Beyond the Leaf
What is matcha?
Matcha is a powdered green tea typically used in the Japanese tea ceremony.
How do you make matcha?
-Place 2 teaspoons of matcha into a bowl.
-Add 8 oz. of 175 degree water.
-Whisk the matcha for 30 seconds in quick “M” and “W” shapes with your wrist until it is fully dissolved and frothy on top.
Do you need special equipment / special whisk?
Traditionally, matcha is made in a matcha bowl (chawan) with a bamboo whisk (chasen). You can also use a standard soup bowl and a kitchen whisk.
How is matcha different from regular tea? What kind of green tea does matcha come from?
Matcha is made from the highest grade Japanese green tea, similar to Gyokuro. Shade-grown tea buds are plucked, the stems and veins are removed. The leaves are then ground into a fine powder.
How long does matcha stay fresh?
If stored well, matcha will stay fresh for up to one year. After that, it will slowly start to lose some of its flavor and vitality.
What’s the best way to store matcha?
The best way to store matcha is in an airtight container away from light, moisture, and other aromas in a cupboard or drawer.
How much caffeine does matcha have compared to regular green tea?
Matcha contains more caffeine than a regular green tea because it is made up of the whole tea leaf. Therefore, it releases more caffeine and antioxidants into the cup.
Health benefits of matcha?
Since all tea comes from the same plant, it’s all good for you. However, matcha is the only tea where you actually consume the whole leaf. Therefore, a cup of matcha will contain more antioxidants than other teas.
What is the traditional Japanese way to do Matcha?
-Use a bamboo tea scoop (chasaku) to measure two scoops of matcha.
-Place the matcha in your matcha bowl (chawan).
-Add ¼ cup of 170 degree water.
-Use a bamboo whisk (chasen) to whisk the matcha.
-Whisk in “M” and “W” shapes until it is fully dissolved and frothy.
Where to go for the Japanese tea ceremony?
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory offers a traditional Japanese Tea ceremony. You can register on their website.
Check out some other ways our TeaSource staff is enjoying our new Matcha green teas. The possibilities are endless!
Organic Matcha Latte
1. Whisk ½ - 1 tsp of Organic Matcha in ¼ cup of water (heated to 160-180 degrees)
2. Add 6-8oz. of milk (heated 160-180 degrees)
3. Sweeten to taste (optional)
Blueberry Matcha Latte
1. Whisk 1- 2 tsp of Blueberry Matcha in ¼ cup of water (heated to 160-180 degrees)
2. Add 6-8oz. of milk (heated 160-180 degrees)
Vanilla Matcha Shake
1 tablespoon Organic Vanilla Matcha
1 cup milk of your choice
Handful of ice
Place a large juice glass or jar in the freezer for as long as possible. In a blender, blend the matcha, milk and ice until smooth. Serve in the chilled glass.
Matcha Raspberry Smoothie
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup frozen peaches
1/4 cup frozen strawberries
1/2-3/4 cup milk of your choice
1 1/2 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon Organic Raspberry Matcha
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Our summer has gotten easier and more refreshing thanks to our new Shake & Go tumbler! It is a convenient tool for making matcha – hot or iced. When the straw is removed, the cup seals making it leak-proof and spill-proof.
Here is how we shake up our new Matchas:
Hot Matcha in a Shake & Go
1. Put 4 level teaspoons of matcha and 16 oz. of boiling water in a Shake & Go tumbler
2. Shake until dissolved
Iced Matcha in a Shake & Go
1. Put 1 tablespoon of matcha and 8 oz. of boiling water in Shake & Go Tumbler
2. Shake until dissolved
3. Fill cup with ice
4. Shake well
One of the great perks of my job is working with people who know a lot more than I do. On June 19th we presented the latest in the TeaSource Tea Masters workshops featuring Chaminda Jayawardana, the managing director of Lumbini Tea Factory, Deniyaya, Sri Lanka. Lumbini is one of the most awarded tea gardens/factories on Sri Lanka.
Chaminda and I had an absolute great time working together—and once again I came out of these workshops learning far more than I knew going in.
