Ceremonial Matcha is called ceremonial, because it is a high quality matcha grown and processed with great care that is used in the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremonies. Tea bushes are carefully nurtured. Tea grown with proper composting, nutrients and water from fresh water wells, makes a tremendous difference in the quality of the tea.
To be considered ceremonial level matcha, the tea plants are shaded up to 21 days prior to hand-picking. The shading forces the chlorophyll up into the outermost top leaves of the tea plants. The tea leaves are washed, lightly steamed, and dried; then de-stemmed and de-veined. The leaves are laid out flat to dry, and are called tencha. Only these high quality tencha leaves are then stone-ground into the finest pure powder and called ‘ceremonial matcha.’ Japanese processors follow strict guidelines to ensure the highest quality ceremonial matcha.
Because matcha is made from top-quality leaves, it delivers more of the healthful elements of green tea than the other forms of tea. Unique and rich in flavor, matcha creates a feeling of well-being with a gentle lift from its low level caffeine. Stone grinding the matcha takes up to one hour to grind 1 ounce or 30 grams of matcha. The finely ground powder is whisked with hot water in a bowl to make a frothy beverage. It is the preparation of matcha which is the focus of Japanese tea ceremonies.
Historically matcha dates back to China during the Tang Dynasty (618-960). Tea leaves were steamed and then formed into tea bricks that the monks could use to store and trade the tea. Tea was roasted, pulverized and a little salt thrown in with some boiling water. Even today you can order tea bricks on-line. Simply break off a piece of the tea from the brick, steep in some hot water and make a delicious pot of tea. It’s a wonderful way to store tea and use over a longer period of time.
Tea Brick from Tang Dynasty
During the Song Dynasty (960-1279) making tea powder and then whipping the tea powder became a popular way of making the tea in China, thus the origins of making matcha and developing a tea ritual or ‘tea ceremony’ by Zen Buddhist monks. It was in 1191 the Zen Monk Eisai traveled from China back to Japan bringing tea seeds and the matcha powdered tea tradition to Japan.
Progressing though time during the last 800 years in Japan, matcha tea became popular, first within higher society and then progressing to the 16th century, making tea available to everyone. Tea was drunk medicinally, but also for pleasure. Today we realize the amazing health benefits of tea with names like anti-oxidants, chlorophyll, l-theanine, and vitamin C. Tea drinkers during the last centuries in China and Japan, were receiving the benefits of drinking tea, although we now know scientifically what is in the tea creating the health and well-being.
Tea Masters perform the tea ceremony in Japan with honor, respect and tradition. There is a special step-by-step procedure to perfect the making of the tea. It is even said that one may spend a lifetime perfecting the tea ceremony.
Our recommended favorite is ceremonial Tea Lover’s Matcha. Tea Lover’s provides high quality ceremonial matcha, sweet and smooth with a mix of subtle complex flavor at a price lower than other matchas of this level. It’s delicious!
“Tang Dynasty circa 700 CE” by Ian Kiu – Tang Dynasty 700 AD from “The T’ang Dynasty, 618-906 A.D.-Boundaries of 700 A.D.” Albert Herrmann (1935). History and Commercial Atlas of China. Harvard University Press.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tang_Dynasty_circa_700_CE.png#/media/File:Tang_Dynasty_circa_700_CE.png
Yunnan Tea Brick: MarkTWendall.com
Tea Ceremony Whisking: loveandwill.com
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Tea Lover’s Matcha.