Be wary of very cheap Matcha! Because it may not actually be Matcha!
Matcha is produced by blocking the direct sunlight, covering the Genuine Matcha is produced by blocking direct sunlight, the tencha (steamed and dried tea leaves) is covered with special shades called yoshizu (reed screen) and wara (hay). The tencha, without being kneaded, is then dried and ground with a handmill.
This process ensures that the Matcha retains an abundance of amino acids, which gives it a rich flavor. Tea itself has effects of preventing sleepiness and also has diuretic effects, but since Matcha is made from grinding the tea leaves, you can get all the nutrients from it. Tea produced by boiling the leaves loses nutrients during this process.
Similarly, gyokuro is produced by blocking the leaves from direct sunlight, but it is then kneaded like typical (boiled) green tea. By looking at the production process, you can see how much work goes into producing Matcha.
The expensive Matcha is made from leaves picked by the hand rather than by a machine, which ensures that only the best quality leaves are used. This lengthy process ensures that you can enjoy the special taste that you can only get from real Matcha.
What about the cheap Matcha on the market?
Are these also produced through a similarly lengthy process? One cannot say for sure, among many cheap products that are called “Matcha”, there are ones that are made simply by grinding poor quality green tea leaves into powder.
You cannot expect to get high concentrations of amino acid from this process – which is one of the qualities unique to Matcha. If they were produced through the genuine arduous process, it would be virtually impossible to grow it in Japan and sell it for such a cheap price.
Is it possible, then, for Matcha produced properly outside of Japan to be sold at such a cheap price? It is possible to save money through reduced labor costs and the vastness of available land. However, Matcha is something you actually ingest, so safety and quality should not be sacrificed for a lower price.
The safety standards of food products differ from country to country, but in Japan the food safety standards are defined by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to the JAS Standard. For organic food products, a third party organization inspects the produce to ensure that its production meets the “Organic JAS Standard”. Companies that pass the inspection are permitted to use the “Organic JAS Mark”.
Specifically, the standards for organic agricultural production requires soil conditioning through compost, to completely avoid the use of chemically synthesized fertilizers and pesticides, and prohibits the use of genetic modification.
Japan shares its authentication of organic products with the EU, Switzerland, the United States, and Canada as well as other countries, who accept each other’s standards as equal, regarding organic agricultural products and processed foods from organic agricultural products.
So why don't you buy Uji Matcha directly from Kyoto?
The organic Matcha of Kyoto Matcha Direct is made from leaves produced naturally without using any pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The production is done with utmost care at a factory in Kyoto, which has protected its 300 year-old history and tradition of tea-making and has been authorized for Organic JAS Standard of ISO-90001.
By using Kyoto’s famous Uji tea leaves and making it in a Kyoto factory, we offer true Kyoto Matcha that is fresh and safe for all to enjoy. If you are seeking authenticity, you are sure to appreciate the elegant taste and the scent of our organic Matcha.