We have established partnerships with 3 different producers across Japan and work with them to bring a unique Matcha collection to Australia.
By working with more than one supplier we came to understand that each producer excels at a particular blend or grade, and over the past 3 years we assessed and selected the best blends from each producer and put them together into a unique range of 6 different grades of Matcha.
We work with a well-known grower of high-grade Matcha in Uji, Kyoto, from whom we source our HANAE and YUKIRO Ceremonial Grade blends, an organic producer in Kagoshima who crafts our HARUNA and SHIZEN certified organic blends, and a skilled producer who creates our exceptional and cost-effective Culinary grade Matcha KOHIKI and TAISHIRO, from Uji as well.
All our blends have undergone a comprehensive quality assessment, and here are a few elements that we look for when assessing the quality of each Matcha blend that makes it to our store:
- Usage suitability
- Sustainability & safety
- Direct sourcing
Taste is our absolute priority.
We select blends with unique flavour characteristics that are most suitable for a particular use. For example, when selecting our Ceremonial Grade blends we look for very minimal astringency, upfront sweetness, overall smoothness and a good level of Umami, while in Culinary blends we look for robustness, strong fragrance and well-rounded bitterness much needed to cut through the flavour of other foods.
Colour is the second most important element of our quality assessment.
Most of the times colour and taste go hand in hand in defining the quality of a Matcha blend. Bright green colour usually comes from younger leaves and longer shading of the plants, which also means more sweetness and less astringency.
While we always prioritise taste, our final choice is always influenced by the visual appearance of each blend.
The freshness of Matcha is crucial for us. All our blends are ground in Japan monthly upon our request and air-freighted to Australia at the peak of their freshness. We manage our stock levels carefully and try avoiding over-stocking, so excuse us if any of our blends goes temporary out of stock.
Texture is next.
Different milling methods give different texture to a Matcha blend. Stone milling and Jet milling are the 2 most used milling processes in Japan. Modern machine technology has improved a lot in the last few years, allowing tea leaves to be milled into a fine powder with an average size of 15-30 micron per particle, but nothing beats the traditional good old stonemill and its ability to slowly refine raw tea leaves into a velvety powder that averages 4-10 micron of size per particle.
This difference does not really play a big role when Matcha is used for blended drinks or cooking, but it does make a huge difference when Matcha is whisked into traditional Usucha, making it nearly impossible for jet-milled Matcha to achieve the same level of froth and creamy texture of a stone-milled blend.
All our Ceremonial Grade Matcha are traditionally stone-ground, while our Culinary blends are Jet-milled.
5. USAGE SUITABILITY
Usage suitability is the process of defining the most suitable blend based on a wide variety of different Matcha usages. The most common being Koicha (thick tea), Usucha (thin tea), Cold Brew Matcha, Matcha Latte, Matcha Cocktails and all sorts of Matcha cakes and desserts.
Following our initial taste, colour and texture assessments we define how to bring the best out of each blend by using it according to their flavour characteristics.
6. SUSTAINABILITY & SAFETY
Sustainability and safety of consumption are at the bottom line of all our sourcing, and while we offer both organic and non-organic Matcha, nothing makes it to our store if it isn't grown responsibly and tested for radiations, residual pesticides, heavy metals and bacteria.
Please get in touch with us if you wish to receive any testing documentation.
7. DIRECT SOURCING
All our Matcha is sourced directly from tea farmers and tea processing manufacturers for full transparency on the origin of our blends and optimal freshness. We never rely on Matcha distributed by trading companies.
We also understand that producing a good product requires effort and time, so we believe that paying our producers the right price will allow them to keep focusing on the quality of their products.
HOW OUR MATCHA IS PRODUCED
Three weeks before the Spring harvest, reed screens are placed over the tea plants to cover them from direct sunlight to allow them to grow under the shade. This process is a crucial step. The lack of sunlight forces the plant to drastically increase the production of Chlorophyll while preserving high levels of L-Theanine.
In fact the natural process of photosynthesis is known to convert the L-Theanine present in the leaves into Catechins (EGCG Antioxidants). L-Theanine, as well as being a powerful and rare amino acid with relaxing and cognitive enhancing properties, is also the secret compound that gives to the leaves a unique mellow taste and intense Umami. Catechins, instead, give to the leaves increased bitterness and astringency.
Shaded tea equals to higher levels of L-Theanine, which translates into more complex and Umami-rich flavours in the leaves. Non-shaded or poorly-shaded tea equals to higher levels of Catechins, which translates into high astringency and bitter flavour within the leaves.
There are 2 methods used for shading the tea plants: one is known as "Tana" method and the other one is known as "Jikagise" method.
"Tana" method (left photo) consists of building a 2m height canopy-like structure over the whole desired section of the plantation, which is then covered with straw to stop the sunlight.
"Jikagise" method consists of covering directly the plants with a thick black blanket (right photo).
PICKING, STEAMING AND ROASTING
TENCHA - BLENDING & GRINDING
Finally, upon placement of our order, our Tencha leaves are stone ground using ancient grinding wheels to produce the super-fine iridescent-green powder that, after an intricate journey, we carefully store at -18C ready to be delivered to your home at their freshest state, hoping that you will appreciate the beckoning aroma and noble flavour of our Matcha. To explore and shop our full range of products please visit our store.