Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Hey teaheads! This is Don from Mei Leaf. In this video, everything that you need to know about Matcha. In this video I'm going to be talking about what Matcha is, what you should be looking for when PURCHASING Matcha, and why you should be drinking Matcha. This video is going to go into the "Basic Tea Education" playlist. If at any point in time you enjoy this video please give [it] the thumbs-up. The more thumbs in the air the more tea videos are going to come your way. If you haven't subscribed to our YouTube channel yet then go click that button. Okay. Matcha is all the rage at the moment. We've seen a MASSIVE rise in popularity in Matcha over the last few years, and I thought it was a good idea to finally make a video just to increase everybody's knowledge about Matcha, especially those people who are discovering it for the first time. So Matcha is a stone ground green tea traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies. What most people DON'T know is that this way of brewing tea is actually an ANCIENT way of brewing tea. Two thousand years ago they were brewing tea in this way in China, and this traditional way of brewing tea has persisted only in Japanese tea culture in the form of Matcha. But you can't just take any old green leaf, grind it into a powder and call it Matcha. It needs to go through a specific process. You start with good green tea varietals. Most Matcha out there is made with the Yabukita varietal, although you get very high quality Matcha made from the Okumidori, Samudori and Asahi varietals - but most of them are made with Yabukita. The area that it's grown is obviously of fundamental importance. Good green tea growing prefectures in Japan will produce the best Matcha. So Kyoto, Aichi, [and] Shizuoka will produce the best Matcha tea. The tea to make Matcha is normally picked in early to mid-May. About 20 days BEFORE they pick they start to shade the tea plants from the sun. They do this traditionally using reeds, and then piling straw on top of the reeds, but nowadays they use fabrics or black vinyl which they will cover over the leaves. Gradually, over the 20 days they will increase the amount of covering to increase the amount of shade so the plant is growing in increasingly low light conditions. What happens is the plant starts to freak out. [It] starts to produce high levels of chlorophyll, and also the theanine levels in the leaf remains high, because when you shade the leaf the theanine does not break down as quickly into other compounds like tannins. So you get high levels of theanine and chlorophyll, and that's really important when you talk about the health benefits of Matcha, which we'll talk about later. So they pick the leaf in mid-May - [a] really dark leaf full of theanine and chlorophyll - [and] steam it to stop the oxidation process, just like any other green tea. They steam it for15 to 20 seconds, and then they will dry the tea. At this point the tea is called Aracha. Aracha is like the midpoint process to make Matcha tea. They then take the Aracha and take away the central stem and veins. So they'll de-vein the leaf so you're just left with this lovely, supple, meaty part of the leaf. They will uniform the size of the leaf, and they will dry it again. At this point the tea leaf is called Tencha. Then the teamaster will come and taste the Tencha from different plantations, or different FIELDS in the same plantation, to get a flavor of the different qualities of the Tencha. Then the teamaster will make blends. They will blend the Tencha to get the right flavor profiles for the Matcha that they would like to produce. Once the blending process is finished they will then grind the Tencha into Matcha. They use round, stone mills with a central hole. The stone mills are grinding on each other, and the Tencha is slowly sent down the hole in the mill, and out comes micro-fine Matcha powder. It needs to be micro-fine - under 10 microns - and the process of the stone grinding needs to be at low temperature to make sure that you don't denature the nutrients, and don't effect the color and flavor of the Matcha. This grinding process is very slow. It takes about an hour to make about 30 grams of Matcha. So it's a very slow process. So that's the process to make Matcha. Now there are three general grades of Matcha. You're got your ceremonial grade at the top. Then you've got standard grade Matcha, and you've got cooking grade Matcha. So there are many different stages in the processing of Matcha, and if you take any shortcuts, or you don't have the right level of attention of detail in any of the different stages, you will produce lower grade Matcha. For example, the leaf is not shaded fully for 20 days, or the picking is the SECOND flush - not the first flush. That will affect the grade. How much attention to detail was put into the de-veining of the Aracha. If it has not been de-veined properly then the resulting tea will be courser, [and] it will have more of the ground veins and stems, and that will produce a lower grade Matcha. If they want to produce the tea at a faster rate then maybe they'll speed up the grinding process, or they won't use stone mills [but] will use other machines to grind the tea. Again, that will affect the grade. So cooking grade is the Matcha you're using for your Matcha ice creams, to dust over truffles, etcetera. Then you've got standard grade, which is just decent matcha made from Tencha. Then finally you've got ceremonial grade. In order for it to be ceremonial grade it needs to be shade grown for at least 15 days, be properly de-veined, stone ground at low temperature and at a very small particle to make a very nice micro-fine powder which makes a very smooth drink. You can also get things called green tea powder, and this is basically not Matcha, [is] usually made in China - but also sometimes also made in Japan - and it's just a very, very poor quality tea which is ground into powder. I would stay well away from any of that. When you are selecting your tea make sure you ask your tea supplier if the Matcha is radiation tested - or if the tea leaves that MAKE the Matcha [are] radiation tested. They should unequivocally, and very quickly say, "Yes. This is all radiation tested." With the crisis that happened in Fukishima you want to make sure, because you are consuming this leaf, that the Matcha - or the tea leaves - has been completely passed as radiation free. I would ALSO advise purchasing organic Matcha for the same reason. You are consuming the leaf, therefore you don't want to be consuming any potential fertilizers or pesticides