Travelling to Japan to source our matcha directly created a deep appreciation for the cultural and generational influence on this magical drink that has become so trendy today. It's important to us at Amoda that we don't lose sight of matcha's origins and the hard work that goes into producing each ounce for us.
Throughout Asian Heritage Month, we'll be sharing the origins of some of our main ingredients, starting with matcha. In part 1, we're sharing where our matcha comes from, and how individual craftsmanship, farming methods and harvest all work together to bring a nuanced cup of matcha.
My brother Terry and I have lived and travelled in more countries than I can count. Terry especially is a traveller in the truest sense - winging it 99% of the time. Knowing that, it's probably not a surprise that we showed up in Japan in 2017 with only two nights accommodation booked and zero meetings set up with potential matcha suppliers 😂
We had a few addresses, a tiny rental car, humility and a whole lot of determination. The "one" for us will be the supplier who appreciates our sense of adventure 🤷🏻♀️🤷🏻♂️. I would definitely not recommend this strategy, but it worked for us. We found the "one". Establishing that relationship in person, meeting the farmers and touring the farm and factory meant everything to me and helped me truly appreciate the knowledge and effort that goes into every gram of matcha.
As the demand for matcha grows, we're seeing more tea growing regions converting their harvest to tea plants for matcha production. It's going to take some time for them to catch up in terms of quality. For now, we choose to stick with the tried and true, small production from our partners in Uji, Japan.
🛫🌏 I'm counting the days until we can travel again. I'm curious to see what has changed in matcha production since demand has grown so significantly.
The company we work with in Japan is 171 years old! That's 171 years of perfecting matcha production. Generational knowledge makes a huge difference in the quality of the matcha you whisk up in your cup. There are subtleties and experience you can only learn by trial and error that get passed down through watching the generation before you work their magic. Let's break down a few of the components involved in matcha production.
There's a big difference between the matcha crafted for use in sweets vs. your daily matcha vs. a high end matcha. You can buy single-origin matcha, but for the most part, the tin of matcha you're enjoying is a blend originating from leaves plucked on different farms, in slightly or very different locations or even different regions of Japan. Potentially, the leaves are from different varieties of the tea plant as well.
All of the care that goes into the tea plants for months as they grow, comes down to 2-3 days, when the tea leaves are at their prime! Like any great craft, you taste the individuality brought by the person creating it and the artistry doesn't end at harvest.
Like any great craft, you taste the individuality brought by the person creating it and the artistry doesn't end at harvest. Traditional stone-grinding is an 800-year old method! There aren't too many people still alive today that have the skills to make the beautiful stone disks used to grind matcha. The majority of the matcha you drink is not stone ground in the traditional way. It's commonly misunderstood and used a lot for marketing purposes. Stone ground matcha is expensive! It takes a full hour to grind one tin of matcha using a stone mill.