Matcha is used for a drink and also for a snack. It is so popular not only in Japan but also abroad. This article guides you through the wide use of Matcha, from tea ceremony to dessert, and its material Tencha.
What are Matcha and Tencha?
Even if you know Matcha, you may not know about Tencha. Tencha is a tea to make Matcha and not usually sold in the market. As with Gyokuro, Tencha undergoes cover culture for about 20 days, which lends a green-laver-like distinctive aroma and a mild, rich flavor to the tea. It is often confused with another Tencha of Chinese tea, but they are completely different teas.
Matcha is a finely ground Tencha. It is also used for tea ceremony. It is in 1783 when Sencha (steeped green tea), which is commonly consumed by Japanese people, was invented. Before then, tea exclusively referred to Matcha. In addition to the original use of drinking, there is an increased demand for other uses such as making snacks nowadays. Tencha does not need to be covered to make the Matcha for food processing.
Features of Matcha and Tencha
Matcha is the finely ground particles of Tencha and so susceptible to humidity, temperature, and light that it needs to be treated gently. Its drinking manners are different from other green teas. There are very few opportunities to see Tencha because it seldom comes on the market, but it looks very much like green laver. Its original cultivation method requires cover culture as a rule, but the covering process can be skipped to make the material of snacks.
Features of Matcha ingredients and Tencha ingredients
The ingredients of Matcha are mostly similar to Gyokuro. However, by swallowing the whole leaves that are finely ground, you can consume even the ingredients that usually remain in the leaves and are hard to take in when you brew the leaves of normal tea such as Sencha. It is called “Superfood” both domestically and internationally nowadays because you can take in a great deal of fat-soluble vitamins, catechins, and other ingredients that are good for health and beauty.
Features of Matcha process and Tencha process
Tencha is produced through cover culture as a rule. The tea farm is covered to avoid sunlight before about 20 days prior to plucking so that the leaves grow gradually. In this way, with less bitter and astringent flavors, the tea gains a lot of sweetness and umami. The manufacturing method does not have the process of rolling (i.e. kneading leaves). It just dries the leaves. Sencha’s cultivation process can be applied to Tencha if it is to be processed into snacks.
Productions areas of Matcha and Tencha
Matcha and Tencha are produced across the country. Let us focus on famous areas here.
Kyoto boasts the largest production volume of Tencha. Above all, Hamacha from Kozuya, Joyo City won the first prize of the Tencha section at the National Fair of Tea, 2017. Its landscape of tea farms is declared as a Japanese Heritage site. It is said that the cultivation method of Tencha, “cover culture,” was developed in Kyoto.
Especially Nishio City in Ehime Prefecture has a suitable environment for Tencha cultivation with a rich soil mixed with sand, good humidity, etc. They have been growing Tencha for a long time. In Nishio City, many farmers take time and effort to hand-pluck fresh buds. Tea farms of approximately 150 hectares are growing high-quality Tencha.
How to drink Matcha and Tencha
To drink Matcha, the tea is made with a tea whisk. A freshly-made tea is the best. Drink it up while it is warm.