What is Matcha?
Powdered form of the green tea leaf (camellia sinensis).
So what’s the difference between “Matcha” and “powdered green tea”?
The two are essentially the same – green tea leaves ground down to powder form.
So what’s the a difference?
While there is no rule that is set in stone, most follow these “guidelines” when it comes to calling a product “Matcha” or “powdered green tea”.
In order to be qualified as high grade Matcha, it must foam well upon whisking. In Korean, we call this process of whisking matcha “격불” (khyuk-bool). In the photo below, one can see whisked matcha in the bowl on the top right (right of the bowl with the tin canister).
In order to produce such fine foam, two things are necessary: fine powder and technique. The latter is a skill that must be honed over time, through practice and experience.
The finest powder comes from tea leaves that are ground down slowly using a stone mill. While other methods have been tried (machine grinding, etc.), the stone mill is what gets the powder to its fine state without destroying the essence or health benefits of the leaves. This is also the factor that limits the quantity that can be produced in a certain amount of time, making fine matcha such a high-priced commodity.
Like a great cup of latte, the smoothness and fineness of the foam at top can make all the difference.