But before the workshop we had to stop and get some tea; at TeaSource in St Anthony, MN. Chaminda was traveling with his close friend, colleague, neighbor, and direct competitor Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Harris Ukkika Mahadiulwewa (henceforth referred to as “Harris”). One of the many things I love about the tea business is that competitors can be close friends; and neither the business nor the friendship has to suffer. That’s me on the left, Harris in the middle, and Chaminda on the right.
Chaminda and Harris had never tried high quality Taiwanese Jade oolongs before, so we indulged with some Tung Ting Light Roast Oolong.
Ringing Chaminda up at the St Anthony TeaSource. He saw tea paraphernalia he had never seen before, and yes, I gave him a discount.
Me, Chaminda, and Harris at St Anthony. Harris was impressed when he saw wooden tea chests from Lumbini (and other tea gardens) throughout the store.
And I got to play tour guide, taking Chaminda and Harris for a walk along the Mississippi, exploring Minnehaha Falls, visiting the Stone Arch Bridge Festival and Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis (we do have 10,000 lakes after all), and ending up at Guitar Center in Roseville, they don’t’ have Guitar Center stores in Deniyaya, Sri Lanka and Chaminda is a musician in addition to being a tea master.
Back at the TeaSource warehouse in Roseville. In preparation for the 50 people coming in for the workshop, we scavenged every chair and table throughout the building and arranged them in the open warehouse space for participants—which meant that we had nothing left in our offices/cupping room etc. Chaminda had brought 2 new samples of tea he wanted me to try. So rather than cupping them up in our cupping room (which at that point was just an empty space with no chairs or tables), we decided to sample and evaluate these teas on the customer ledge by our office administrator’s desk. We were sampling two Lumbini samples of grade OP1 grade Ceylon black tea, for some blending we will be doing later this year.
The warehouse tour for workshop participants. It always surprises me how many people want a tour of our work space.
Chaminda and I start talking about tea. Chaminda’s role was to be the expert and to make sure everyone (including me) walked out knowing a lot more about growing Ceylon tea, than we knew coming in. My role was mostly comic relief and amazement at the tea-maker’s craft. We had a lot of fun together.
Lumbini Estate (and all Ceylon tea gardens) had only dealt with tea brokers until I convinced Chaminda to bypass brokers and sell directly to wholesale customers. Chaminda and Lumbini now sell direct to more than 15 countries across the world. TeaSource was first.
This Lumbini Silver Needles is the first tea I bought from Chaminda. I brought back 2 gigantic duffle bags stuffed with this tea when I flew back from my first visit to Lumbini. To me the most amazing part of this tea is the fact that Chaminda had never heard of Chinese Yin Zhen (Chinese Silver Needle white tea), when he created his own Silver Needles.
The TeaSource infographic on Ceylon and Ceylon teas. It shows all the major growing regions, and Lumbini Tea Factory.
I took a couple of minutes to read from my great grandfather’s memoir. He was in Ceylon in the 1860’s and 1870’s helping establish the first tea gardens.
“I will mention here a few things a young tea planter should learn as soon as possible. First and foremost he must learn to speak to the coolies in their own language - the Tamil. He must learn how to make nurseries from seed or cutting, how to prune and care for the crops, drain and make roads in the new plantation. He must also learn to design and superintend the building, whether in wattle and dab for the coolies’ “huts” or in brick and stone for his own building. He must learn something of sickness and the simple medicines to give. He should, by all means, know enough to sew a button, in an extremity ….
I wish here to remark on my affection for the kindness, and “bon comradie” (sic) of all the tea planters I met in Ceylon. We used to meet at each other’s bungalows and have a “sing a song.” Each one had to sing a song and tell a story, or drink a glass of salt and water. I shall never forget those days.”
From “The Life and Travels of Augustus Waddington”
an unpublished memoir, 1870
Augustus Waddington, Welsh tea man in Ceylon
Chaminda examining the leaf, and explaining the detail of why Lumbini teas are so special and have won so many awards. They are all hand-plucked and orthodox processed, i.e. minimal use of machines during processing. It is so much fun to listen to someone who is expert and passionate about their field.
