Why Our Uji Matcha Latte is a Matcha Made in Heaven!
Whether it’s in cookies, smoothies, mochi or a traditional latte, Uji Matcha has taken the world by storm.
Of all the different kinds of matcha produced in Japan, Uji Matcha is arguably considered the finest available. And at Baroness Bubble Tea, our customers deserve nothing but the best, so it’s no secret why we use it in our delicious signature Uji-Matcha Latte.
Typically, it is characterized by region. However, by definition, specific criteria need to be met for a tea to be classified as authentic matcha.
Today, we’ll be taking a fascinating deep dive into the history of Uji matcha, including where it comes from, how it’s made, and what classifies as authentic matcha. We’ll also highlight what makes Uji matcha so special and why we use it in one of our signature bubble tea flavors!
So, without further delay, let’s get started!
What is Uji Matcha?
Before diving into what Uji matcha is, let us first outline what regular tea matcha is!
Matcha is a finely ground powder made of Japanese green tea leaves. The last part of that description is especially crucial.
To be considered authentic quality matcha, the tea must have been grown and processed exclusively in Japan.
The tea must also be made only using tencha tea leaves. These green tea leaves are unique because they utilize a specific growing technique to bring out their unique qualities!
To make quality matcha, cultivators must cover the green tea plants for over 20 days, so they are entirely in the shade before picking them.
The lack of direct sunlight stimulates increased production of the pigment molecule chlorophyll. This pigment is what gives most plants their signature green hue. In this way, compared to tea grown under direct sunlight, tencha leaves are known to have a much brighter colour.
Anyone who has seen Japanese green tea and authentic matcha knows that it has a beautiful vibrant green colour.
Fun fact – the amount of sunlight a tea plant receives is inversely proportional to how much caffeine it has. In other words, shade-grown teas are much higher in caffeine than those grown under direct sunlight!
There are select areas prominently known for producing the best matcha in Japan, including Nishio, Aichi, Fuji, Shizuoka, Mie, Fukuoka, Kagoshima and, of course, Uji.
The naming of matcha is a tradition that is taken very seriously in Japan. The chamei, or tea name, may be given by its creator, plantation, shop or a tea ceremony grandmaster. A blend named by a tea ceremony grandmaster is known as their favoured blend.
As we said before, of all the matcha green tea grown in Japan, Uji Matcha is considered the finest high-quality matcha.
Uji Matcha vs Matcha - What's the Difference?
Uji Matcha is named after the city where it’s grown, Uji City. The town itself is located between the two ancient capitals and cultural centres of Kyoto and Nara in Japan.
When green tea was first brought to Japan by Zen priest Eisai in the late 12th century, it was then that Uji became the area for tea planting due to its proximity to the two major hub cities.
While creating matcha, and subsequently matcha powder is a demanding and heavily involved process, matcha green tea makers from Uji have made it into an art form after mastering and perfecting the ideal cultivation techniques over generations.
Below are just a few examples of what sets Uji matcha apart from other variations of matcha powder.
Geographical & Climatic Conditions
Uji is renowned for having the optimal geography and climate for creating the absolute best green tea plants and resulting matcha powder.
The city lies in a basin surrounded by mountains, a lake, a river and small streams. These conditions generate soil that is abundantly rich in minerals. While the area reaches scorching temperatures in the summer and frigid temperatures in the winter, there is never frost.
Locals believe that, due to its geographic location and unique topography, the consistent gentle wind accounts for the absence of a frost that is blown away.
Uji is roughly 50km inland, which provides ideal shielding for adverse weather, including storms, and has relatively low rainfall than other regions. Instead, it has a misty climate with warmer days and cooler nights.
The tea plants themselves are planted on gentle rather than steep slopes like other plantations in Japan, providing the ideal settings to grow the highest quality crops.
As we touched on above, the multiple sources of hydration and climate conditions of the Uji region make the soil incredibly rich in minerals.
Different soil variations will supply various characteristics in both regular and matcha tea products. In Uji, specifically, the soil is primarily acidic, which provides the ideal conditions for matcha cultivation.
Nearby, Lake Biwa supplies the Uji region with old sediment and plenty of humus. For those not well-versed in soil science, humus is the name given to the dark, organic material that forms in soil when plant and animal matter deteriorates.
These ideal soil characteristics also give Uji matcha its signature dark-coloured leaves and strong yet delicious flavor.
Not only is matcha a prime crop of Uji for financial gain, but it’s also ingrained in the region’s unique history and culture.
As we stated previously, green tea was introduced to Japan by Zen priest Eisai in the late 12th century, with Uji being the prime location for tea planting.
Upon his visit, Eisai also educated local priests in the best practices for tea cultivation and preparation methods.
Uji earned a reputation as the best tea production location by perfecting and refining these techniques over generations. Not just for its ideal environment but also for its skilled artisans.
However, it wasn’t until the 16th century that tea growers developed the sun-shade growing method and matcha and matcha powder as we know it came to be.
Why We Use it in Our Uji Matcha Latte
At Baroness Bubble Tea, we are adamant that we use the best quality ingredients to make our signature drinks and mouthwatering bubble tea flavours. We are also passionate about incorporating traditional ingredients with a distinct and fascinating story that further helps us tell ours!
It only fits that we use this enchanting element in our signature sensational Uji Matcha Green Tea Latte!
Prepared fresh, in-house, this latte is delicious on its own. However, when paired with our homemade brown sugar pearls, it’s a ‘matcha’ made in heaven!
This delicious drink combines the perfect blend of earthy matcha flavour with smooth and savoury milk. While we offer regular, we would highly recommend requesting it with our signature oat milk instead!
The extra creamy texture coupled with the added sweet treat will send your tastebuds into overdrive in the best possible way! Not to mention, it’s got health benefits to boost, and it’s lactose-free!
If you’d like to indulge in this unique taste of history and see what sets Uji matcha apart as the best of the best, we’d love to whip something up just for you for your drinking pleasure! We encourage you to come to visit us at Baroness Bubble Tea at 2790 W Broadway, Vancouver, and try some out for yourself!
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