Matcha (抹茶) is a powder green tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony. But nowadays matcha is also used as a fancy drink or to flavour foods such as mochi and soba noodles, shakes or ice cream. Matcha is made of tencha, a shaded tea similar to gyokuro.
Matcha are often given poetic names called chamei (tea names) either by the producing plantation, shop or creator of the blend, or by the grand master of a particular tea tradition. When a blend is named by the grand master of some tea ceremony lineage, it becomes known as the master's konomi, or favoured blend.
During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), green tea was ground into a powder before being brewed. Since green tea was considered as medicine it was powdered for consumption.
Zen Buddhism and the Chinese methods of preparing powdered tea were brought to Japan in 1191 by the Japanese monk Eisai. Eisai had experienced how Buddhist monks in China drank matcha as a aid in their meditation.
Sen no Rikyu (千利休) perfected the Japanese tea ceremony known as chanoyu (茶の湯).