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A truly excellent tea can be as layered and complex as a fine wine, and with a bit of practice you can learn to discern the exact origin...
We’re all about the art of the roast – the delicate process of balancing the bean’s natural flavours, causing it to change in colour, taste...
Some people count sheep to get to sleep. With 100 different teas to choose from, we’ve found a much better solution. True, our collection is huge. But you can choose to track down your tea by taste, by origin and even by number.
In 1886 our founder Walter Whittard set up his very first shop, filled floor-to-ceiling with the world’s finest tea, coffee and cocoa. Those brave new brews are now time-honoured classics and we’re still following our nose for the new…
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It’s official – we now stock our very own high grade Japanese matcha. So what’s all the fuss about? Here’s the skinny on why everyone’s raving about the green tea power powder…
IT’S ALL IN THE LEAVES
Have you ever tried our gyokuro Japanese green tea? The leaves used to make matcha are processed in a similar way, by protecting the tea bushes with blankets to protect them from direct sunlight. This causes the leaves to grow slowly, prompting them to stock up on nutritious amino acids and green chlorophyll and allowing their flavour to develop. That’s why gyokuro and matcha are both so super-green and delicious.
The highest grades of green tea are harvested early in the year to avoid the coarse, bitter taste of lesser quality varieties. Once the leaves are picked they’re steamed to stop the oxidation process: gyokuro is made by rolling the leaves, matcha by laying them out flat until they crumble to form ‘tencha’. The best matcha teas are made by painstakingly removing the stalks and veins of the leaves to get the freshest, sweetest flavour, before grinding to a bright green powder.
WHY ALL THE HEALTH HYPE?
Most teas leaves are infused in water and then removed. The difference with matcha is that you consume the whole leaf – that way, you get all the goodness.
And, my goodness, there’s a lot of it. The process of shading the leaves results in a high content of the amino acid theanine, which is reputed to boost brain power and energy levels when combined with the natural caffeine in the leaves. Matcha is also high in antioxidants – particularly EGCG, which allegedly fortifies the cells and promotes a youthful complexion.
It’s worth mentioning that everyone absorbs nutrients differently, so the benefits vary from person to person. Here’s a tip though – it’s been proven that Vitamin C can help with the uptake of nutrients, so have a tangerine or a handful of pomegranate seeds when you drink your matcha and see how you feel.
Matcha is super-easy to make. We love it at breakfast with a glass of orange juice, and we’ve even been known to sprinkle the powder on our porridge. It’s also AMAZING with soy milk as a creamy matcha latte.
We always use a traditional Japanese bamboo spoon and whisk when making matcha, but you can also use a standard teaspoon and electric whisk. Bamboo’s just better though.
1. Add two bamboo scoops (1 slightly heaped teaspoon) of matcha to your mug or traditional tea bowl, and mix with a couple of drops of water to make a smooth paste.
2. Top up with water heated to 80°C (cool for five minutes after boiling). Alternatively, use warmed soya milk to create a creamy matcha latte. Only fill the mug or bowl to about ¾ full – otherwise the whisking could get a bit messy.
3. Whisk the liquid until a creamy froth forms on the surface. The tea should taste fresh and rich – slightly vegetal, but with a rounded sweetness.
And it doesn’t stop there. The powder offers endless possibilities. Juices, smoothies, Japanese-style sweets, green tea shortbread – and of course, the delights of the Japanese tea ceremony.
We’ll be back. For now, go and make yourself a matcha. It’s amazing.
Feeling the power? Tell us what you think of your matcha on social.
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