Mat-cha Tea is a bright green powdered Japanese tea used in the Japanese tea ceremonies.
It does not taste like Westerner’s expect tea to taste like. It has a bitter taste.
It is made from leaves that have been shaded for 20 days, like gyokuro. The leaves are harvested, and then steamed, not fermented, and not rolled or crushed.
The veins and stems are removed from the leaves, then ground, steamed, dried, then ground into a powder the consistency of talcum powder.
It is a higher grade tea than sencha tea. Prices per kilo (2.25 pounds) range from $300 US to $1,000 US (2005 prices.) Because it’s so expensive, it’s generally sold in very small quantites, just enough for one or two tea ceremonies.
There is no clear definition of which Mat-cha is for what purpose, other than what the manufacturer labels it as. Any grade of Mat-cha can be used for usa-cha. If the leaves have come from trees that have come from bushes that are over 30 years old, then the tea is rated as a higher grade because it will be less bitter and can be used in sufficient quantities needed to make the thick tea drink called “koicha.”
In a tea ceremony, sometimes both tea drinks are served: koi-cha first and then usu-cha.
High caffeine content.
Sometimes usu-cha is called “thin tea”; koi-cha called “thick tea.”