that were sprayed on the plant. So organic is the way that I would go. I know that 10 years ago there weren't very high quality, organic Matchas out there, but nowadays there are. So I would stick with organic Matcha if at all possible. So the best way to judge Matcha - after you've asked all of those questions - is by eye. Here is a ceremonial grade Matcha, but it's a ceremonial grade Matcha from a supplier that we decided NOT to purchase from. I'm going to show you what that looks like. You can see [that] it's quite yellow. It's not particularly [a] vibrant, grren color. Let me show you a comparison with the ceremonial grade Matcha that we decided to purchase. So if I show you them side-by-side you will, I'm sure, notice a big difference in the color. So [a] nice, vibrant, dark green compared to a kind of khaki yellow color. These are BOTH meant to be ceremonial grade Matchas, but you can see visually how much higher quality this one is. So use your eye, [and] trust your eye on Matcha. You can certainly tell a lot about the quality. Also, make sure that once you've PURCHASED good Matcha that you store it properly. Thisis exactly the same Matcha as this, but this has been stored in a glass jar, so light has been able to affect this and there was a large amount of air in the jar. This Matcha was is stored in a light and airtight tin. So again, if you look at the color difference here between the same Matcha stored incorrectly you can see how it affects it. So Matcha is very reactive, and therefore you want to make sure you store it correctly. Also try to drink your Matcha the year that it was picked. So this was picked in May 2015. It's now January 2016, so come June-July 2016 we switch over and we go to the new harvest, because again, it's very reactive [and] will age quite quickly. So those are the markers for what you should be looking for when purchasing your Matcha. Let's talk a little bit about WHY you should be drinking Matcha. Because [with] Matcha you are consuming the whole leaf, you're getting 100% of the power of the leaf. You're getting 100% of the nutrients. When you brew any tea with water you get maybe 35 to 40 percent of the nutrients extracted into the liquid that you drink, but with Matcha, because you're consuming the leaf you're getting 100 percent. That means all the health benefits of ANY tea - specifically a green tea - is ramped up and supercharged. So antioxidant levels: if you compare Matcha antioxidant levels with a brewed green tea, a good quality brewed green tea and a shot of Matcha is about 10 to 20 times difference. So that means one shot of Matcha is the equivalent - in terms of antioxidants - as drinking 10 to 20 cups of a good quality green tea. There are some sellers out there that report 137 times the amount of antioxidants compared to green tea. What they're doing is using one study that compared Matcha with a Starbucks green tea, so it is a bit of an unfair comparison. If you compare it with a really good quality green tea and a Matcha it's about 10 to 20 times more antioxidants. Not just antioxidants. You've also got high levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin B, [and] all of the minerals that are in green tea that are very good for you. So, supercharged green tea. But then, remember, the amount of theanine in this powder is much, much higher than any other tea. Theanine is a remarkable amino acid. It contributes to the flavor of the tea, so it gives this, kind of, vegetal savoriness which turns to sweetness, which is so nice in tea. But it has incredible health benefits. Theanine only exists in tea, and in one species of mushroom - [and] I'm not even sure if that mushroom is edible. So if you want to be consuming theanine from foods you need to be drinking tea. Theanine is able to cross the blood-brain barrier. There aren't many compounds that can cross the blood-brain barrier, but theanine can, and so it directly affects your brain chemistry. What happens is it controls stress. It does this by increasing your GABA levels. GABA is a neurotransmitter which acts like a brake on your nervous system [to] help you relax and calm down. So it controls stress. The second thing it does is boosts - or improves - your mood. It does this by affecting your dopamine levels, so you get that feeling of well-being, calmness, and happiness. Thirdly, it improves your cognitive abilities. It makes you more aware [and] creative. It does this by stimulating alpha brainwave activities, radically. So if you look at people's brain scans after drinking theanine you get a HUGE, sudden [increase] in alpha brain wave activity. Lastly, it boosts your immune system. So [it] improves your ability to control stress, boosts your mood, improves cognitive function, and boosts your immune system. That's what theanine does, and theanine in Matcha is at its highest level. One thing you should be aware of - because again you're consuming the leaf - the caffeine level of Matcha is the highest compared to any other tea. So if you're caffeine sensitive then tread carefully, start with small amounts and see how you react. A lot of people use Matcha now as a kind of espresso, or coffee, replacement to give them that pick-me-up at the beginning of the day. Some people can handle it, [but] some people find that they can't metabolize caffeine as quickly and therefore are caffeine sensitive. So again, that's something for you to consider. Some people - including myself - find that if you drink Matcha on an empty stomach in the morning you feel slightly nauseous. A lot of people find that if you just keep drinking it over a few days that reaction goes away. My opinion is [to] just drink Matcha after you've eaten something. If you find that you are getting nauseous after drinking Matcha on an empty stomache, don't worry, it's nothing to be concerned about. Just make sure that you drink it after food. So that's something to be aware of. Okay. I think you've gotten a lot of information about Matcha. I'm going to be doing another video about how to make Matcha. So stay tuned for that. Other than that that's it teaheads. If you made it to the end of this video then please give the video the thumbs-up. Check out our playlists and let us know if there are any videos you'd like us to make. If you're ever in London, come and visit us in Camden to say "Hi!" and taste our wares. If you have any questions or comments then please fire them over. Other than that, I'm Don Mei from Mei Leaf. Thank you for being a part of the revelation of true tea. Stay away from the tea bags, keep drinking the good stuff, and spread the word, because nobody deserves bad tea. Bye.