Matcha is a distinct member of the green tea family, steeped in tradition and with a starring role in Japanese tea ceremonies. Although derived from green tea, it undergoes a unique growing, processing, and preparation process that sets it apart from standard loose or bagged varieties.
To produce matcha, tea buds are shaded prior to harvest, causing the leaves to produce more chlorophyll (the green pigment in plants). This results in vivid green leaves with a sweet, yet complex flavour that boasts umami notes. Once harvested, the leaves are finely milled into a powder, which can then be whisked with water to create a frothy, velvety cup of tea. Unlike regular green tea, where the leaves are infused with water and then removed, with matcha, you consume the entire tea leaves, resulting in a more potent and concentrated cup of tea.
During our trip, we sipped and savoured matcha all over, but the pinnacle was visiting the Ippodo tearoom in Kyoto, a centuries-old tea purveyor renowned for producing high-quality Japanese tea. Having been introduced to the company many moons ago, I’ve been shipping their tea to New Zealand for years. Enjoying a tea bowl, accompanied by seasonal wagashi, was a dreamy tick on the foodie bucket list.