In Part 1 we talked about the stunning farm. Now let’s jump into the process! What I have noticed is that the concept of Matcha is still lost to some. Many aren’t seeing the correlation between Matcha and Green Tea, I think maybe it’s because of its name. If we were being less creative we could simply call it green tea powder because in a way that is what it is. Matcha is Green Tea leaves grounded up into a powder. Sounds simple right? Well, while the concept is simple, the process to move from plant to powder is intricate. I would even call it an art. Let me explain, because I for one was so excited to see the entire process first hand!
Plant to Powder
As you may have guessed the first thing is planting and growing the tea. Remember I told you that EVERYTHING matters? Well it starts from the very soil. As previously mentioned, our supplier’s farm is located in a place which has the perfect geographical conditions for the tea plant to thrive. When it is close to the time for harvesting (about 6 or so weeks before) the plants are shaded. This shading is to build up on chlorophyll. This is c-r-i-t-i-c-a-l and it is from this very step that we separate the “sheep from the goat”. That bright green signature colour of our PetitPoppers is because of this step. When you buy Matcha it should be bright green. If it’s not, you are essentially wasting your money because there aren’t much if any nutrients in the powder. If your Matcha looks yellow or worst yet brown… I’ve got bad news for you. You are in for a very bitter surprise.
How exactly are these leaves harvested? Green tea leaves are harvested via two main ways. For commercial use, Matcha (the type used in mass production of sweets etc) a big chopper is used. The tops of the tea plant are chopped off and that is the signature curve you see on most tea farms. With this method stems, leaves and branches are collected all at once. It’s very quick with a high turnover. However, since there isn’t much control over the leaves that are picked (sometimes older more mature leaves are in the mix) it makes for a lower quality powder. This powder sometimes isn’t as vivid green and the Matcha may not be as smooth.
The other method is by picking the leaves by hand. Yes, by hand. Labourers take their baskets and walk through the farm picking the best and youngest leaves. These are the ones that are softest, bright green and are mostly found in the middle of the tea plant. It is a very labour intensive process and that is why very high quality Matcha tends to be on the more pricey side. This method is ideal for intensive quality control. These are the leaves that are chosen for Ceremonial Grade Matcha.
After the leaves are collected via both methods, they are transferred to the factory where they are further separated by quality. We will get into the details of the factory in our next release! Guys I hope by now you are getting a better understanding of what Matcha is. As you can see there aren’t any additives, ingredients or other substances. Matcha is pure Green Tea.