Matcha is a powdered tea, traditionally prepared with a whisk like the one shown here. Matcha, however, is not just powdered gyokuro. To produce matcha, the same leaves used to produce gyokuro are dried by a different process, producing a type of tea called Tencha. Matcha is then produced by removing the stems and leaf veins of the tencha, and grinding the remainder of the leaf to a fine powder. The intermediate step, tencha, is not widely available outside of Japan.
To prepare matcha, the powder is added directly to water and, unlike most other teas, is not filtered out. The powder can be filtered through a sieve before adding it to water, to break up clumps. The traditional method of brewing matcha involves mixing it with a bamboo whisk in a bowl. Brewed matcha has an opaque, bright-green color and strong flavor. Although the flavor of matcha closely resembles other green teas in many ways, the opacity and consistency of the brewed tea is unlike any other.
Traditionally-prepared matcha tends to be a bit foamy, with many bubbles. Because of its finely-powdered form, matcha is easily added to desserts, baked goods, and other foods in order to impart a strong green tea flavor. Because matcha is so expensive, companies sell special cooking grade matcha or kitchen grade matcha, such as our "Universal Culinary Matcha" tea for the purpose of adding to desserts or other foods. This matcha is usually more astringent than the matcha intended for drinking.
The finely-powdered state of matcha makes it lose its aroma quickly; once opened, it does not stay fresh as long as most green teas. Matcha is also sometimes added or blended into green teas, including those available in teabags. Matcha is often blended with genmaicha, resulting in a blend called Matcha-iri genmaicha.
High quality matcha is typically made in Japan, although some other lower grade matcha is also made in other regions as well.