Thursday, July 3, 2014

JAPANESE MATCHA (GREEN TEA)


Matcha: Fine Powdered Green Tea
Photo by satorinihon / CC BY


Matcha before adding water
Photo by Matcha Tea / CC BY


Woman demonstrating Japanese Tea Ceremony
Photo by ameotoko / CC BY


Matcha and Wagashi, Japanese confectionery
Photo by Miketsukunibito / CC BY


Different types of Wagashi
Photo by mookiepix / CC BY


Matcha Blueberry Cake
Photo by vialbost / CC BY


Tea Ware: lower is Chashaku (spoon), right is chawan (bowl) and left is chasen (whisk)
Photo by Kaminix / CC BY


Whisking matcha tea with bamboo whisk
Photo by steenbergs / CC BY




OTHER NAMES: 抹茶 (in Japanese), maccha, Japanese green tea

Matcha is a finely milled green tea powder. The Japanese tea ceremony focuses on Matcha’s preparation, serving, and drinking. [1] Because matcha can be bitter, it is traditionally served with a traditional sweet mochi-based tea cakes. Mochi is a cake made from glutinous rice. [2] Popular tea cakes include Daifuku (a round mochi with sweet fillings) and Wagashi (a Japanese confectionery made with mocha, fruits, red bean paste, and nuts.)   
  
HISTORY

Tea was introduced to Japan from China in the 9th century CE through a Buddhist monk called Eichu. A few centuries later, another Buddhist monk, Eisai, brought Chinese method of preparing powdered tea in 1191. As powdered tea preparation continued to be an important ritual at Zen monasteries, it eventually became Japanese Tea Ceremony. It was highly appreciated by the upper society during the 14th century. By 16th century, many tea houses and tea gardens were built based on tea philosophy and principle, developed by Sen no Rikyū. Tea drinking and its teaching also became a common practice for people in all classes. [3]

Today, Matcha is still an essential tea for Japanese Tea Ceremony. It also became a popular worldwide. The flavor, Matcha, is being used in many modern desserts such as Matcha chocolate, ice cream, and cake. Starbucks also introduced Matcha drinks such as Green Tea Latte and Green Tea Frappucino. [4]
 
HEALTH

Matcha is beneficial to our body if we consume the right amount. According to University of Maryland Medical Center, they recommend adults to drink around two to three cups of green tea a day. (providing between 240 and 320 milligrams of polyphenols.) [5]

Matcha is basically green tea, so it has so many health benefits includes:
  • protect your body from cancer: prevent bladder, breast, ovarian, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, prostate, esophageal, skin and stomach cancers 
  •  help boost your metabolism
  • lowers overall cholesterol levels
  • raises the levels of HDL, high density lipoprotein 
  •  preventing atherosclerosis 
  • promoting alertness and mental awareness
**Please note that there is some danger associated with drinking large quantities of Matcha (green tea) during pregnancy. It is also best to avoid drinking it on an empty stomach because it is somewhat acidic and can cause stomach discomfort. [6]

TEA WARE 

Special tea equipments are used for making Matcha. First, Matcha powder needs to be sieved and then placed into a small tea caddy known as a chaki. By using a small bamboo tea spoon (chashaku) it measures the powder and scoop it into the tea bowl (chawan). Note that a Tea bowl (chawan) is used instead of a tea cup so that it is large enough to whisk the fine powder tea with a bamboo whisk. (chasen) For tea ceremony, a tea cloth (chakin) is commonly used for cleaning tea ware.

PREPARATION

There are two types of matcha: thin (usucha) and thick (koicha). Thick Matcha usually uses double amount of Matcha powder than in a thin Matcha drink. Usucha creates a lighter and slightly more bitter tea. Koicha is normally made with more expensive matcha from older tea trees (exceeding thirty years) and, thus, produces a milder and sweeter tea than usucha. Koicha is served almost exclusively as part of Japanese tea ceremonies.

For making thin tea (Usucha):
  1. It is prepared with approximately 1.75 grams (around 1.5 chashaku scoop, or about half a teaspoon) of matcha
  2. Add approximately 75 ml (2.5 oz) of hot water per serving.
  3. Whisk with a chasen until no lumps left in the liquid, and no ground tea should remain on the sides of the bowl.
For making thick tea, Koicha:
  1. It requires approximately 3.75 grams (3 heaping chashaku scoops, or about one teaspoon) of matcha.
  2. Add approximately 40 ml (1.3 oz) of hot water per serving, or as many as six teaspoons to 3/4 cup of water.
  3. Because the resulting mixture is significantly thicker, blending it requires a slower, stirring motion that does not produce foam.