For a true matcha product the tea bushes are tenderly cultivated under well regulated shades and hand-picked for harvest. This allows the manufacturer to select only the freshest tenderest leaves. It goes without saying that in this case the amount of tea that can be produced is limited. It thus doesn’t surprise that a matcha of this quality is near to impossible to obtain in the West.
It is thick tea, koicha, [濃茶] that is “tea proper”. Proper thick tea is mid-way between a liquid and a paste. It can only be blended [練(ね)る], using a bamboo whisk cut into tines that are fewer, and consequently thicker and stronger. Even for a single guest’s serving, the volume of powder required is such that, upon contact with that powder, the temperature of heated water immediately drops.