Background:

Matcha is a green tea, traditionally from Japan that is converted to a finely ground powder. The Japan Tea Central Public Interest Incorporated Association defines Matcha as follows: “Leaves are grown in the shade and dried without being rolled and ground into powder by an “Usu”, a stone mill or a ball mill”.

Thus, the uniqueness of Matcha is driven by these key production aspects:

  1. The tea bushes are protected from direct sunlight by shading the tea plants for a period of time prior to harvesting, which increases both chlorophyll and amino acid levels in the leaves, thus creating an intense green color and unique, smooth flavor.
  2. The finely plucked leaves are steamed and not rolled.
  3. Stems & veins from the tea leaves are removed after steaming.
  4. The resultant tea leaves are ground into a fine powder for liquid consumption or culinary use.

Proposed Definition:

Recognizing that transfer of production techniques globally now allow for non-traditional origins to produce a wide variety of teas, we are proposing a Matcha definition that producers may use to define Matcha produced outside of Japan.

In order for a tea to be called Matcha, the following must apply:

  1. The tea bushes must be shaded, in some fashion, for at least one week prior to harvesting.
  2. The harvested leaves must be steamed as soon as possible post harvesting. Pan Firing will not be considered a viable heating step.
  3. Stems and veins should be removed.
  4. Resulting finished product must be ground into a fine powder, similar in size to traditional Japanese Matcha.
  5. No tea grown outside of Japan may be called Ceremonial-Grade Matcha.
  6. The declared origin of the tea is the country in which the leaf was grown and produced.
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