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The History of Matcha

Posted by Bean & Bean on
The History of Matcha

In recent years, matcha has become more popular than ever. Cafes big and small are now serving matcha across the US and UK and unsurprisingly, the tea has also made its way in a variety of desserts. 

Bright green in color with a slightly bitter and earthy taste, matcha tea is a delicious drink usually served hot. While it's a staple in Japan and a significant part of Chinese culture, matcha tea's unique taste and versatility have made their way worldwide and in the international tea market. 

 This makes one wonder: how exactly was it discovered? Let's talk about the history of matcha tea. 

The history of matcha

The cultivation of green tea started between the 7-10th century in the Tang dynasty, China. Here, tea was harvested and shaped into bricks for easy storage and efficient transportation over long distances. The tea was initially prepared by roasting and pulverizing to brew in hot water with a little salt. This process then evolved into making powdered tea for steam and dried tea leaves, and thus the method of whipping tea powder in hot water became popular in the 12th century in the Song dynasty. To this day, this method is used to prepare traditional matcha tea. 

Zen Buddhists started consuming powdered tea as a ritual, and they also cultivated another tea plant, "Sencha," for therapeutic benefits. This tea later came to be known as "matcha." 

Judging by its history, it’s clear that matcha tea was consumed to improve your sense of clarity and well-being and become more centered and focused. And thus, matcha tea became renowned as the drink for high temple priests. 

Eventually, due to its association with Buddhism, powdered tea made its way to Japan in 1191. 

Significance in Japanese culture

Slowly but surely, tea farm owners in Japan perfected the process to develop and harvest the most powerful and therapeutically advantageous matcha. Since the tea was produced in small batches, it became exclusive and was only available to the SHOGUN and nobility. 

Things changed, however, in 1738, as Sohen Nagatani invented the "Uji" green tea processing method, a more efficient way to make matcha. And thus, the tea became available to the general public. As Sohen wanted the common public to have access to matcha, he shared his skills with local farmers, and the Kyoto region of Japan began producing a ton of matcha. 

During the 1300s and 1500s, the Japanese tea culture blossomed and became what it is today. Drinking matcha was viewed as a spiritual journey with the pursuit of simplicity over extravagance. One could say that while matcha tea has its roots in China, it was truly perfected for the masses in Japan. 

How matcha became popular

Matcha has steadily become popular and found its place with health-conscious consumers. Loaded with antioxidants, it can make most recipes healthier and tastier. It has also become a norm in popular media with young adults, influencers, and the yoga community. From Scandinavia to France, one can indulge themselves with a delicious cup of matcha tea or a smoothie. 

Matcha grades 

There are a lot of qualities and traits to consider when one is looking for matcha tea, for example, color, texture, brand, grinding process, etc. 

Here are some types and grades of matcha tea available on the market: 

Culinary grade: 

  • Highest quality tea used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies 
  • Made with youngest match tea leaves with only the richest and nutritious parts of the plant
  • Delicate and airy, the flavor is sweet and mild compared to other grades
  • Traditionally served with only hot water

Ceremonial grade: 

  • More robust and bitter
  • Ideal for lattes, smoothies, and baked goods 
  • It tastes fresh and has bright green color 

Premium grade:

  • Ideal for mixing in other drinks works as a nutritious shot of energy
  • Fine in texture and hence mixes in liquids easily

Cafe grade:

  • Stronger and potent flavors
  • IDeal with blended drinks and baked goods 
  • Has the signature match green color

Classic grade:

  • Fine texture with a bright color 
  • Cheaper than premium or cafe grade
  • Slightly bitter but quite creamy

Ingredient grade:

  • Thicker consistency makes it perfect for dairy based drinks 
  • Usually used in baked goods

Kitchen grade:

  • Similar to ingredient grade and has a thicker consistency 
  • Used in large scale food productions for its flavors 
  • Darker in color

Matcha as a coffee alternative

Loaded with nutrition and delicious with almost anything, matcha is a perfect alternative for those who don't prefer coffee or are looking for a caffeinated drink with a unique taste. 

Whether you’re looking to mix up your morning routine or try baking some matcha-based desserts, our Pepperpot Organic Japanese matcha will help you accomplish that. Our matcha is USDA Organic Certified, highly caffeinated, and grown with care in Kagoshima, Japan. 

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