Matcha is a green tea, traditionally from Japan that is converted to a finely ground powder. The Japan Tea Central Public Interest Incorporated Association defines Matcha as follows: “Leaves are grown in the shade and dried without being rolled and ground into powder by an “Usu”, a stone mill or a ball mill”.
Thus, the uniqueness of Matcha is driven by these key production aspects:
- The tea bushes are protected from direct sunlight by shading the tea plants for a period of time prior to harvesting, which increases both chlorophyll and amino acid levels in the leaves, thus creating an intense green color and unique, smooth flavor.
- The finely plucked leaves are steamed and not rolled.
- Stems & veins from the tea leaves are removed after steaming.
- The resultant tea leaves are ground into a fine powder for liquid consumption or culinary use.
Recognizing that transfer of production techniques globally now allow for non-traditional origins to produce a wide variety of teas, we are proposing a Matcha definition that producers may use to define Matcha produced outside of Japan.
In order for a tea to be called Matcha, the following must apply:
- The tea bushes must be shaded, in some fashion, for at least one week prior to harvesting.
- The harvested leaves must be steamed as soon as possible post harvesting. Pan Firing will not be considered a viable heating step.
- Stems and veins should be removed.
- Resulting finished product must be ground into a fine powder, similar in size to traditional Japanese Matcha.
- No tea grown outside of Japan may be called Ceremonial-Grade Matcha.
- The declared origin of the tea is the country in which the leaf was grown and produced.