If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult your healthcare professional before using this product.
Matcha. This Japanese green tea variety has become uber popular in recent times, its vibrant green hues splashed all over Instagram in the shape of matcha lattes, ice cream and raw treats. There is far more to Matcha than meets the eye, however.
BioBalance Certified Organic Japanese Matcha Powder comes from ‘Ise-cha’ green tea leaves carefully hand-grown on organic estates in the highland valleys of Japan. Their location overlooking the verdant Ise Bay inspired their name, and if that’s not enough, these delicate leaves have a history of over 800 years — quite mindboggling.
Our farmers in Japan are proud of the product they supply and when asked by us, they were super keen to share with us as much as they could, on their journey to becoming organic producers. They explained that they wanted to produce a pure, safe product, but that this does not come easy! A crop’s yield drastically decreases for several years after conversion to organic cultivation, plus they had to deal with the challenge of pest invasion. Added to the the fact that tea leaves can’t be washed, so meticulous attention was necessary. Good old trial and error ensued, the farmers’ belief in the power of nature endured — and so with time, beneficial insects like birds and ladybugs returned to the tea plantations. ‘You can feel the quiet, clean air and the birds singing when you visit the area,’ they explained. The work involved can only be described as a labour of love, as each plantation has essentially its own ecosystem as has been nurtured by these dedicated farmers. Their efforts have eventually born fruit and the tea yield has increased, having regained its power naturally.
It was great to be able to have this exchange with our farmers in Japan to hear about their journey to organic cultivation. Their message to us was simple: ‘We hope that people in New Zealand enjoy our organic matcha.’
The best Matcha is manually harvested, each May, before which from 20 days up to six weeks it is covered in vinyl sheets (it was straw once upon a time) rendering vast green fields entirely black, quite a sight from above. This ancient practice of blocking out the sunlight concentrates the levels of chlorophyll, a green antioxidant pigment which supports your body in eliminating heavy metals and chemicals. The practice of shading the leaves also concentrates the production of L-theanine — an amino acid which not only gives your brew its smooth ‘umami’ flavour. but supports concentration and focus and when combined with Matcha’s modest caffeine content, it may give you a feeling of alert calm.
*Umami, translated literally, is pleasant or delicious taste. It is also known in Japanese as the “fifth taste” alongside sweet, sour, bitter and salty. It is the full, complex, intense, full-bodied flavour profile found in matcha thanks to the high amino acid content.
The two leaves at the tip of each new shoot, i.e the greenest and most tender — are the only ones picked. They are steamed to preserve colour and nutrient density, then dried in large cages equipped with heated blowers. Once dry, they are graded, then the laborious and immensely time-consuming task of destemming and deveining happens. The leaves that make it through this rigorous process are called tencha, the quality of which varies widely. After a period of refrigeration, the leaves are ground into a very fine powder known as matcha, using large granite wheels that rotate gently and slowly to avoid scorching. To grind 30 grams takes over an hour, one of the reasons hand-milled matcha costs so much. It is this grinding process from which matcha — literally, “ground tea” gets its name.