high quality matcha online

How To Make Sure You’re Buying High Quality Matcha Online

August 28, 2017 in Learn / Matcha 101: Learn About This Green Tea

Matcha is growing in popularity and so are the amount of companies that are making this powdered green tea available. The downside to the vast options is that it can make shopping for matcha overwhelming. But having an in-store matcha shopping experience is a bit different than shopping for high quality matcha online. You’re at a disadvantage because you don’t get the chance to sample the tea therefore you have no way to experience the aroma, feel and taste to tell if the matcha is authentic. The important thing to note here is that not all matcha is equal. Here’s a quick story about what inspired this blog post topic.

Sometimes I receive emails from readers with matcha questions. There was one email in particular that really stood out. This person was asking if the matcha she has been buying is high quality and worth it because she couldn’t afford it anymore. She went on to tell me that it is sold through a gym and is $100 (!!) for a 30 day supply. Yikes! After some research, I saw that this matcha was marketed as a health supplement and, truthfully, wasn’t really matcha at all. Drink whatever matcha you enjoy but getting ripped off isn’t fun. This reader’s Japanese green tea wasn’t sourced from Japan, and I don’t even think we can call this stuff matcha as it was filled, and I mean filled, with so much other “superfood” ingredients and artificial junk.

Learning how to tell the difference between a low and high quality matcha online can take some practice, but will be worth it in the end when you find one you love. To help, here are 6 things to pay close attention to when shopping for high quality matcha online.

When Buying High Quality Matcha Online Look At…

The Colour

Everyone loves that eye-catching bright green matcha colour, but that’s not how every matcha out there looks. The first way to get a better insight on the quality of the matcha you are buying is to make sure the matcha is actually green. It is a green tea after all. However, you’ll be surprised at the amount of matcha that is brown and very dull. The best matcha will be a vibrant green. When shopping online, brands should have pictures of the matcha packaging and inside contents on their website. Be wary if a brand doesn’t show the actual matcha green tea powder on their website because if you have high quality matcha why wouldn’t you want to show it off? Also, note that images can easily be edited, and most of the time, you can tell if the saturation has been altered on a photo to make the matcha look brighter than it actually is. That’s why the colour of the matcha isn’t the only way to tell if you’re buying great quality online!

The Origin

Another factor to consider is where the tea was grown, harvested and processed. While matcha can be sourced from various countries, it is said the higher quality comes from Japan. I know there are some people out there who don’t mind matcha from other countries. Before I ever knew much about matcha the one I drank regularly was not from Japan. It turned me off from the green tea right away, but I kept trying to like it. It wasn’t until I had Japanese matcha to compare it to that I noticed the quality I was missing! So, if you can, I suggest doing side-by-side comparison of Japanese matcha and matcha from elsewhere to really understand the differences in appearance, aroma and taste. There are different regions in Japan that matcha can be sourced.  Uji (my favourite) and Nishio are the top spots!

The Ingredients

I think this can be one of the most overlooked steps when shopping for matcha online. I guess it’s because matcha is supposed to be just that and nothing else but that isn’t always the case. Just like other food items you may buy, checking the ingredients list beforehand can save you any trouble in the long run. Unfortunately, matcha with filler ingredients is out there as this is a great way for companies to offset the cost. So, check the ingredients list and make sure it is nothing but 100% pure matcha. No additives. No artificial or natural flavours. No sugar. Ever.

The Price

This isn’t the greatest way to tell if a matcha is high quality, but it can be helpful after you have checked off the above points. The reason for this is that some companies can still overprice lower quality matcha and then there are many cases when you might see 80-100grams of matcha being sold for only $20-$30. If it sounds a bit too good to be true, then it is probably more of a “culinary” grade matcha being sold as “ceremonial” grade. In other words, not something you would want to use to just make as a hot tea. However, this doesn’t mean you should be paying an extremely high price for a high quality. A fair price for great matcha is about $1 per gram. You can definitely find ceremonial matcha being sold in 30-40 grams tins or pouches with a $30-$40 price point.

The Reviews

Like other products sold online, reviews are a great way for consumers to learn about others’ experiences with tea. I wouldn’t base your thoughts entirely on one review though, as tea is all about taste preferences. However, I admit that most teas I try today are from recommendations from fellow tea drinkers. Another thing to keep in mind is to not just rely on matcha reviews that are directly on a company’s website. The company can control those reviews. I would highly recommend checking out reviews on forums and tea blogs as the bloggers have control of their own thoughts there. If you come across a matcha online but you’re not certain about the quality and worth, don’t be afraid to reach out to a seasoned tea drinker, like a blogger, to get their advice, too.

