Matcha is a powdered green tea from Japan. This is not to be confused with Mate or Macca from South America, which is a mistake many people often make. Though Mate and Macca can be used to make tea, it does not come from the Camellia Sinensis plant that traditional teas (such as white tea, green tea, oolong tea, and black tea) come from.
There are two main Matcha producing regions in Japan: Uji, located in the Kyoto Prefecture, and Nishio, located in the Aichi Prefecture. Though many people may be more familiar with Uji for Kyoto’s rich history, Nishio is a lesser known rural city found at the heart of central Japan. Because of its rural location, the tea growing regions in Nishio are adorned with pristine rivers and clean air from the lack of urbanization. This, in turn, helps create an ideal environment to cultivate tea.
Though it is not uncommon to see Matcha from another region in Japan, one should be cautious, for the quality of the Matcha may not follow the same standards as those of Uji and Nishio farmers. For example, Matcha from Shizuoka may not have as high of a quality as Matcha from Uji/Nishio because Shizuoka is more known for its Sencha tea. More often than not, there are also Matcha teas from China, Taiwan, or other countries on the market. One should be even more wary of Matcha from other countries, since the highest quality Matcha can only be grown in Japan.
Not only are there misconceptions about where Matcha comes from, but there are also misconceptions about what Matcha is. Though Matcha technically translates into “grounded tea,” there is a distinct difference between Matcha and other powdered teas. What makes Matcha different from any other powdered tea is its unique cultivation and manufacturing processes. For more on its distinctive cultivation methods, visit our previous post: From Seed to Scoop: How Matcha is Made.