Green tea is processed using either artisanal or modern methods. Sun-drying, basket or charcoal firing, or pan-firing are common artisanal methods. Oven-drying, tumbling, or steaming are common modern methods. Processed green teas, known as aracha, are stored under low humidity refrigeration in 30- or 60-kg paper bags at 0–5 °C (32–41 °F). This aracha has yet to be refined at this stage, with a final firing taking place before blending, selection and packaging take place. The leaves in this state will be re-fired throughout the year as they are needed, giving the green teas a longer shelf-life and better flavor. The first flush tea of May will readily store in this fashion until the next year's harvest. After this re-drying process, each crude tea will be sifted and graded according to size. Finally, each lot will be blended according to the blending order by the tasters and packed for sale.
Matcha is treated with a light-controlled process in the last few weeks before harvest. Shading the green tea plants stimulates an increase in the chlorophyll production in the leaves and gives Matcha Green Tea its rich emerald color. The lack of sunlight also brings about the amazing health benefits associated with Matcha by increasing the naturally-occurring levels of antioxidants, chlorophyll, caffeine, and L-Theanine.
^ Jump up to: a b Onakpoya, I; Spencer, E; Heneghan, C; Thompson, M (August 2014). "The effect of green tea on blood pressure and lipid profile: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials". Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Disease (Systematic Review & Meta-Analysis). 24 (8): 823–36. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2014.01.016. PMID 24675010.
Matcha comes in several grades that aren’t officially regulated, but the most important distinction is between ceremonial and culinary grade matcha. Ceremonial grade is made from the youngest, most tender tea leaves and is smooth and fine in texture. Use it when you’re planning to drink pure, unadulterated matcha or a top-notch latte. Culinary matcha is a less expensive and made from comparatively older leaves. It is best for baking, cooking, or making blended drinks where the matcha flavor is not imperative. (“Premium” or “select” matcha is somewhere in between the two major grades, and you can find organic versions of matcha in each category.)
Although research on the specific health benefits of matcha is limited, some studies suggest that regular consumption of green tea, in general, may help protect against certain health conditions. For instance, green tea appears to prevent age-related cognitive impairment, reduce LDL cholesterol, and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and other conditions such as prostate cancer.
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About two to four grams of matcha is placed into the bowl, traditionally using a bamboo scoop called a chashaku, and then about 60-80 ml of hot (70–85 °C or 158–185 °F, not boiling,) water is added. The mixture is then whisked to a uniform consistency, using a bamboo whisk known as a chasen. There must be no lumps left in the liquid, and no ground tea should remain on the sides of the bowl. Because matcha may be bitter, it is traditionally served with a small wagashi sweet (intended to be consumed before drinking), but without added milk or sugar. It usually is considered that 40 g of matcha will provide for 20 bowls of usucha or 10 bowls of koicha:
The reason that green tea has more health benefits attached to it than black tea is due to the processing. Black tea is processed in a way that allows for fermentation whereas green tea’s processing avoids the fermentation process. As a result, green tea retains maximum amount of antioxidants and poly-phenols the substances that give green tea its many benefits.
And not all the science has been favorable to tea. A report in the March 1 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine looking at green tea consumption in humans, found no effect on stomach cancers once adjustments were made for other factors that could affect risk. Those other factors included sex, age, history of stomach ulcer, use of tobacco or alcohol, and other dietary habits.