Welcome to the world of matcha, known for its rich aroma and strong flavor
Matcha, the origin of Japanese tea culture
A wide variety of green teas are consumed daily in Japan, including sencha, a middle grade green tea, and gyokuro, a refined green tea. Matcha is a type of green tea, but it has one characteristic that differs greatly from others. Matcha is a powder, unlike sencha and gyokuro, which are larger leaves when used.
It is believed that green tea was imported to Japan from China over 1000 years ago. At first, only nobles and samurai were able to enjoy tea, but it gradually became popular among ordinary citizens. Wabicha, an original Japanese tea ceremony style was established around 500 years ago, and helped this unique part of Japanese culture grow.
Currently, the matcha used in Japanese tea ceremonies is not only consumed as a drink but also used to make sweets and other foods. The nutrients in tea leaves that combat aging and support health are also drawing people’s attention. In this issue, we discuss matcha, whose popularity is increasing around the world.
Matcha, beneficial to health and beauty
Matcha is known for its rich aroma and strong, bittersweet flavor. When growing tea, the tea shrubs are covered for a certain period to prevent their leaves from being exposed to direct sunlight. It is believed that this helps decrease the bitterness of the leaves, while increasing their deliciousness and aroma. To produce matcha, the tough parts of the leaves, such as stems and veins are removed. Only the tender parts of the leaves are carefully ground using a stone mill to ensure the leaves are turned into fine powder. This requires time and effort, but it is not possible to achieve the flavor and aroma of matcha without this process.
The matcha dissolves in hot water, enabling you to consume its useful nutrients more efficiently than with other types of tea leaves brewed in a tea pot. For example, the nutrient theanine, which brings out the delicious sweetness of tea leaves, is believed to have a healing effect, such as reducing stress and relaxing the mind and body. Other nutrients include catechin, an anti-aging component that also suppresses the generation of active oxygen, which is believed to be a risk factor for cancer and arteriosclerosis; and caffeine, which is a diuretic and also stimulates the brain. Matcha appears to have many properties benefitting both mind and body.
In recent years, a growing number of people want to know how to make the most of its beautiful green color and wonderful aroma. It is no wonder that there are many posts on social media explaining how to use matcha in stylish ways, including mixing matcha into cookie dough and ice cream, using it as a topping on parfaits and cakes, and using it to make smoothies and sweets. Tourists visiting Japan often purchase matcha-flavored chocolates and snacks to take home, showing that matcha has become a flavor that truly represents Japan.
The popularity of matcha continues to increase around the world. In this issue, we will introduce matcha stores that are popular among the locals in America and Thailand. Both are Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores.
America “Matcha.com” A desire to increase global awareness of the virtues of matcha led to the launch of an online matcha store
As a child, André took karate and jujutsu lessons. He was already interested in Japanese culture. His business partner Dr. Weil became fascinated by matcha and tea sets during his visit to Japan, and developed an interest in Japanese culture and food. Being a doctor, he also recognized the great potential of matcha as a superfood able to help attain health and beauty.
They spent ten years establishing a matcha business, and finally launched an online store in Phoenix, Arizona in 2016. The goal of their business is to globally increase people's awareness of the delicious taste of matcha, while also advertising its health and beauty benefits.
They purchase matcha from 60 different tea farmers in and around Kyoto, a major matcha production area in Japan that has a tea-growing history reaching back 800 years. The annual sales of Matcha.com have increased by 300% in recent years. 80% of their customers are in America, and 15% are in Canada. Their other customers are in the UK, Australia, China, and India. Young people have been thinking of innovative ways to use matcha. Some add it to milk or smoothies, and others use it in cooking. In addition to running a business, André and Dr. Weil are planning to publish a matcha recipe book.
It is certain that demand for delicious, healthy matcha will continue to grow in America.
Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Store
・Store name: Matcha.com
・Store URL: https://matcha.com/
Thailand “MTCH” A popular cafe filled with the inviting aroma of matcha
“I first encountered matcha when I entered a store in Bangkok five years ago. The place was filled with the aroma of matcha.” said Mr. Jev. Later, he visited Uji in Kyoto, one of the major matcha production areas in Japan, and became a devoted fan. He started to think about opening a matcha cafe himself as he learned about the production process, discovering its rich aroma and flavor. He quit work to teach himself about matcha, reading books and attending workshops. It took several years to negotiate deals with matcha farmers in Japan, and finally he opened MTCH in Bangkok in January 2020, the cafe he had been dreaming of.
MTCH is in the stylish Ari district in the center of Bangkok, alongside many shops and office buildings. MTCH's customers include people working in the area, students, and families. While the majority of the matcha MTCH sells is from Yame, Fukuoka, matcha from other areas of Japan, such as Uji, are also available.
Many customers prefer to order cold drinks due to Bangkok's hot climate. Matcha juice, MTCH's signature drink, is prepared with yuzu, watermelon, and coconut. Iced matcha and matcha lattes are also popular. Customers are able to choose the matcha they would like used in their latte. There are several options, each from a different production area. People praise the authentic flavor, even with the price being three times more expensive than the milk tea that is widely available in Thailand.
MTCH relocated to a larger space in November 2020, still within the Ari district. In addition to drinks, they are planning to offer sweets made with matcha, such as cheesecakes and ice creams, in the future.