On Saturday, March 4th, we hosted an interactive workshop focused on all things matcha, featuring certified Japanese tea expert, Noli Ergas.
Noli presented a brief slide show including photographs of tea fields, various tea growing and shading methods, and slides illustrating how the nutritional values of matcha far exceed values attained from other tea types. When consuming matcha, one is getting 100% of the nutritional (water soluble and non-soluble) properties of the tea leaf (camellia sinensis). In contrast, only about 30% of those properties are attained through traditional steeping methods. Participants learned that the highly valuable catechin (anti-oxidant) Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is among the most important properties of the tea leaf and is available at the highest levels in matcha.
Noli whisked up samples of various grades of matcha, including our own ceremonial grade organic matcha, ground for us on location in Shizuoka, Japan. While virtually any tea can be ground up and consumed like matcha, ceremonial grade matcha is made from tea leaves undergoing 20 days of shading prior to harvest. Furthermore, ceremonial grade matcha is produced using only leaves plucked during the first flush (first pick of the spring) after the plant has come out of dormancy. These leaves are the most vital and best tasting.
After the lesson, several participants got to try their hand at whisking up some matcha. Matcha is first sifted then traditionally whisked in a small bowl (chawan) using a bamboo whisk (chasen) and moderately hot water (about 170-180F degrees). A single serving was described as using about one gram of matcha and three ounces of water.
Various Grades of Matcha and Cut Tencha Leaf (far right)