Matcha is a powdered green tea that comes from Japan, and is not to be mistaken as Mate or Maca from South America. Many people when they hear the word Matcha they get it mistaken for Mate and Maca. Although Mate and Maca can be used to make tea, it does not come from the Camellia Sinensis plant where the traditional teas come from such as; white tea, green tea, oolong tea, and black tea.
Within Japan there are two main Matcha producing regions, Uji in the Kyoto Prefecture and Nishio in the Aichi Prefecture. Many people may have heard of Uji since it is in Kyoto which is famous and well renowned for its history. Nishio on the other hand is lesser known city found in the heart of central Japan. This tea growing region is very rural with pristine rivers and clean air due to the lack of urbanization. This in turn helps create a wonderful environment to cultivate tea.
In some instances you might find Matcha coming from another region in Japan such as Shizuoka. Shizuoka is more known for Sencha, so when Matcha comes from another region other than Uji or Nishio I would personally be cautious because the quality may not be up to the same standards as those of Uji and Nishio farmers. There are other cases where you may see Matcha coming from China, Taiwan, or other countries all together. This becomes more suspect because again Matcha only comes from Japan. Many of times these are powdered teas that they are calling Matcha.
Technically Matcha translates into “grounded tea” but in Japan they make a distinct difference between what is considered Matcha and what is considered a powdered tea. This is because Matcha has a unique cultivation and manufacturing process unlike other teas. For more on that wait for out next post detailing how Matcha is made.