Everyone sampled six Ceylon different teas (and went home with a couple of more). One of the amazing things about Ceylon teas is that while it is a small island: the diversity of tea styles, flavors, is huge.
- Lumbini Silver Needles | White Tea
- Oodooware Estate, Pekoe | Black Tea
- Gonapitiya Estate, FBOP | Black Tea
- Ceylon Blend Mid-Grown | Black Tea Blend
- Ceylon Burning Sun | Black Tea Blend
- Inverness Estate, FBOPF1 | Black Tea
“Stick your nose in the cup.” During workshops I say that a lot. Tea is as much an olfactory experience as it is a taste experience.
The community of Twin Cities tea enthusiasts has grown quite large and is …. well …. enthusiastic. And it is a whole lot of fun when we all get together and sample and talk teas.
And of course, since this was a celebration (of Ceylon teas) everyone had to walk home with some swag bags.
Me, autographing a Ceylon tea poster—that was a little unusual, but wisely the participant had asked for Chaminda’s autograph first.
Chaminda and one of the many appreciative attendees. People did seem to have a great time.
Good tea makes good friends. Lumbini is some of the best tea, so it’s not surprising it has led to one of the best friendships.
TeaSource will be educating, sampling, promoting, and introducing new varieties of the most famous of all Japanese green teas, Matcha, this summer and into the fall. We’ll also be putting up a series of blog posts about Matcha, so if you haven’t done so already, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Let's get started!
Boiling it Down: What is Matcha?
Matcha is a powdered green tea from Japan. It is made from a high grade tea that is shaded for at least three weeks before plucking. Shading causes the leaves to produce much more chlorophyll, giving the tea a brilliant emerald color. The leaves are then ground into a fine powder. Traditionally, matcha is used in the Japanese tea ceremony. The first formal tea ceremony in Japan occurred in the eighth century when the emperor invited monks to take tea at his palace. Tea was a rare and valuable commodity at the time and it was used primarily in religious settings or for medicinal purposes. Today, matcha is not bound by the same social and economic formalities. It can be enjoyed hot or cold, in ice cream, smoothies, and lattes.
The World Tea Expo (or WTE) is the world’s largest international tea exhibition (there are larger tea expos in China that are strictly Chinese not international), was held in Las Vegas this year.
With exhibitors and speakers from the Twin Cities, San Francisco, NYC, Hamburg, London, Argentina, Bolivia, South Africa, Malawi, Kenya, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, China, Japan, Indonesia, the TeaSource crew gets to hang out with other tea geeks.
TeaSource was very happy to be there, and as usual we had lots going on at our booth. Including a special presentation by Taiwan’s Ambassador of Tea, Thomas Shu, who did an extensive workshop on Taiwanese oolongs. Above are the four teas Thomas shared with the crowd: Jade Oolong, Amber Oolong, Oriental Beauty and Ruby 18.
Thomas Shu (above) did the hard part; educating and entertaining about tea. If you’ve never heard Thomas Shu sing check this out.
We had the easy part; just preparing and distributing the tea. One comment from an experienced Sri Lankan tea grower, about the Jade Oolong, “This might be one of the best teas I’ve ever tasted.”
The Lumbini Tea Booth was one of the most happening places at the World Tea Expo (Chaminda is at the far left). There was always a crowd there for two reasons: the tea is great and the Lumbini guys love talking about tea.
Nigel Melican, me, and Raj from Stone Mountain tea. That is not a skeptical look on my face, it is more a “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy” look. Nigel is the western world’s most respected tea scientist. If you like the geeky side of tea and/or took apart household appliances as a kid—you will really appreciate Nigel… check out this interview.
In the photo above he is estimating the catechin level of one of Raj’s tea, by simply tasting it, and the amazing thing is he would end up being pretty accurate.
The WTE is THE major trade show for the specialty tea industry; and TeaSource is proud to be part of this community of tea traders, tea teachers (and students), and tea geeks. TeaSource presented four different workshops/classes, did tons of sampling at our booth, and met some wonderful new tea people. It was a great week drinking and talking tea.