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How our matcha is made

There are so many matcha brands out there. How do we know which are any good? It starts with the supply chain. The matcha cannot be very good unless the tea leaves used to make it are tasty. The tea leaves will not be tasty unless the growers that tend to them are skilled. The skills of the grower are irrelevant if the soil is poor. These are just some things we take into consideration when curating matcha and creating blends.

A patchwork of small tea estates​

The tea plants shown here will be grown under the shade for 4-6 weeks before harvest. This process starves the plant of sunlight, and forces its roots to work overtime in drawing nutrients from the ground. The result is a more complex amino acid profile, giving finished its matcha is wonderfully complex flavors.

In Kyoto, many tea gardens are held by individual landowners and are actually only a few hectares in size. Most farmers sell the tea leaves, and usually do not own any equipment to process tea leaves into matcha. The processing is often left to larger corporations.

The hard work of harvesting

Whether it is by hand or by machine, harvesting tea is hard work. work. These plucked tea leaves will then be transported to a processing plant where it will become tencha.

For many small plot farmers, the harvest season is extremely busy. Agricultural labor is in short supply in Japan, and elderly farmers often call upon their grown children to temporarily come back from the cities to lend a hand. The harvest is then sold to a tea production company.

Journey from tea leaf to tencha

The tea leaves are then sorted, sifted, steamed, dried and cut repeatedly before they become tencha. Tencha is the precursor of matcha. Tea blenders perform taste tests on the tencha to direct the ratios for each distinct matcha blend. Tencha can be stored for a long time in freezers, and then ground into matcha when it is ordered.

The tea processing plants are a serious capital investment, and most tea estates are too small to afford one. Regional tea cooperatives usually pool funds together to set up a cooperative processing facility.

Finally, we have matcha

When we need to replenish stocks, we instruct the processing plant to remove the tencha for grinding. The ground matcha powder is then filled into packets and sealed. This process allows the freshness of the matcha to keep for about a year after grinding without compromising its taste and flavor.

Large refrigerated storage facilities are costly to build and maintain. This is another reason why matcha tends to be expensive. Heat control is important during milling. Higher heat will damage the matcha and affect the taste.

Where our matcha comes from

Uji, Kyoto

The home of matcha production in Japan for hundreds of years. Uji tea is associated with high quality. Many tea estates are built into the mountains and hillsides and fringed by rivers and lakes.

Kirishima, Kagoshima

The breadbasket of Japan tanks to its fertile, volcanic soil. A fast-growing tea region that pioneered organic tea farming in Japan.

yame, fukuoka

Located in southern Japan with a mild climate. Traditionally known as a gyokuro tea producing region, now starting to produce high quality matcha.

Chiran, Kagoshima

A peninsula on the other side of Kagoshima featuring the same rich, volcanic soil. Previously focusing on cheap, bulk tea, now home to innovative growers producing very interesting blends of matcha.