Macha is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves, traditionally consumed in East Asia. The green tea plants used for matcha are shade-grown for three to four weeks before harvest; the stems and veins are removed during processing. During shaded growth, the plant Camellia sinensis produces more theanine and caffeine. The powdered form of matcha is consumed differently from tea leaves or tea bags, as it is suspended in a liquid, typically water or milk.
The traditional Japanese tea ceremony centers on the preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha as hot tea, and embodies a meditative spirituality. In modern times, matcha is also used to flavor and dye foods, such as mochi and soba noodles, green tea ice cream, matcha lattes, and a variety of Japanese wagashi confectionery. Matcha used in ceremonies is referred to as ceremonial-grade, meaning that the powder is of a high enough quality to be used in the tea ceremony. Lower-quality matcha is referred to as culinary-grade, but no standard industry definition or requirements exist for matcha.
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