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Introduction to matcha and the traditions of the Japanese tea ceremony

February 13, 2024
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Introduction to matcha and the traditions of the Japanese tea ceremony

What is matcha?

Matcha means ‘green tea’ in Japanese and is powdered green tea leaves, where you consume the whole leaf. Matcha is made from tea leaves where the bushes have been covered for four weeks, so they don’t get sun, before the smalleste top leaves are picked. This means that it is the newest and finest small leaves that are completely soft and full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals that are picked.

There are two processes to make the fresh tea leaves into matcha. The first process is to steam the tea leaves, then they must be dried so that they become ‘tencha’ leaves. The next process is to pulverize the ‘tencha’ into matcha, which is done on stone mills.

What is a ‘ceremonial matcha’?

Matcha is very important to the Japanese, as it is used in their fantastic and beautiful tea ceremony throughout centuries, and which they call ‘the heart of Japanese culture’. Ceremonial matcha is the highest and best quality matcha, but even within ceremonial matcha there are also different quality differences.

Emeyu has chosen the best quality, an organic ‘ceremonial matcha’, which is also used in the most formal tea ceremony.

What kinds of matcha are used in tea ceremony?

There are a few different kinds of matcha grades, and they fall into a few main groups:

‘Ceremonial matcha’

Ceremonial matcha is the highest grade of matcha. However, ceremonial matcha can also come in different qualities. The quality can depend on what time of year the leaves are picked, for how long the leaves have been covered, whether they are blends from different tea plantations, and what flavor you want to bring out. The highest quality ceremonial matcha is used for the most formal tea ceremony and is plucked in the spring after covering for 4 weeks and is the matcha Emeyu has selected.

‘Cooking matcha/culinary matcha/cooking matcha’

‘Cooking matcha’ is a lower grade of matcha, which may come from bushes that have not been covered for nearly as long, picked in the summer and/or autumn, and may also come from countries other than Japan. These matcha’s are usually more bitter in taste, have less umami, and the taste and smell of fish can occur. They are usually used in smoothies and food. The price will also be cheaper on this type of matcha.

Ceremonial matcha and the history of the tea ceremony

Ceremonial matcha has been the focal point of the Japanese tea ceremony, which started in the 16th century by the Buddhist ‘Sen no Rikyu’ and is called ‘the heart of Japanese culture’. Today there are various schools in Japan that teach tea ceremony and how to properly serve guests. Their teaching and tea ceremony may be slightly different from each other. These educations can take up to 3-5 years.

The tradition and rituals of the tea ceremony

In the tea ceremony, it is about honoring and doing the best you can for the guest, so that they feel appreciated and welcome. This is done by showing modesty, showing humility, purity and respect for the guest as well as the tradition around tea to bring harmony, calmness and simplicity into life. Tea ceremony is not a luxury, but the tea house, which is often a room in the house, is decorated in a certain way, and everything is thought through to the smallest movement, choice of clothes, the act, cups, colors, flowers, decorations, cake and has just been selected for this special ceremony.

Emeyu’s ceramic matcha bowls are handmade in Denmark according to Japanese custom and tradition so that you can make your own ceremony into a delicious, mild, healthy and tasty cup of matcha as your own ritual. The matcha cup and matcha utensils can be purchased in the webshop.


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