It seems like the biggest “trend” for 2015 thus far but matcha has been around for centuries! I’m glad people are taking notice of the incredible beverage of course but there are many grades out there that you should be aware of before you make your purchase. Today, I’m going to talk about ceremonial and culinary grade. I am in no way a professional but matcha quality is something I am continually educating myself about.
Ceremonial is the highest grade. If you are wanting to prepare your matcha the traditional way this is the best grade that you will want to purchase to use. Culinary is a lower grade and because of this it is usually less expensive. It’s best used as an ingredient in food and/or beverages such as smoothies.
Unfortunately, you may sometimes find companies selling culinary grade as ceremonial and you still have to pay the more expensive price tag. When I first started drinking matcha I ran into this problem. A lot. I thought I was getting such a great deal when I found 80 grams of matcha for around $30. After a bunch of research and a lot of chats with people in the industry I began to learn that there wasn’t only one grade of matcha no matter how often a company may tell you “our matcha is best matcha out there.” So how do you know what matcha quality you are buying? Don’t be afraid to ask questions before hand. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that I find work best for me. Feel free to chime in if you have anything to add.
- Where was the matcha grown and processed?
- How does the colour look?
- What part of the tea plant was used to produce the matcha?
- Is it organic and/or are there any additives?
I happen to have four different matcha brands in my tea stash that would be perfect for a fun matcha experiment. While it is more common to prepare matcha with a “foam” on the top layer, for this purpose of exposing the entire liquid, I did not attempt that during this experiment. I have also set aside each matcha in a smaller white cup so that it is hopefully better to see the colour. I will not be sharing the brands’ names in this post. This experiment is not intended to call out certain brands, rather help others decipher and understand different matcha qualities better. I am also not saying that a specific matcha is bad and you should only stick to a certain one. Everyone has their own palate. Depending on how you like your matcha and plan to consume it, you will make your own decision on what makes your taste buds sing.
Name: Japanese Matcha Supreme
Origin: Somewhere in Japan
Harvest Date: Undisclosed
Price: $34.00 for 50 grams
Tasting Notes: While the powder from this matcha is brighter green than the first it is still a bit dull. The froth accessibility is friendlier. For the taste, I found this matcha to be rather light. It is a shame that I could not find the exact region in Japan this matcha came from to get more information.
Tasting Notes: Aichi is more north Japan which results in colder climates. I was informed that this could cause the leaves to become harder creating a more bitter taste. I think this made for a unique taste. It’s quite vegetal and thankfully, stronger than the other two.
Tasting Notes: This matcha is the brightest of them all. The very fine powder and the vibrant green just sings to me. With a full body, this matcha had a delicious creamy texture that made me want more. I was surprised to see that it is also price very well given the high quality.
Now let’s answer those questions we were asking ourselves earlier…
- Matcha that was grown and processed somewhere in Japan is going to be your best option for high quality because of the environment.
- The greener and more vibrant the colour of the matcha, the higher the quality.
- Learning what part of the Camellia Sinensis plant was used for the matcha may be harder to find out but I have been told the top leaves and bud are to be used. If your matcha has a harsher taste it could be because bigger leaves and stems were mixed into the powder.
- You are consuming the actual tea leaves with matcha and because of this I believe that organic should be the way to go. You do not want to be ingesting chemicals with your super drink. Also, sometimes you may find matcha that has other sugar or flavourings added to it. Stick to pure.
This experiment made me realize more how important it is to ask questions. Finding information about some of the matcha brands online was difficult. Instead of just ignoring the unanswered questions go out there and ask! It’s nice when a company has all the helpful details about it’s matcha outlined on it’s website so consumers can research before their purchase. Kudos to those that do!
Did you find this matcha comparison helpful? Do you have anything to add? Please let me know in the comments below!