Asian Cuisine,  Culinary History,  Food History,  History,  Tea,  Tourism

A Love Affair with Matcha

If there is one drink that would define Japanese culture, it would be matcha tea. Matcha is finely ground green tea leaves that have been carefully cultivated. The tea leaves are then dried thoroughly and ground in stone mills. Matcha is unique in that it is powdered and so it brews instantly once mixed with a hot liquid. Also because it is powdered, it is concentrated and the caffeine is one of the highest among teas. Besides being drunk daily by many Japanese, it also finds its way into food as a flavor and is used as a cosmetic.

The Japanese have been drinking matcha tea and green tea specifically for hundreds of years. It was first introduced to Japanese monks by the Chinese in 1100. Even though it has a taste that must be aquired, matcha tea has lots of health benefits. It’s rich in antioxidants, increases energy and mental clarity and reduces blood pressure.

One of the most fascinating traditions in Japanese is their exquisite tea ceremony. The ceremony is known as “chanoyu” or “The Way of Tea”. An elegant ritual, the idea behind the tea ceremony is to strive for inner peace and harmony through slowing down and enjoying the different parts of the process. Small sweets are often served to counteract the bitter matcha and the tea is carefully prepared. The graceful ceremony takes time and has many different elements.

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