For Matcha, unlike other green tea, farmers take great care to gradually shade the tea plants from sunlight in the month before harvest. This causes the new shoots to develop larger, thinner, and tenderer leaves, and Matcha’s signature, vibrant emerald color.
During harvest, which takes place in May of each year, only new leaves are picked. The leaves are steamed briefly to stop any fermentation, and then dried. Next, they are sorted for grade, and stems, veins, and any inferior quality leaves are removed. At this point, the leaves are called “tencha” and they are stored in cold storage. Aging deepens the flavor of the tea. After the tencha is ground on a stone mill into a fine powder, it is known as Matcha.