How is Matcha made? What is Tencha?

Matcha green tea is made from Tencha, which are tea leaves that have gone through several processing steps after which they ground into fine matcha powder. Find out how tencha and matcha are produced.

Matcha is made from Tencha, which are tea leaves that have gone through several processing steps after which they are ground into fine matcha green tea powder.Tencha is the name given to tea leaves which have gone through a series of processes to make them ready to be ground into the fine matcha powder.

All types of teas come from the same plant called camellia sinensis. While the cultivars may vary between plantations and countries, the plant essentially is the same. In this blog, we outline how the leaves from the tea plants are converted into Tencha and then into Matcha.

From Tea Leaves to Tencha to Matcha

Growing tea plants in shade

To make Tencha, the plants are grown in shade for at least 20 days prior to harvesting. This increases the chlorophyll and L-theanine content in the leaves, which gives matcha it’s bright green colour, subtle earthy taste, and high nutritional value. The properties of the leaves also vary depending on use of chemical versus organic fertilisers and growing practices. For example, if synthetic fertilisers are used, the plants grow quicker than natural process and the leaves may have slightly sweeter taste compared to naturally grown leaves.

Harvesting

After 20-30 days in shade, the leaves are harvested i.e. picked from the branches. The age and size of the leaves make a difference in the product’s taste and quality. So does the season in which they are harvested. Tea plant leaves are harvested many times in a year and depending on the weather and season, the properties vary. Harvesting is done either using machines (large plantations) or hand-picked. Ceremonial grade matcha is made from young and supple leaves from the first harvest in Spring. The grade of matcha depends on the age of leaves and the season in which the leaves are harvested.

Steaming

As soon as the tea leaves are harvested, they start getting oxidised due to the reaction of the enzymes with atmosphere. Hence they are steamed almost immediately to prevent oxidisation.

Drying

The steamed leaves are then dried by either normal air blowing or hot wind from ovens, as leaves travel through conveyor belts. This can make a difference in the product. Normal air drying takes more time compared of hot wind from ovens and is less damaging to the nutrients and natural flavours. (To make Tencha, leaves are not kneaded before drying, while to make Sencha or Gyokuro tea, the leaves are kneaded. Hence Tencha has about half the weight as compared to Sencha for the same volume).

The above steps are collectively known as Aracha process in Japan.

Separating stems and veins from leaves

Once the leaves are dried, they crumble naturally and start separating from stems. Slow blowing is used to separate leaves from the stems completely, specifically for ceremonial grade matcha. Culinary grade matcha may have both leaves and veins.

THE LEAVES ARE NOW CALLED TENCHA AND ARE READY FOR GROUNDING INTO MATCHA POWDER.

Grounding the leaves

Tencha leaves are usually ground using stone mills into a very fine powder with a particle size of 2-20 microns. This is what is called matcha. Due to matcha being such a fine powder, it is dissolved in water or liquid and consumed as a whole.

Matcha powder
Matcha Powder

Buy our premium quality matcha products. Check out ‘Matcha, Honey, Lemon’ recipe or ‘Matcha Latte’ recipe to make matcha part of your daily healthy lifestyle. Get more inspiration from our matcha gallery.

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