Background on Japanese Matcha Power
Matcha is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed Japanese green tea leaves, originally consumed in East Asia but now available around the world. The green tea plants used for matcha are shade-grown for three to four weeks before harvest; the stems and veins are removed during processing. During shaded growth, the plant Camellia Sinensis increases its production of theanine and caffeine. The matcha powder is consumed differently from tea leaves or tea bags, as it is suspended in a liquid, traditionally by being whisked into hot water, rather than "steeped".
The traditional Japanese tea ceremony centers on the preparation, serving and drinking of matcha as hot tea, and embodies a meditative spirituality. More recently, matcha is also used to flavor and dye foods, such as mochi and soba soba noodles, green tea ice cream, matcha lattes and a variety of Japanese wagashi confectionery. Matcha used in ceremonies is referred to as ceremonial grade, meaning that the powder is of a high enough quality (e.g., extremely fine grains) to be used in the tea ceremony. Lower-quality matcha is referred to as culinary-grade, but no standard industry definition or requirements exist for matcha.
Blends of matcha are given poetic names known as chamei ("tea names") either by the producing plantation, shop, or creator of the blend, or by the grand master of a particular tea tradition. When a blend is named by the grand master of a tea ceremony lineage, it becomes known as the master's konomi.
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