure spring season matcha. In Japan, tea with the best flavour quality grows in the spring.
Stone milling is a more careful and slower process which gives the finished matcha a better flavour and fuller texture.
Organic is important. In Japan, the ordinary pesticide regulations are different to Europe. The organic certification is equal to the EU.
How to make matcha properly
The best way to drink matcha is the authentic Japanese way, whisking a small amount of matcha with water using a bamboo whisk. Watch the video below to learn how it’s done.
This style of making matcha is called ‘usucha’ in Japan. There is another method called ‘koicha’ which uses twice the matcha and half the water. It’s for the very serious matcha drinkers, and we’ll do a video on it soon.
As an ingredient, you can also use matcha to make a variety of culinary creations, including smoothies, ice cream, cakes and even matcha salt. There are a couple of recipes on our site:
Lalani & Co Matcha is stocked at many of the country’s independent coffee shops and retailers, including the independent health food chains Revital and Bodywise.
A top grade organic matcha, made from very high quality pure spring season tea. The leaves are milled by stone which we find gives a better texture and flavour than the newer mechanical mills. Click to view.
Making a smooth, frothy matcha is done with a bamboo matcha whisk. Ours are made from black bamboo with gently curving prongs.
Most of the widely available whisks are mass produced by machine. These beautiful whisks are made by hand in the workshop of Sabun Kubo. They’re made without any anti fungals or chemicals. He chooses the bamboo himself, which is grown with natural agriculture, and dried for 2-5 years before being made into whisks. Click to view.
Our Matcha Grade III is a very good organic cooking matcha. It makes excellent smoothies, cookies, ice creams, bliss balls, healthy bars etc and we have many wholesale customers who use it in their products.
As we’ve mentionned, matcha grading is a minefield. Every company’s opinion of a drinking and cooking grade varies. We’ve seen this quality of matcha sold as a drinking grade at a premium price. At £12 for 100g, it’s possibly the best value matcha in the UK. Click to view.
At Lalani & Co, we adore craft pottery. We have a selection of matcha bowls, handmade made by ceramic artists in here the UK. The experience of drinking matcha from a matcha bowl is far superior to a cup.