Matcha, the ceremonial green tea of Japan only used by about 1.5% of the Japanese people, is powdered Camellia sinensis, often of exquisite quality. As a ceremonial item, Matcha is considered a luxury tea in Japan, though it is booming in popularity in North America and in parts of Europe.
Good taste in Matcha is a skill developed over time, but it is not a universal given. Taste is subject to culture, zeitgeists and belief, more than it is a talent of the senses. To acquire good taste in Matcha green tea is to attain an attitude towards it informed by the history of its use. In understanding current Matcha use and trends, the more threads of Far Eastern medical history and the ideas that informed and wove it into creation we apprehend, the more integral and profound our understanding and taste becomes.
The same holds true for culture, politics and religion in Far East Asia as they all entwine fusing an ideological milieu that has supported Matcha use and the elaborations of the tea ceremony over millennia. The wide range of Matcha usage in North America today, from gourmet cuisine ingredient and Starbuck’s latte to green tea ice cream and meditation aid, reflects our American tendency to reinvent tradition and experiment.