How is Matcha produced and processed?
In Early April, four weeks prior to harvest. The plantations are covered with tented black vinyl sheets for 20days to shut out the sunlight, So the leaves build up more chlorophyll and amino acid content which gives matcha it’s naturally delicate and sweet flavor.
The 1st harvest is in May, Also refer as First Flush. The first Harvest young leaves are carefully plucked by hand to make sure the absolute finest Matcha are picked. The first harvest high end tea in Japan is called Shincha(新茶) It has extremely rich and strong aroma and deep flavor.
The 2nd Harvest is in June. The second harvest tea has a very tasteful aroma, and the taste is a little more lighter compared to the first harvest Shincha(新茶) . The second Harvest is premium tea and it has the most Catechins (EGCG), Which will boost Metabolism and Antioxidant Effects.
The 3rd harvest is in July and August, The price is cheaper compared to the 1st and 2nd harvest.
The 4th harvest is in September and October. It usually processed into Genmaicha（玄米茶）by mixing it with roasted brown rice.
Once the leaves are picked, within 12 hours the leaves are carefully steamed which avoids fermentation. The steaming process lasts for about 15 and 20 seconds, Thanks to this steaming process, The natural green color, fragrance and nutritional components are retained.
Cooling down & Drying:
Once the Leaves finished the steaming process,they are cool down by a mild flow of air from the multi-chambered air machine. And then laid evenly over a conveyor belt and enter into the fire pit oven for further drying. The leaves will pass through a special drum-like machine where the veins and stem are separated from the main part of the leaf. And this is how Tencha ( 碾茶）is produced.