Skip to content

How to unlock umami from matcha

by Shikha Puri 30 Jul 2020 0 Comments

The nicest matcha is sweet and vegetal but balanced by a bit of bitterness and that hit of umami that is so characteristic of Japanese tea


Shuhei Hamada, the young managing director of Hamada Tea, looks a bit nonplussed, and opens a PowerPoint presentation instead. There’s a photograph of a farm that shows flatlands with straight lines of tea bushes, with wispy mountains in the backdrop. It’s beautiful, with not a leaf out of place. It is the Hamada farm that was started by Shuhei’s grandfather in the Kagoshima prefecture, an area second only to Shizuoka in tea production in Japan.

I am at a Japanese café in Bengaluru. Steeping before me is a lovely sencha, a nutty and toasty genmaicha, and that hard-to-dislike hōjicha...but it’s the matcha, and its widespread fame, I am curious about.


What makes the matcha special is how it’s grown and made. The tea bushes are covered with black sheets, or the “tana tarp", for anywhere between two-six weeks before plucking. This impacts the amount of light that hits the plant, which in turn triggers a different chemistry in the leaves; among other things, it gives the matcha that striking green colour.

At harvest—the choicest matcha is made in spring—the youngest leaves are plucked, steamed, dried, deveined and destemmed before being ground. Matcha refers to ground green tea and the leaves are traditionally ground in a stone mill to a baby-powder consistency.


There are two broad grades to the matcha: ceremonial and culinary. The ceremonial grade is preferred for drinking, and is more expensive and of finer quality. The culinary grade is less vibrant green, more astringent, less sweet...but works as an ingredient to create matcha-infused dishes. The best ceremonial matcha comes from the Uji or Shizuoka regions in Japan.

To make the matcha, you don’t need the ceremonial kit, although the matcha bowl (chawan), bamboo whisk (chasen) and spoon (chashaku) are available easily. Hamada starts his morning with a matcha made easily. Add some matcha and hot/cold water in a bottle, give it a nice shake to create a suspension, and it’s ready to drink.



Hamada Teas are available in Bengaluru at the Azuki Japan Travel Bistro and Sake. Japanese ceremonial grade matcha from Shizuoka is available at Midori from the Chota Tingrai Tea Estate, Assam, produces a culinary grade matcha made from Assam tea.

Tea Nanny is a weekly series steeped in the world of tea. Aravinda Anantharaman is a Bengaluru-based tea blogger and writer who reports on the tea industry.

To read the full story online in Mint Lounge


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

Thanks for subscribing!

This email has been registered!

Shop the look


Choose Options

Recently Viewed

Back In Stock Notification
Privacy policy

This privacy policy sets out how Tea Cups Full uses and protects any information that you give teacupsfull when you use this website. Teacupsfull is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide certain information by which you can be identified when using this website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement. Teacupsfull may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes. This policy is effective from 15th September 2015.

Read More

this is just a warning
Login Close
Shopping Cart
0 items