The Rise of Matcha?

Every now and then a few members of the media get it in their heads that certain types of tea are poised to be the next thing. I don’t know if this was the case with green tea way back when, but it’s safe to say that anyone who predicted the immense popularity of this type of tea was on the ball. More recently, we’ve seen white tea receive a flurry of attention that never quite matched up to its more colorful cousin. Even the lesser known type known as puerh seemed like it might be poised for a breakthrough – though it hasn’t come just yet.

Izu Matcha from ETS video (click on image to go to full video)
Izu Matcha from ETS video (click on image to go to full video)

Then there’s matcha, which is actually just another type of green tea, but a rather specialized type that is primarily produced in Japan and is distinguished by the fact that the entire leaf is used, specifically by crushing it into a fine powder. As I noted in summer of 2012, matcha – once used primarily in the Japanese tea ceremony – was already starting to show some signs of growing popularity.

More recently, a few well-known publications circulated the notion that we are the verge of some sort of matcha frenzy. Elle magazine’s web presence posed the question, Is Matcha Green Tea the Next Ultra-Trendy Beverage, but suggested that it was “still on the cusp of hitting it big.” The article claims that matcha has already been sanctioned by a well-known actress and suggests that, like some other trendy beverages, “One day they’re hard to find in a New York City Whole Foods, then two months later, they’re holding court in the shelves of a Nevada CVS.” The article also presents a primer on matcha, with an assist from a high-end vendor of the stuff.

In Ireland, that great bastion of tea drinking, tea is, for the most part, synonymous with the black stuff. The common wisdom is that the Irish are particularly fond of Assam tea from India. Not so long ago, in the Independent, one of Ireland’s newspapers, an article appeared that speculated on whether matcha was indeed on the way to becoming “the next big thing.”

The writer goes so far as to state that “If you’ve never had a drink of matcha before, there’s a good chance those days are numbered.” Which seems a bit much but who am I to say. While the tea ceremony is mentioned and a matcha purveyor is interviewed, the focus of this article seems for the most part to be on the potential health benefits of matcha. Which, after all, is just another form of green tea, something that has been lauded for these health benefits for some time now.

See more of William I. Lengeman’s articles here.

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