Malcha vs. Powdered Green Tea

What is Malcha?

Malcha is the Korean pronunciation of the Hanja characters 抹茶 (matcha in Japanese, muocha in Chinese), directly translating to “powdered/ground down tea”.

How is “Malcha” different from “powdered green tea”?
The two are essentially the same – green tea leaves ground down to powder form.
All malcha is powdered green tea, BUT not all powdered green tea is malcha.

So what’s the difference?
Any type of green tea that is ground up can be qualified as “powdered green tea”. The green tea can be sun-grown, shade-grown, steamed, pan-fired, etc. As long as it is ground up into powder form, it can be called “powdered green tea”.

In order to qualify as “Malcha”, it MUST follow these rules:
(1) The green tea must be “연차” (yeoncha 碾茶 – “tencha” in Japanese). Yeoncha is made of tea leaves that are shade-grown (partially or fully), steamed and dried (some may roll or chop the leaves to make it easier to grind).
(2) The yeoncha must be ground to a fine powder with a stone mill.

Malcha will also foam well upon whisking. In Korean, we call this process of whisking and foaming malcha “격불” (khyuk-bool). In the photo above, one can see whisked malcha 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 (ceramic-ball milled, machine ground, etc.) are used to produce powdered green tea, the stone mill is what gets Malcha to this ultra-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 malcha 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.

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Teuksun Jaksul Cha (Sejak Grade)

Teuksun Jaksul Cha

Sejak grade green tea from Hankook Tea.

Jaksul Cha means “Sparrow’s Tongue”, indicating high-quality green tea in Korea.

Hand-harvested right before and after Ibha*, it is difficult not to appreciate the complexity of this tea. Teuksun still has the delicate and sweet flavor remnants of the first flush harvest leaves, which are interwoven beautifully with more mature, robust tones. These spring leaves are skillfully steamed and slightly pan-fired into perfection.

*Ibha  is 7th of the 24 seasonal divisions, falling on the 5th or 6th of May, according to the lunar calendar.

Gamnong Jaksul Cha (Sejak Grade)

Gamnong Jaksul Cha

Sejak grade green tea from Hankook Tea.

Gamnong, in Hanja, means “sweet harvest”, referring to the sweet flavor produced by the delicate leaves. These are the delicate leaves and buds at the tip of the tea plants, hand-harvested and processed with years of experience.

Jaksul Cha means “Sparrow’s Tongue”, indicating high-quality green tea in Korea.

Hand-harvested right before and after Gokwoo* season, Gamnong is the tea of choice by tea masters in Korea and abroad. Clear as morning dew, the first flush tea contains bright, crisp and pure flavor tones and the soft bouquet of a spring day right after a light shower. The depth and intensity of this tea is further enhanced by the lingering sweetness that remains.

 

 

*Gokwoo is the rainfall for seeding (the 6th of the 24 seasonal divisions according to the lunar calendar that fall on the 20th or 21st of April).

Gamnong Matcha (Powdered Green Tea)

Matcha (“malcha” in Korean) means powdered tea.
Though there are powdered forms of all types of tea (white, oolong, partially oxidized, black), matcha refers specifically to powdered green tea.

There is is no set rule, but the term “matcha” usually refers to high quality powdered green tea. Discerning quality comes down to two main factors – the grade of the tea leaf used and how well it foams when whisked.


Hankook Tea’s founder and CEO Yang Won Suh has received recognition by the Korean government as the 34th Grand Master of Traditional Korean Foods (or Myung-In) for his superior production of Matcha and Hwang Cha.

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Our Gamnong Matcha uses Sejak grade tea leaves (same grade as our Gamnong Jaksul Green Tea), grown at our Jangsung Tea Plantation. Part of this plantation is reserved specifically for our matcha.

The tea leaves shaded for a short period of time to produce a brighter color and slightly sweeter taste. The shading is only done for a short time in order to retain the “natural” green tea taste, as well as to retain higher levels of tannin and lower levels of caffeine.

Like a great latte, fine foam is an important part of matcha (see example in photo above: bowl on top, right shows whisked matcha topped with fine foam) In order to get great foam, technique and much practice is needed. But more importantly, the powder needs to be very fine. The best method found to date is by using a stone mill, which keeps all the nutrient intact while getting the leaves down to a soft, fine powder. Using a grinding machine is also common for powdered green tea (not matcha grade), but it cannot get the powder ground down as finely without destroying the nutrients or flavor of the tea leaf.

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Gamnong Matcha – 30g
Luxuriously smooth and slightly sweet in taste, the bright green liquor has a light grassy aroma.

Ujeon Gamro Jaksul Cha (Special Grade)

Ujeon Gamro Jaksul Cha

This is Hankook Tea’s special grade of green tea.

Ujeon, in Hanja, means “before rainfall”, indicating the time these leaves are harvested. They are the absolute first buds that shoot up with the start of spring. These delicate buds are hand-harvested and processed with years of experience.

Gamro, in Hanja, means “sweet dew”, indicating the taste and aroma of the tea. When steeped correctly, there is a delicate sweetness that is produced.

Jaksul Cha means “Sparrow’s Tongue”, indicating high-quality green tea in Korea.

Some categorize it to be a Sejak grade.
Others categorize it to be in a class of its own.
Harvested before Gokwoo* season in early spring, the first budding shoots of the year are meticulously hand-picked leaf by leaf to create this peerless tea. Steeps a bright, green liquor possessing a light sweet taste with delicate undertones of clean grassiness.

*Gokwoo is the rainfall for seeding (the 6th of the 24 seasonal divisions according to the lunar calendar that fall on the 20th or 21st of April).

Myung-In

“전통식품 명인 서양원인”
(Jeon-tohng-shik-poom Myung-in Seo-Yang-Won-een)

전통 (jeon-tohng) = traditional
식품 (shik-poom) = food products
명인 (myung-in) = master (person with excellent skills)
서양원 = Seo, Yang Won ((Founder & CEO of Hankook Tea)
인 (een) = mark/seal

Grand Master of Traditional Korean Foods

(명인 myung-in) is a distinguished title given to individuals in recognition of their extraordinary contributions in protecting and preserving the nation’s traditional agricultural methods, manufacturing processes and unique tastes of Korean culture. Since 1994, in effort to protect and preserve Korean food traditions, the South Korea Ministry of Agriculture has recognized individuals.

In 2008, Yang Won Seo (picture above and below), Founder and CEO of Hankook Tea Company, has been recognized as the 34th Grand Master of Traditional Korean Foods by the government for being a “master” at his craft, for his skillful technique in developing and crafting the artisan Hwang Cha (partially oxidized tea) and superior production of Matcha (powdered green tea).

Honam Tea Estates

Elegant Masterpieces of Natural Purity

Hankook Tea directly manages the operations and productions of Honam Tea Estates, creating a taste of integrity within each steep.

The location for our Honam Tea Estates have been carefully chosen for their ideal localities for producing the best teas grown in Korea. Before planting, each location had been examined for ideal temperatures, abundant rainfall, rich soil conditions and natural beauty. To ensure taste consistency in our teas, year after year, the tea estates are strategically distanced from each other throughout the province of Jeolla-namdo – Jangsung, Youngam and Haenam.

Upholding strict standards, Honam Tea Estates uses eco-friendly agricultural methods that are harmonious with its surrounding environment. Each tender leaf is allowed to grow at its natural pace, free from pesticides.