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 Shiro no Kotobuki is a prized ceremonial grade matcha from the heart of Kyoto Prefecture. Shiro no Kotobuki is a highly respectful name honoring the noble pride of Kyoto tea culture and history. Shiro literally means "castle," yet here it alludes to the placename Yamashiro no Kuni, a region in southern Kyoto. The imperial court ruled in Yamashiro no Kuni during the Muromachi period, when tea culture flourished throughout Japan. Kotobuki means "celebrated" or "noble."
Tasting Notes: Shiro no Kotobuki has a rich, creamy mouthfeel and a deep, lasting umami flavor. It is a smooth, full-bodied matcha with a powerful energy that both uplifts and brings focus at the same time.
Ingredients: Stone-milled Japanese green tea powder.
Tea leaves are harvested by hand in May in tea gardens in Uji, Joyo, Kyotonabe, Kumiyama, Yamashiro and Ide areas of Kyoto Prefecture. Asahi, Samidori, Goko and Uji Hikari cultivars are grown in these gardens. Asahi is a cultivar treasured for tencha production because of its deep umami character. Matcha Shiro no Kotobuki is stone-milled fresh upon request for Rishi Tea, with a production capacity and grinding speed yielding just 600g per day.
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