Most people will be familiar with the green tea which you can find on the shelves of the supermarket, mostly in the shape of a bag or sometimes loose leaves. This green tea is mostly Chinese. Which isn’t so weird, since the origin of green tea lies in China. Yet there is more and more green tea from Japan available in The Netherlands nowadays. Time to find out more about this!
What is green tea?
The green tea is made of the young leaves of the Camellia Sinensis. The difference between naming the Chinese and Japanese green tea is in the way it’s dried. While the Chinese tea is dried in a pan, oven or the sun after picking, the Japanese green tea is steamed first after picking to fight the ageing process.
The colours of the leaves are also different: Chinese green tea is a golden yellowish colour and the leaves are rolled,while the Japanese green tea is golden green in colour and the leaves are in the shapes of needles or in powder.
Tea bag, loose tea or Matcha?
Aside from the options of tea in a bag or as loose leaves you can also choose the Matcha option. Matcha is a green tea in a powder shape, which you have to whip up with water until a green fluid with foam forms. The more foam the better, because this means more oxygen. The process of preparing this form of tea is mostly shown during the official Japanese tea ceremonies. The whipping up is done with a special whisk, named a chasen in Japanese, in a bowl (chawan) which you drink from afterwards. This might be accompanied with traditional Japanese candy named wagashi. In case you don’t have a Japanese whisk, you can also use a coffee spoon.
To make the Matcha powders involves covering the tea bushes with screens so the photosynthesis is slowed down. The plant will develop a lot of amino acids and chlorophyll (causes the green colour). After picking the young leaves will be laid out to dry, which causes the leaves the crumble. The next step is the grinding, which is done with millstones. This is a very slow process because the millstones can’t get too hot, because it would change the leaves.
Matcha is also perfectly suitable as an ingredient for other dishes, like yoghurt with fruits, pancakes, cake, smoothies and matcha (iced) latte.
How do you drink your Japanese green tea in the most delicious way?
The best way to make green tea is to leave the bag or loose leaves in water of about 70 or 80 degrees Celcius. This prevents you getting a bitter taste. It’s best to leave the water to cool off for a bit after boiling it before putting the green tea in there.
If you are using loose leaves of green tea you only have to use 2 grams for a mug, or 5 grams for a whole pot. Fill your filter with the loose leaves and hang it in your mug or pot. The tea will be finished after 2 to 4 minutes, so you can remove the filter. Don’t leave it in there longer, because it will cause your tea to turn (too) bitter.
With Matcha the intention is to whisk in an M or a W shape until there’s enough foam visible. For most Matcha lovers the foam layer is an absolute must, plus it is said to create extra flavour. It’s important to have a correct ratio of Matcha and water. You don’t want to have clumps in your tea, or have it too sticky. If you fill a cup with 70 or 80 ml of water you should have enough with 1 grams of Matcha to create the perfect cup with a foam layer.
A golden tip is to store the Matcha powder in the fridge, to extend its quality. The powder can age rapidly. If you do this it might be a good idea to sift the powder before you use it to whisk.