There’s no doubt about it: if you’re headed to Japan, you’re going to see matcha no matter where you go, all the way from Sapporo to Nagasaki. The Japanese and visitors alike chug the stuff by the kyusu full, which means there’s plenty of matcha opportunity for tourists. The obsession with matcha has led to a major spike in Japanese tea exports, with the country shipping out nearly 2,000 tons of green tea—a 4 percent increase—last year. But if you’re a major fan of this healthy and delicious green tea powder, you’re going to want to head to a few of the biggest matcha hotspots throughout the archipelago.
What Is Matcha?
Matcha is a finely ground powder made from green tea leaves (tencha). It’s traditionally consumed as hot tea, where it’s served suspended in water. Because it contains a high chlorophyll content, the green powder offers a full-bodied, vegetal taste with a bit of astringency and a creamy texture. It’s made from the leaves of the shade-grown Camellia sinesis plant. The absence of direct sunlight helps keep some of the natural health benefits of this plant potent as it grows.
Because matcha uses the whole leaf, it’s got more caffeine and a higher concentration of antioxidants, amino acids, and other nutrients than other types of teas. Indeed, this unassuming, green powder is jam-packed with nutrients, including high levels of antioxidants to help fight cancer, protect the liver, and even boost weight loss. Studies show that consuming matcha regularly can even boost brain function and protect against heart disease and stroke.