Matcha has been drunk in Japan for over 800 years. Matcha is made from the dried leaves of the tea plant. But, matcha is different from other teas. Matcha is made by grinding the tea leaves into a fine powder. Other teas are the distillation of tea essence from the leaves, leaving the leaves in the teapot unused. Matcha uses the whole of tea leaves leaving nothing behind. It is very unique.
How to serve matcha:
Using a bamboo spoon, put the matcha powder into a tea bowl. Afterwards, using a bamboo ladle, add hot water into the bowl. Then, using a bamboo whisk, whisk the contents quickly. It is very simple. However, there are many methods, styles and deep meanings to go with them. For example, I mentioned that all the tools are made from bamboo. I think there is some special meaning for why everything must be bamboo.
Matcha is made using the first leaves of the season and only the highest quality leaves. Those leaves are picked by hand with care. The leaves and plants are covered by sheets to prevent sun from shining directly on them. Covered tea plants grow slower than others and don’t dry out as fast. This generates a rich flavor. The growing method is the same with sencha, another high quality Japanese tea.
Matcha is a healthier drink than regular tea, because it contains much more caffeine, tannin, polyphenol, catechine and vitamins.
The contents and the flavor are very distinct when matched with other foods. Matcha desserts are especially famous. You must know green tea ice cream. I know of many other desserts in Japan using matcha: chocolates, cakes, cookies, candies, soy bean paste and wagashi(traditional Japanese sweets). I also know of matcha-salt which is used for tempura.