Japanese Matcha Tea: A Matcha Made In Heaven

Japanese Matcha Tea: A Matcha Made In Heaven

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Japanese matcha tea
Picture: shige hattori / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
Japanese matcha tea is steeped in tradition, culture, and history. Here's how you can enjoy that tradition from the comfort of your own home!

Not so long ago, we covered different types of Japanese teas, Today, we revisit the theme, with a focus on the one that people probably know best – Japanese matcha tea. Read on to learn how to determine authentic, high-quality matcha from the fakes, and how you can recreate your own tea ceremony from the comfort of your own home, courtesy of Asagio Teas!

History of Japanese Matcha Tea

Almost everyone has heard of green tea. Japanese matcha tea is the powdered form of that. The Japanese word “matcha (抹茶)”literally translates to “ground tea” (where “ma (抹)” means “rub/grind”, and “cha (茶)” means “tea”).

Both regular green tea and matcha were introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks from China. Yet despite the tea’s origin and distribution throughout other countries of East Asia, matcha has remained a staple of Japanese culture until the present time.

However, matcha wasn’t always as widely available. This is because historically, in Japan, matcha was reserved for the Imperial family, religious classes, and people of nobility. In other words, if you weren’t an aristocrat or a monk, you were probably not going to have any matcha.

Japanese Matcha Tea in the Modern World

Luckily, thanks to evolution and the advancement of agricultural technologies, Japanese matcha tea has become widely available not only in Japan, but around the entire world. In fact, it has even become something of a trend in the west. 

Today, you can find matcha in just about anything, from lattes to Kit Kats, to even ice cream!  Matcha has become a popular addition to many famous treats and recipes, whether for its added health benefits or simply for the taste. Health-wise, matcha is touted for its antioxidants, immunity-boosting and cancer-fighting properties, and weight-loss benefits. 


However, with popular health trends come knock-off brands trying to make a quick buck by selling poor-quality products disguised as the real thing. How do you know if the matcha you’re buying is any good?

Choosing Quality Matcha Tea

What separates good quality matcha from the rest? It all comes down to production. Matcha cultivation requires special agricultural methods to produce the perfect tea leaves. Because of this, high-quality matcha can only be grown in specific regions that provide these perfect conditions. This is why matcha was so exclusive in the past. It was much harder and expensive to produce. 

Two of the top matcha-producing regions are Uji in Kyoto, which boasts a long history in quality matcha cultivation, and Nisho in Aichi Prefecture. When buying your matcha, check its location of production and do a little research.   

Direct sunlight also reduces the health-boosting properties and can damage the tea leaves. Not only must the plant grow in the shade, once harvested, it should also be stored in a dark area. Because of this, you also want to avoid matcha in weak or transparent packaging. The best matcha often comes in a can or a tightly sealed package that blocks sunlight.

Finally, one of the most popular ways to determine a tea’s quality – look at the color! High-quality Japanese matcha tea powder is usually a bright, vivid green. If it looks dull or closer to brown, chances are, it isn’t an exceptional quality.

How to Enjoy Traditional Japanese Matcha Tea

Now that you know how to pick a good tea, it’s time to drink it!

Lucky for us, matcha is no longer limited to formal occasions such as tea ceremonies and rituals. While you can certainly still experience a traditional tea ceremony in certain places in Japan (a worthwhile experience that I definitely recommend if you happen to visit!), you can easily enjoy the taste of traditional Japanese matcha in your own home!

There are many shops, both in Japan and abroad, where you can purchase the special preparation tools to hold your own tea ceremony. You can also find them online!

Tools for Preparing Traditional Japanese Matcha:

  • Chashaku (bamboo scoop)
  • Chawan (tea bowl)
  • Chasen (bamboo tea whisk)
  • Hot water
  • And of course, Japanese matcha tea!
  • (Optional: matcha-flavor sweets!)

The chawan, or tea bowl, is the ceramic dish you use to both prepare and drink your matcha. The chashaku is a small, curved spoon used to scoop the matcha powder into your chawan, and are usually made of bamboo. The chasen is the special bamboo whisk used to mix the tea, and also plays the biggest role in giving your tea its signature froth.

The Process:

  1. Scoop about 1 tsp (2g) of matcha powder with the chashaku into your chawan tea bowl. 
  2. Pour about 1/4 c (32g) hot water to the chawan (don’t let it boil, though)! 
  3. Whisk the tea with the chasen in a quick, M-shape motion until tea is frothy. 
  4. Enjoy!

Note: It is customary to enjoy Japanese sweets when drinking matcha. Adagio’s matcha-flavor tea cookies make a great pairing here!

A Matcha Made In Heaven

Whether you want to recreate a tea ceremony for your friends and family, or simply want to enjoy a delicious cup of fresh tea on your own, there’s a Japanese matcha tea for everybody! You don’t even have to go to Japan – you can find plenty of great, quality matcha tea online. 

Unseen Japan heartily recommends Adagio Teas for your matcha purchases. Not only do they offer traditional Japanese matcha tea powder, but you can also buy convenient and individually-wrapped matcha sticks. They also have some pretty unique flavored matcha, such as blueberry, peach, and mocha. Finally, if you want to try holding your own tea ceremony using all of the tools mentioned above… Adagio sells those, too!

So pick your favorite matcha flavor (or two, or three), grab your chawan, and unwind for the day with a fresh cup of Japanese matcha tea in the comfort of your own home!

Want more UJ? Get our FREE newsletter 

Need a preview? See our archives

Krys Suzuki

Krys is a Japanese-fluent, English native speaker currently based in the US. A former Tokyo English teacher, Krys now works full time as a J-to-E translator, writer, and artist, with a focus on subjects related to Japanese language and culture. JLPT Level N1. Shares info about Japanese language, culture, and the JLPT on Twitter (SunDogGen).

Japan in Translation

Subscribe to our free newsletter for a weekly digest of our best work across platforms (Web, Twitter, YouTube). Your support helps us spread the word about the Japan you don’t learn about in anime.

Want a preview? Read our archives

You’ll get one to two emails from us weekly. For more details, see our privacy policy