Most of the tea consumed by Westerners has traditionally been of the black sort. To create this kind of tea, freshly harvested tea leaves are allowed to age in the sun so that they oxidize and ferment slightly. Tea of this type has a relatively deep flavor and is probably appealing for this reason to those accustomed to drinking coffee and other relatively powerful beverages.
While black tea makes a healthful beverage and has other benefits, tea in its more natural forms is even better. Green tea is the least-adulterated version of the substance, being produced by carefully drying tea leaves while seeking to prevent the oxidation that produces the black version of the beverage. Green tea leaves thus typically contain even more of the flavonoids, anti-oxidants and other beneficial substances that make tea such a powerful health-reinforcing agent.
Even when it comes to green tea, though, there are different degrees of quality, freshness, and potency. Purveyors and consumers of teas in the Asian countries of China and Japan have established rankings and categories of these, each of which denotes a different quality of tea. The highest of all of these is the “matcha” grade which is used in the famous Japanese tea ceremony.
Only the most delicate leaves picked from the very top of the tea bush are eligible for inclusion in mixtures of this grade. After being sorted so that leaves displaying any signs of damage or malformation are discarded, the remaining leaves are then carefully, slowly dried in warm rooms away from direct sunlight. This delicate drying process ensures that the leaves will not suffer damage from heat or intense light and that the drying process can be stopped precisely when the correct level of moisture is attained.
The leaves are then ground very carefully in order to produce a fine powder but without damaging them through excessive force or transmission of heat. Many tea connoisseurs consider the resulting matcha tea powder to be of the finest kind available, as only the best tea leaves have been used, and they have been processed in a way designed to ensure this quality is retained in the final product. Those looking to buy matcha green tea, then, are in the market for the best possible ingredients and know that they will be getting the most in terms of flavor and health benefits that tea can offer.