In the 12th century, the Buddhist monk Eisai brought tea seeds
back from a journey to China; these were planted in different
regions of Japan. At the time, tea was prepared by grinding it to a
fine powder, called Matcha, then beating it in a bowl. This tea
remained the privilege of the nobility for a long time, before it
gradually became popularised, and today it is the central pillar of
the Japanese Zen philosophy and aesthetic, through the
Cha No Yu ceremony.
is made using Tencha leaves which, instead of being
shaped into needles like Gyokuro, are ground to a fine powder that
has a beautiful jade colour.
For the Cha No Yu, two types of Matcha are used:
- Usucha, the most widely used, made from leaves plucked from
young tea plants, which produces a light tea.
- Koicha, made from leaves plucked from tea plants that are at
least 30 years old, which produces a strong tea.
Very delicate and refined, this top quality matcha has a
velvety, mellow texture and a sweet, smooth fragrance.
Plucked from tea plants that are more than 30 years old,
it is processed specially for making Koicha (the thick tea drunk
during the tea ceremony). The liquor has a very pleasant and
What is Koicha?
Koicha is prepared and consumed almost exclusively during the
Japanese tea ceremony, the Cha No Yu. The ceremony starts with a
light dish – Kaiseki – then after a short pause,
continues with Goza Iri, the central part of the ceremony, during
which a thick tea (Koicha) is served first, followed by a light tea
The difference between Koicha and Usucha:
- Koicha is much thicker than Usucha (light tea), and has a
consistency similar to runny honey.
- It is smoother and sweeter than Usucha.
- Koicha is usually made using a more expensive Matcha (of a
grade designated for tea ceremonies) than the one used to make
- Two preparation methods are used, which differ in terms of the
amount of tea, the quantity of water, and the whisking (see
Compared with Seijo no Shiro, which is ideal for making Usucha,
Meiju is a thicker, more concentrated Matcha. It has a more complex
structure and is less astringent in the