Recently, a friend was describing her “love for this new tea I found” and starts telling us about Matcha. We didn’t want to burst her bubble and tell her it’s been around for a long time, but it got us thinking about how much we really know about Matcha’s long and distinguished history.

 

BACK THEN...

The bulk of Aiya’s Matcha green tea is grown in Nishio, in the heart of Aichi prefecture, which has long been a historic tea cultivating region dating back to the 1200’s. That’s right, for over 800 years, Matcha has been around! Notably, Zen Buddhist monks drank Matcha green tea before meditation to relax and increase their mental focus. However, the origins of this distinct tea go even further back to the Chinese Zen monks of the 8th century. These individuals discovered how to pulverize tea leaves (rather than steam) to form into tea bricks. The monks would then break off a piece of the tea brick and mash it into a fine powder, then combine it with hot water in a bowl and whisk it. Over time, preparation of tea became ritualistic and elaborate ceremonies were created around the consumption of this tea.

Around 1191, Matcha green tea and these ceremonies were brought to Japan by the monk Eisai Myon. Eisai became a very vocal supporter of both Matcha and Zen Buddhism, and even helped introduce both to Japanese higher society. Later, while consuming Matcha fell out of favor in China, Matcha’s popularity in Japan continued to grow and be associated with culture and social status. The enjoyment of Matcha expanded to others through the chanoyu, or tea ceremony. Elaborate ceremonies using various art forms were created by tea masters, and later adopted more widely throughout Japanese society.

 

AND NOW!

OUR CURRENT LOVE AFFAIR WITH MATCHA

Today, appreciation for Matcha has led to the development of careful growing, cultivating and processing techniques. Additional steps are taken in the production cycle – from shade growing to handpicking to granite stone grinding – to ensure that this unique and healthy tea is produced into the best quality possible. Over time, generations of Matcha sommeliers have refined the trade to craft blends that appeal to everyone from the long-established traditional Japanese tea ceremony drinker to today’s experimental baker and R&D formulators.

Within the past decade, Matcha green tea has steadily made its way from Japan to North America and beyond. It’s been spotted with celebrities, praised by nutritionists and “foodies,” and embraced by the media. It’s easy to buy in specialty food stores and online from quality manufacturers. It’s even replacing coffee for people who want the energy boost without the jittery crash.

MORE THAN A HOT TEA

Nowadays, Matcha is known for being more than just the simple hot tea from centuries ago. Portable, single-serving Matcha sticks have become very popular for their quick and easy application; simple shake in a cold water bottle to enjoy an iced green tea. Not to mention, Matcha’s versatile form as a powdered ingredient allows it to shine in all sorts of beautiful and delicious food recipes. Green tea lovers in North America start their day by baking Matcha into muffins, adding it in smoothies or lattes, or simply sprinkling it onto yogurt for an afternoon boost. Many end the day with easy-to-make desserts like Matcha ice cream, cookies or cake. You can even get creative and use it to whip up signature Matcha cocktails!

As more people experiment with Matcha, we love seeing and hearing about their experiences. Whatever is your favorite way to enjoy it, we think you’ll agree- the exceptional flavor and incredible health benefits (like high antioxidant content and natural energy boost) means you can’t go wrong with Matcha!