What is Uji Matcha and Why is it the Most Famous Tea?

What is Uji matcha exactly? This is the question we will attempt to answer in this blog article. We’ll take a look at what Uji matcha is, where it comes from and why it has become the most famous type of matcha around the world.

Let’s get started!


What is Uji Matcha? 

Let’s start off with the basics and talk about what is Uji matcha. Uji matcha simply refers to a powdered green tea that was produced in Uji, Japan.

It is common to name matcha based on the region it was grown in and while there are many areas matcha can be produced, Uji is perhaps the most famous.

If you want to learn about some of the lesser known tea growing regions, you may enjoy this article 👉 Where Does Japanese Tea Grow?

What is Matcha

Matcha is essentially a powdered green tea, but it needs to be made from top leaves on a shaded matcha plant in order to be considered high quality. These high quality ceremonial matcha teas are smooth enough to drink plain, without milk or sugar.

These leaves are shaded for 3 weeks prior to the harvest in order to boost their sweet and savory flavor. Then, the top 3 sprouts are selected, as these are the smoothest in flavor and highest in nutrients.

Finally, the stems are removed and the tea is ground into a fine powder in a large stone mill.

If you want to learn more about matcha, we made a complete encyclopedia for you 👉 What is Matcha? The one and only Matcha-Encyclopedia

Where is Uji

In order to understand what is Uji matcha, you need to understand where Uji is. Uji is a small region right in the center of Japan’s main island of Honshu. 

The city of Uji is located just a few minutes south of the more famous city of Kyoto, but it is surrounded by tea fields that grow the famous Uji matcha. As we will explore in the next section, this region has a lot of history, especially when it comes to the production of green tea.


What is Uji Matcha History?

Now that we have covered the basics of what is Uji matcha, we can talk a bit about what makes the region so special.

If you’re wondering what is Uji matcha so famous for, the main answer has to do with the rich history of this region dating back to the 1200s.

Early Japanese Tea History

1191 AD is the first record of tea seeds being planted in Japan on the grounds of Kozanji temple in Toganoo. This region, not too far from Kyoto or Uji, was known for producing the best Japanese tea.

Tea seeds were also given to Myoe Shonin, who started growing tea in Uji. Uji was considered to be the second best tea in Japan in the year 1383.

For a complete guide to the tea history of Japan, you can read this article 👉 History of green tea in japan & Tea ceremony

1460 AD - Uji Tea Reigns Supreme

In 1460, the silver medal Uji tea once had began to be called into question, when the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa proclaimed: “Uji [tea] during this age has recently been the favorite brand [of the shogun]”

For the next century, there was much debate over which tea was considered better, the original tea region Toganoo or the young upstart of Uji. By the end of the 1500s, Uji tea was broadly considered to be the best.

The Invention of Shading

Throughout the next few centuries, there was a lot of innovation taking place in Uji. The farmers discovered that by shading the tea plants and cutting them off from sunlight, they could produce sweeter teas. 

This was also where sencha tea was invented and Gyokuro. Sencha was the first widely consumed loose leaf tea in Japan, and Gyokuro tea still is considered the favorite tea of the emperor. 

If you want to learn more about loose leaf teas like sencha, you might want to check out our complete guide 👉 Everything You Need to Know About Sencha

Uji Tea Today

If you go to Uji today, you will find shops everywhere selling Uji matcha both plain as well as incorporated into various treats.

Uji still does have the reputation for producing the best matcha, almost 600 years after the shogun made his proclamation.


What is Uji Matcha known for?

So what is Uji matcha known for besides its history? There are a number of different factors that make this matcha special.

The terroir of Uji

The soil in Uji is considered to be exceptional quality, the hills are sloping which is the perfect terrain for tea cultivation and the area rarely gets frost, even in the winter.

The people of Uji

In addition to providing a great climate for tea cultivation, there are also so many talented farmers that call this region home. 

Tea cultivation is a craft that is passed down generations, and with centuries of experience, you can imagine the level of talent possessed by these farmers.


Drinking a Part of History

The long legacy of high quality Uji matcha continues and if you would like to take part in it, you can try some Uji matcha for yourself.

Now that you know what is Uji matcha and why it is so special, this tea will take on an even deeper meaning!


What is Uji Matcha - The Final Verdict

While there are many regions in Japan that produce excellent matcha, Uji is considered to be the most famous. If you are wondering what is Uji matcha all about, you definitely should try it for yourself.

It is important to state that just because a matcha is from Uji, does not make it good and there are plenty of wonderful matcha teas being produced in Shizuoka and Kagoshima as well.

Given the history, terroir and the people of Uji, it is the perfect recipe for great tasting matcha tea!

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