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Matcha starts its life as young green tea leaves, but the growing process and harvesting techniques make it unique. About three weeks before harvesting, the leaves are shade-grown which slows down the growing process and stimulates an increase in the chlorophyll levels. During this time, the leaves turn dark, produce more antioxidants and amino acids, particularly L-Theanine. When the leaves have developed enough, they are carefully selected for quality and harvested individually by hand. The leaves are then laid out flat to become dry and crumbly, if they are rolled up before drying they result in a different type of tea. After the leaves have dried they are destemmed, deveined and stone-ground into a bright green powder. If the stones get too hot while grinding they will negatively affect the aroma of the leaves which makes the process slow, sometimes taking an hour to grind 30 grams of powder. The bright green powder is then carefully packed and stored at low temperature to preserve flavor, antioxidant levels, and nutritional content.