What is Matcha?
Matcha is a traditional Japanese green tea produced by stone-milling a shade-grown green tea called tencha into a fine powder. The quality of matcha greatly depends on the tea bush cultivar, shading technique and picking standard used to produce tencha. Matcha has a rich cultural tradition as the tea prepared and revered during chanoyu–the mindful, artistic, Zen-inspired Japanese Tea Ceremony. Matcha is unique among teas in that when we drink matcha, we consume fresh green tea leaf itself, ground and whisked up into an energizing, refreshing bowl. Today, matcha is enjoyed in both a popular form (as a sort of uplifting "tea espresso") as well as artistic form (through the continued practice of chanoyu). "Ceremonial" grades (for drinking) are distinct from "Culinary" grades (for matcha lattes, confections, desserts, etc).
Matcha Houju is our highest grade of ceremonial matcha. This rare matcha is of a class traditionally reserved for the most exclusive of tea ceremonies. It has an unbelievable aroma, flavor, and energizing focusing effect unlike any other matcha. Matcha Houju may be prepared as usucha ("thin tea") or koicha ("thick tea"). Houju, literally "precious longevity" or "precious eternity" is the konomi, or "treasured matcha" of our producer and partner Hekisuien.
Tasting Notes: Matcha Houju contains a rush of umami flavor backed by a deep sweetness that lingers endlessly on the palate. Its rich, creamy foam creates a smooth, full mouthfeel. A bowl of Matcha Houju bestows tremendous energy that inspires and uplifts the drinker into a meditative state of alertness.
Ingredients: Stone-milled Japanese green tea powder.
The tencha for Matcha Houju is harvested by hand every May in tea gardens in Uji and Joyo areas of Kyoto Prefecture by farmer Mr. Watanabe. This tencha is harvested solely from tea bushes of the Asahi cultivar, which is prized for its intense umami and deeply sweet, green character. Matcha Houju is stone-milled at a very slow, cautious grinding speed to ensure that the matcha retains its full flavor, sublime energy and pristine, vibrant green color. Only 150g of this rare matcha can be produced each day. Like all of our premium matchas, Matcha Houju is ground fresh and delivered by airmail direct from Kyoto throughout the year in small quantities to ensure the freshest matcha experience.
Tencha is harvested just once per year between May and June, and is grown almost exclusively to make matcha. Tencha tea bushes are shaded for 3–5 weeks prior to harvest using a traditional frame-and-thatch technique known as tana
, which blocks 70-85% of the sun's energy from reaching the tea bushes. Shading inhibits photosynthesis in the tea plant, boosting chlorophyll levels and creating a deep green leaf color. The tea bush draws up nutrients stored in its roots and grows wide, thin, tender tea leaves in a struggle to gather more light. These plant adaptations all result in boosted levels of natural plant sugars, amino acids and caffeine, along with decreased levels of catechins, giving high quality matcha its distinctively sweet, umami-rich flavor with a creamy texture and low bitterness. While common, mass-market grades of tencha are harvested by machine, the best grades of tencha with the most tender, sweet flavor are harvested by scissor or hand plucking.
The highest quality matchas are milled using traditional granite stone wheels. Stone-milling tencha into matcha results in a richer, smoother, creamier matcha than the more common ball-milling technique. The speed at which tencha is stone-ground plays an important role in the flavor and color of the finished matcha powder. Slower grinding speeds reduce the friction and heat applied to the tencha leaf, helping preserve its vivid green color and fresh flavor, whereas faster grinding speeds can "toast" the tencha leaf and cause its bright color to fade to a greenish yellow.
Learn more about how our matcha is crafted
Step 1: Sift 1 tsp (2g) into a matcha bowl
Step 2: Add 2.5 oz (70ml) water at 170°F
Step 3: Use a chasen to whisk until foamy
Step 1: Sift 2 tsp (4g) per guest into a matcha bowl
Step 2: Add 1.5oz (40ml) water per guest at 180°F
Step 3: Use a chasen to whisk slowly until thick
2 Reviews Total - Overall User Rating
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By Rayanne on January 17, 2013
NY United States
I drink matcha daily, and typically drink the rishi tea matcha packets, which are very handy. However, I have tried several different kinds of matcha, including a certified organic brand. NO matcha tea even comes close to the taste of Houju matcha! It is practically without bitterness and has a unique floral note that I can only call spectacular. Definitely not for daily consumption, but it is the most delicate, delicious, and beautiful matcha I have ever tasted. I will say that I have never been to Japan and tasted available matcha there, so I cannot state with certainty that it is the best in the world. However, in my opinion it must be very close to the best if not the best and worth every penny if you enjoy matcha.
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By Ashley on August 2, 2014
Tempe, AL United States
I too have tried many different types of matcha--including the Rishi tea packets (which are a staple when I am on the go) but this stuff is truly fantastic! In order to fully appreciate it it must be prepared properly. I was initially disappointed with it because I wasn't using a mesh strainer to remove clumps and was using it for thin matcha. This matcha is so finely milled that it is critical you use a strainer of some sort. It clumps more than other matcha I've had. Preparing it by first pushing it through a small mesh strainer with your bamboo scoop and then adding just 2-3oz of warm water and frothing with a bamboo whisk will create unbelievably delicious, frothy matcha that is smooth, sweet, and not the least bit bitter.
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