Matcha is a very popular tea from Japan, used during the Japanese Tea Ceremony, but also for casual drinking. This tea is a vivid green powder made from ground tea leaves of tencha tea. Tencha is a shaded tea – meaning it was covered from the sun during a period of time in its growth, resulting in a deeper shade of green and a greater production of amino acids that gives the tea a sweeter flavor. The leaves are laid out flat to dry and then ground, creating a green powder known as matcha. However if the shaded leaves are rolled after harvest they are known as gyokuro tea.
Matcha is made of young leaves – primarly delicate buds, but it comes in different grades and some matchas can be very expensive, while others quite affordable. Generally matcha is classified into two main categories – usucha and koicha.
Usucha is also known as ‘thin’ tea, because it is more bitter and during the tea ceremony more water is used to prepare it. This does not mean that it’s milder, in fact, Usucha usually has a stronger flavor then Koicha. This matcha is made of tea leaves from plants that are 30 years old of less and it’s a more common variety.
Koicha is also known as ‘thick’ tea, because it’s flavor is much sweeter then usucha’s and less water is used for brewing. You also use more powder to make a bowl of this matcha. The leaves used for koicha come from tea trees that are 30 years or older. Koicha is the finer variety, therefore also more expensive.