In Japan, green tea for matcha is harvested up to four times per growing season. Each harvest, also known as flush, is used for a different type of matcha. This gives first, second, and third flush tea their own unique flavor properties.
The Characteristics of First, Second, and Third Flush Matcha
Harvested between late April and mid-May, first flush matcha is considered the highest quality and most precious. During this time, only the youngest and most tender leaves from the top of the green tea plant are picked. First flush teas are complex in flavor, sweeter, and less astringent than leaves from later harvests. High-quality ceremonial matcha should be ground from 100% first flush tea. Our Kiwami Super Ceremonial Matcha, Hikari Ceremonial Matcha, and Organic Satori Ceremonial Matcha are all first flush.
Tea from the second harvest in June and July consists of larger leaves. The result is a robust and intensely fruity tea. The third, or autumn, harvest in September and October is usually the last or the second to last picking. These leaves yield a less complex and distinctly nutty tea. Third flush matcha is occasionally blended with earlier harvests for culinary grade matcha, sometimes referred to as latte grade. This method is used for our Organic Culinary Matcha which is ideal for baked goods, matcha lattes, and other food items.
The Harvest Process
Harvesting green tea for matcha is a time-sensitive, multi-step process that continues after the picking of tencha leaves. Immediately following the tea grove work, the leaves are transported to a processing facility where they are flash-steamed to halt oxidation and preserve their vibrant green color.
Next, the tea is air-dried in tall cages under constant cool airflow. Then, in the last step before bundling, the leafy part is separated from the stem. While stems are not ground into matcha, they are used for a “stem” tea called Kukicha. At the end of this process, bales of dried leaves are stored, ready to be ground-to-order for our range of Single Origin, Ceremonial, and Culinary Matcha. By ordering our tea ground-to-order in small batches, we guarantee the matcha you receive is as fresh as possible. All our matcha has been ground within three months of arriving at your door.
As we enter harvest season, we’d like to recognize the masterful care our partner farmers invest each year to ensure the unparalleled quality of Matchaful matcha. Discover our full range of hand-harvested teas on www.matchaful.com.