Matcha is a very special tea that comes along with its own traditions, preparations, and ceremonies which also means it requires extra special care and its own set of tools. The chashaku is a hand carved bamboo scoop that provides the perfect portion of matcha and is used to push the bright green matcha powder through a strainer into the chawan which is a wide mouthed bowl that the matcha is whisked inside, and the chasen is the hand-carved bamboo whisk.
Matcha (mo cha):
Matcha is shade-grown green Japanese Tencha tea that is ground down to powder, to put it simply. But isn’t it so much more than that? Yes, it is. The tea is grown in shade for around three weeks, which causes the plant to produce more sun-hungry chlorophyll, which then helps the plant to produce more theanine and caffeine. In turn this also produces more delicious, fresh vegetable flavors. The leaves are dried, then ground in heavy stone grinders, which are often hand carved. The powder is then suspended in water traditionally, but also often milk or dairy replacement. It also is often used for baking.
Matcha as we know it hadn’t been developed until the 12th century, but powdered teas were a staple from the Tang dynasty onward. It wasn’t until Zen Buddhists really began to enjoy and employ powdered green tea in their daily life and meditations that matcha really began to develop into the amazing product it is now.
In terms of health, think of matcha like it’s a green tea, only the health benefits are triple fold, as you are consuming the entire leaf and not just an infusion. Extra anti-oxidants, extra caffeine, extra flavor, what more could you want?