10/09/2021

Uji Matcha: Treating Yourself to the Best

Matcha (抹茶), an essential component of Japanese traditional tea ceremonies, is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. Uji Matcha, a high-grade Matcha, is the most known of its kind, named Uji after the area it was cultivated, harvested, and prepared from. Learn all about it and where to try it. 


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction to Matcha and Uji-cha
  2. Learn About Uji Matcha
  3. Enjoying Matcha in Uji, Kyoto
  4. Summary

Introduction to Matcha and Uji-cha

Matcha has been gaining popularity all over the world with various snacks and sweets being made in matcha flavour. This article focuses on Uji Matcha - where it came from, what it is, and why is it so important? 

History of Uji-cha in Japan

Uji-cha refers to tea cultivated in Uji, Kyoto. There are altogether 3 categories of Uji-cha: Sencha, Matcha, and Gyokuro. 

It is believed that the origins of Uji-cha can be traced back to the 13th century when travelling monks from China taught the art of cultivating tea to the Uji residents. Uji-cha became the most popular tea in Japan enjoyed by all including the Shogun. History was then made when Uji tea leaves were used to make the first Matcha in Japan

Till now, Uji-cha continues to be the most consumed tea in Japan. Not to mention, Uji has one of the largest green tea plantations in the world

※ Google Arts & Culture - Kyoto Prefecture, "A Walk Through the 800-year History of Japanese Tea"

Differences Between Sencha, Matcha, and Gyokuro

A cup of green tea and green tea leaves

When people mention green tea, they usually mean Sencha (煎茶). Here’s a simple breakdown of the other types of Uji-cha.

 

Sencha

Gyokuro

Matcha

Appearance

Rolled Tea Leaves

- Rolled Tea Leaves

- Darker Green than Sencha 

Powder

Taste

Refreshing, sweet, light astringency

Mild sweetness, deep strong flavour

Fresh and bitter

Caffeine

Low 

High 

High

Health Benefits

Healthy

Healthy

Healthiest because the tea leaves are consumed

Learn About Uji Matcha

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s go in-depth into Uji Matcha.

Uji Matcha Cultivation and Manufacturing

Uji matcha tea fields

Making matcha is a delicate and lengthy process involving first cultivating high grade tea plants and selecting the tea leaves before production can begin. Once the select tea leaves sprouts have been obtained, they will be steamed, dried, cut up, blown, sorted, dried, filtered, and finally grounded into powder. 

For more of the process in detail, check the link below. 

※ Uji-cha, “How Tea is Made

Grades of Matcha

There are two main grades of matcha; ceremonial and culinary. Their differences are self-explanatory with ceremonial grade matcha used for Japanese tea ceremonies. This involves mixing the matcha powder and water with a whisk until it is thick and foamy. The culinary grade which consists of 5 other levels within is primarily used in cooking.  

Uji Matcha-flavored Foods and Drinks

A bowl of matcha kakigori with red bean topping

You can find Matcha or Uji Matcha flavored foods and drinks all over Japan. Here are some to watch out for:

Pocky 

The beloved chocolate biscuit stick snack is available in Matcha and also Uji Matcha flavours. 

Matcha Parfait

Similar to ice cream sundaes are Japanese parfaits filled with ice cream, whipped cream, and toppings of choice. Matcha parfaits consist of matcha ice cream, and common toppings include shiratama (white dango balls), azuki (red bean), and cornflakes. 

Recommendations for places to go? Try Nana’s Green Tea or Tsujiri

Uji Matcha Ice Cream

Matcha soft serve ice cream cone

Both Matcha and Uji Matcha ice cream are easily found in supermarkets and konbini. 

Recommendations for places to go? Try Nanaya.

Matcha Latte

A cup of matcha latte with heart design

A drink with a 1:1 ratio of Matcha and milk, you can even make this yourself at home with the right ingredients. Also available in supermarkets, konbini, and if you’re feeling a little fancy, Starbucks. 

MatchaChocolate

Chocolate and matcha? Sign us up! You’ll be surprised how good this unique treat is. 

Enjoying Matcha in Uji, Kyoto

Matcha with traditional Japanese sweets

Planning a trip to the homeland of Uji Matcha? Here are some places to eat with Matcha in mind. 

Gochio Cafe

Just 3-mins walk from JR Uji Station is GOCHIO cafe. The concept of their menu is Matcha with plenty of desserts, cakes, pastries, food, and drinks all in Matcha flavour. 

Tsuji Rihei Honten

Tsuji Rihei Honten is one of the oldest tea plantations in Uji. It was established back in the early 1840s where they took great care in manually selecting and producing the finest green tea in the Uji region. Now, they have a teahouse that specializes in everything matcha without compromising its quality.

Ito-Kyuemon

Ito-Kyuemon is known for serving the best matcha tea drinks and delicacies in the Uji Region! They offer Uji Matcha, Uji Gyokuro, and Uji Sencha, as well as a variety of matcha pastries for you to choose from.

Nakamura Tokichi

Nakamura Tokichi offers a treat for tourists because not only can you taste the best matcha there is, you can also witness and take part in a Japanese tea ceremony!

Summary

Uji during spring time with sakura

Matcha has such a unique taste. Everyone who has heard of matcha automatically thinks about Japan - and rightfully so! The article above summarizes the history of matcha in Japan and how Uji as an area helps produce matcha not just for the rest of the country but internationally as well. This article will also help you get to know more about the different Japanese matcha treats and well-known matcha cafes in the Uji Region so you can plan your next trip to Japan!

Whilst you are in Uji, why not take the opportunity to explore the area as well! Our Uji Article is sure to come in handy! 

Not Only About Matcha: A guide of Uji, Kyoto

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