Here's your guide to selecting the best matcha. The unique chemistry of this antioxidant-rich powdered tea gives you relaxed, focused energy.
Matcha is no ordinary green tea. This unique powdered tea boosts energy that's calm and attentive without the caffeine jitters. If this sounds like a dream drink, it's because it is.
Although matcha is trending in health circles, it's still new to many. You can consume this green tea leaf powder shot glass style like an espresso, in a creamy latte, mixed with fruits, or baked in goods. But how do you know which matcha to buy?
Best Matcha Powder
Traditionally the best matcha comes from the Kyoto prefecture of Japan. The town of Uji is a key area for matcha production. Kyoto is a historical tea-growing area with many plantations producing tea.
But the truth is you can buy excellent matcha from many tea-producing areas in Japan. For example, Pique Matcha is sourced from Kagoshima, the southernmost region of Japan. Kagoshima has 15 tea-growing areas.
Other notable tea-growing areas of Japan include the Shizuoka and Kyushu prefectures. Fukuoka, Saga, and Nishio are all known for producing matcha.
Japanese Matcha Tea
When buying quality matcha, you're looking at the color, texture, smell, flavor, and finish in addition to the country of origin. Presently, high-quality matcha is only from Japan. Just as Bordeaux wine is only produced in Bordeaux, France, any reputable tea vendor will tell you where their tea is sourced. Always buy matcha that is grown and produced in Japan.
Color and Texture
Look for vibrant green color. A dark green, brown, or yellowish hue indicates the leaves are older from the lower portion of the tea bush or the tea itself is old.
The tea powder should be finely ground and silky smooth like flour. It shouldn't be grainy like sugar.
Best Matcha Tea
|GUIDE||PREMIUM MATCHA||INFERIOR MATCHA|
|Color||vibrant green||army green|
|Price||$20 to $35 per ounce||less than $20 per ounce|
|Taste||sweet and umami||bitter and astringent|
|Texture||finely ground, smooth||course|
What Does Matcha Taste Like?
Smell and Flavor
Matcha should taste good. If it tastes bitter, it could either be from poor quality or poor brewing techniques. It should be smooth and not bitter or gritty with sweet vegetal notes.
It's easy to see the different grades simply by looking at the color and texture of the tea powder. The other factor, of course, is taste. Not all matcha tastes the same.
Matcha has the weight and viscosity closer to coffee than tea and is often a coffee alternative. It's an approachable tea that can be served hot or cold and sweet or savory.
Green Tea Powder
Here is a closeup comparison of five different Japanese-grown matchas. Can you tell the difference?
The far left and middle samples are lower grade matcha, and the other three are higher quality.
The above photo is just a small sampling of the wide variety of matcha on the market today. The hallmark of high-end matcha is its vibrant color, smooth texture, and long finish. You can still taste it a few seconds later on your palate.
Where to Buy Matcha Powder
The Lipton Matcha Green tea is a mix of green tea and matcha powder. It comes in a teabag. It is mostly cut green tea with very little matcha. The taste is more like green tea than matcha. It leans toward the bitter side, especially if using water that is too hot.
Adagio ceremonial grade matcha is one of my favorites. It's made with the Samidori cultivar from Uji, Japan. It's the one I always return to over again. I really enjoy this matcha alone and for mixing small lattes. The taste is smooth and not too vegetal.
Sen Cha Naturals is ideal for baking. I love to add it to my smoothies and lattes for minimal cost compared to coffee shops—no more Starbucks Matcha Green Tea Latte for $4.00 when you can make it home for pennies.
Pique SunGoddess matcha is very smooth, clean, and fresh. It's one of the best matcha I've tasted. It's nice that it's organic and screened for toxins. This organic matcha has a delicious flavor.
Matcha Organic Japan smells fresh and wonderful. It is superb matcha. The powder is very smooth and silky. This was a gift, and I'm not sure where to purchase it outside of Japan. It is excellent organic matcha.
The tea bushes for harvesting matcha are shaded for three weeks before harvesting. This shading gives the tea a mellow and smooth flavor. Also, instead of roasting and drying, the tea leaves for matcha are steamed.
The flat leaves are then deveined, destemmed, and ground into the fine green tea powder known as matcha.
Ceremonial Grade Matcha
There are two grades of matcha, ceremonial and culinary.
A ceremonial grade is technically reserved for the Japanese Tea Ceremony, a centuries-honored history in Japan. Tea used for the ceremony used to be hand-picked by tea masters and only the first crops of the season were used.
Today, the term ceremonial grade is used by tea companies to describe any high-grade matcha. Culinary grade describes matcha used for anything except mixing with water or small amounts of milk.
Unlike the USDA certifying process for organic produce, there is no organization categorizing the grade of matcha.
- Espresso Green Tea Latte
- Matcha Green Tea Latte
- What Is Matcha Green Tea?
- The Best Ceremonial Grade Matcha
- How to Make Matcha Without a Whisk
- How to Make The Best Matcha Breakfast Drin
Ceremonial matcha has a sweeter, more pronounced flavor as it comes from the plants' top two leaves. Three weeks of shading before harvesting gives the leaves a boost in chlorophyll and theanine, adding to the sweetness.
Culinary grade tends to be more bitter because it is made with older growth leaves. Because of this, culinary grade is perfect for baking and adding to smoothies or lattes. The additional sugars and flavors blend with the matcha providing all the benefits without the high price.
Expect to pay more for ceremonial grade matcha.
Drinking matcha at home can be a lot of fun. There are so many recipes and different ways to enjoy matcha. You can really get creative. It's a culinary dream.
How to brew:
- Heat water to 176°F (80°C).
- Warm your tea bowl with hot water.
- Sift 1 tsp matcha into a cup using a small sifter.
- Add 1 to 2 oz. hot water and make a paste. For best results, use water just under a boil.
- Add the remainder of the hot water to fill your cup. Whisk vigorously in a zig-zag motion until the tea is frothy. A layer of delicate foam bubbles should cover the surface.
- Fully aerated tea enhances the flavor.
- The goal is to produce a smooth, mellow cup of matcha with umami notes throughout. Enjoy!
Simple Matcha Latte
How to make a matcha latte:
- Sift 1 teaspoon matcha into a cup.
- Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
- Whisk with a little bit of hot water.
- Add warm milk, frothed if you like.
- Stir and enjoy. It is delicious!
You should use higher-grade matcha for lattes as you can taste the astringency if it is low quality. Especially if you don't want to add sugar.
Best Green Tea
Of all the green teas to choose from, matcha has the most benefits. Because you are consuming the entire tea leaf, you benefit from higher antioxidants, most notably EGCG, higher caffeine, and higher l-theanine levels.
One of the secrets of the Zen monks was drinking matcha. It helped them stay alert and focused during long stints of meditation.
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