How to Grow a Matcha Plant
Although it is processed differently, the matcha tea comes from the same tea plant (Camellia sinensis) as other teas. Tea can be grown outside in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9, but grown well in containers in other areas. Tea should be planted where it will receive part shade as well as protection from winds. Well-drained soil that is rich in organic material works best for tea plants, and nutrient-deficient soil may need to be amended before planting. The plants produce small white flowers in the fall and grow into dense, round shrubs about 15 feet in diameter.
Prune tea immediately after fall flowering or in the summer. Remove dead and damaged limbs during pruning, and shape the plant as desired, shortening lower branches if you want to encourage vertical growth. Thin the tea during pruning if the shrub is so dense that flowers struggle to open completely.
Spread a layer of organic mulch 2 to 6 inches deep around the base of the plant. Spread the mulch out from the trunk to a distance of about 8 to 12 inches. This will help keep the soil moist, and create a buffer between the trunk of the plant and possible damage from lawnmower and weed trimmer blades. Rake up and replace spent mulch every spring to help prevent fungal infections.
Water your tea as often as needed during dry weather to keep the soil moist but never allow the ground to become wet or soggy. Plants that are three years of age or older likely will receive adequate water from rainfall unless drought occurs. Provide regularly irrigated plants an extended deep soaking twice each summer if the water they were irrigated with is high in salt.
Fertilize the plant every two to three weeks from spring throughout the fall with a fertilizer for acid-loving plants. Apply the fertilizer at one-half the strength recommended on the label.
Keep the area around the base of the plant clean, and free of dropped flowers and petals. Good sanitation practices help reduce the chances of disease and insect problems.
Cover the tea plant with a bamboo screen or other porous cover four weeks before harvest. This screen reduces the amount of sunlight available to the tea leaves, making them work harder and produce more chlorophyll. This is what makes the leaves used in matcha tea more tender and a deeper green than other tea leaves.
Harvest and dry the tea leaves. Remove the stems from the dried leaves and grind them into powder to make matcha tea.
How to Grow a Matcha Plant. Although it is processed differently, the matcha tea comes from the same tea plant (Camellia sinensis) as other teas. Tea can be grown outside in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9, but grown well in containers in other areas. Tea should be planted where it …
How to Grow Matcha (If it were that easy, everyone would do it)
It’s not a huge hassle to drive to the local grocery store and buy your produce—but isn’t it better and healthier to grow your own?
In terms of produce, if you have the gardening space, right weather conditions and a green thumb, I say go for it.
But what about Matcha? Is this delicious green tea something you can and should grow on your own?
How to Grow Matcha
To grow your own Matcha plant, here are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Choose where to plant your Matcha plant. Keep in mind the plant will mature to around 5 feet in diameter and your plant needs to be at minimum 12 feet away from other plants. You also need to choose a shaded area, as lots of sunlight is bad for Matcha plants. If you don’t have a completely shaded area, you can shade your plant with vinyl sheets or bamboo mats. Also, choose an area that has good soil. Matcha requires soil that drains well, but also retains water.
Step 2: Now it’s time to dig a hole to place your plant in. Make sure your hole is at least three times as wide and deep as your Matcha container.
Step 3: Once you’ve planted your plant and filled it in with soil, add a few inches of mulch around it. Matcha requires very moist soil to grow, and mulch helps soil retain its moisture.
Step 4: Next you want to add some fertilizer to the soil. Fertilizer should only be added when first planting, and maybe once every six months after initially planting your Matcha. Be cautious how much fertilizer you use, though, as too much fertilizer can rot the plant’s roots.
Step 5: Harvest your Matcha plant’s leaves. Pluck only the youngest leaves, which usually means the three terminal leaves, and then immediately after plucking steam your tea leaves. Steaming stops fermentation before drying. Traditionally, Matcha harvesting happens once a year at the beginning of May.
Once you’ve harvested your Matcha, your job isn’t done just yet. Next, you have to lay your Matcha leaves out flat to dry. Once the leaves are dried, you have to remove all the vines, stems and buds, and then stone ground each leaf into a fine powder. This may not sound like a lot, but just the grinding of the leaves into fine powder can take up to one hour for just 30 grams of Matcha.
These steps are more of a rough sketch of what it really takes to produce Matcha. On average, it takes between three and five years to cultivate good growing soil and grow tea trees before those trees can produce good Matcha tea leaves.
Why You Should Buy Your Matcha
As you can see, the process of growing Matcha is both complicated and time-consuming—not to mention the correct growing conditions aren’t something everyone has or can make.
The ideal Matcha growing conditions for the best tasting Matcha include:
- A subtropical climate
- Average temperatures between 57 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit
- Wet growing seasons, stable rainfall with a yearly average of 1,300mm or more
- Soil that has good drainage, ventilation and the ability to retain water with a pH of 4 or 5
- Shaded for weeks before plucking
In most cases, Matcha drinkers’ home climate and soil aren’t suitable for growing Matcha. Without the right technique and farming grounds, your Matcha leaves can become burnt—and you don’t want to drink burnt green tea, or worse yet, have a dead plant.
Unless you live in a subtropical climate that has all of the above growing conditions, it’s best to buy Matcha green tea from those who grow their tea in the optimum growing conditions.
It’s not a huge hassle to drive to the local grocery store and buy your produce—but isn’t it better and healthier to grow your own? In terms of produce, if you have the gardening space, right weat…