The Owner

Honestly, if you can’t find any of this information on a company’s website or have more questions about the matcha they are selling, don’t hesitate to send them an email. The way I see it…someone selling high quality matcha online should be very familiar with their Japanese green tea and have no problem answering your questions to learn more before you make a purchase! 🙂
high quality matcha online

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*If you still need some help finding high quality matcha that is at an affordable price, be sure to check out my top 5 favourite matcha brands.

Do you have any additional tips when it comes to shopping for high quality matcha online? Share in the comments below!

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8 Comments

  • Reply Vladimir Tankhimovich August 28, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Great post, Lu Ann, and very much needed. It’s a jungle out there for us matcha novices.
    I would like to add that if you shop for matcha on Amazon, you can’t always trust even verified purchase reviews. I always run product URL through fakespot.com to see how trustworthy the reviews are.
    I recently ran into “Viva Naturals Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder [3 oz] – Japanese Ceremonial Grade for Lattes, Smoothies and Baked Goods”. How do you like that – ceremonial grade matcha for baked goods? Needless to say, its mostly good reviews got an “F” Fakespot grade for both product and entire company…

    • Reply Lu Ann Pannunzio August 28, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Thanks Vladimir. This was stuff I wish I knew when I first started drinking matcha! I will have to keep that site in mind, too. And yes, unfortunately too many companies use the term “ceremonial” loosely.

  • Reply Gabie - Tea End Blog August 28, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    Great post! Thanks for sharing as Matcha is becoming reay popular and with popularity comes counterfeits unfortunately… thanks again!!

  • Reply Patty September 5, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Thanks for the insight to Matcha green tea.

  • Reply Mika September 7, 2017 at 11:37 am

    Hello there Lu Ann. I hope you and yours are happy and healthy.
    I am a matcha powder novice. I’d like to share some of my story & get your feedback.
    1. 1st tried matcha from Trader Joes on an employees recommendation. (before this I’d never heard of matcha tea) the brand name is Green Foods organic ceremonial grade, I was appalled when I started researching matcha & came to realize that it was nothing of the sort!! It is cut w/ brown rice!
    2.Next, I tried Epic Matcha both ceremonial & culinary grades.
    I still do not enjoy the flavor very much when drank as a tea. I love it in a smoothie though & that is generally the only way I drink it.
    3. I also tried from Ippodo matcha again I only like it in a smoothie.
    4. About 1 1/2 weeks into drinking a matcha smoothie 2x’s daily (almond milk, greek yogurt, banana, mangos, dates, blueberries, raw local honey, peaches, figs, almonds, prunes) not all ingredients at once, lol, my health changed drastically! At 47 yrs. old I was walking w/ a cane due to severe hip bursitis and after a short time drinking this I no longer use the cane at all not ever!!! I have very very little pain now.
    I realize you’re not a doctor but have you ever heard of such benefits as a result of matcha powder usage?
    Typically I use approx. 1 tablespoon twice daily in a smoothie.
    What I am most confused about is what grade I should be buying. I realize that ceremonial grade is not what I should use for a smoothie but won’t I sacrifice all the health benefits if I use a lower grade matcha powder because I won’t drink it as a tea, I don’t like the flavor in that manner?
    It really is hard to wade through this matcha jungle to find a good product! I found your article on this very topic very helpful.
    Thank you so very much!!

    • Reply Grace & Green September 9, 2017 at 7:22 am

      Dear Mika,

      I’d like you to know that many matcha outside Japan are low grade ones. So, culinary (or cooking or latte) grade matcha outside Japan are super low grade ones. Sometimes they are not matcha powder but powdered green tea (Sencha powder).
      Yes, finding a good matcha is very difficult. This is because many matcha brands do not tell you the name of the matcha brands in Japan from which they buy with their own private labels.
      Famous matcha brands are doing business well in Japan (they don’t need to export their matcha) but not good ones need to sell somewhere. Another fact is that many single estate green tea farms are exporting their matcha. Single estate sounds good but as for matcha, that is not the case.
      We are sorry for making you confused to find good matcha.
      Lastly I’d like you to know that truly high quality matcha is delicious!

      I hope you will find good one soon!
      Ritsuo

    • Reply Lu Ann Pannunzio September 9, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Hi Mika,
      Thanks for reaching out and sharing your matcha experiences. Don’t worry — I have been there and that’s why I wanted to share some of the things that have helped me find better quality. That is incredible news about the health differences you have noticed from matcha. I don’t focus too much on the health benefits of matcha myself, so I don’t think I have heard of something like that before. If you want to use matcha for smoothies mainly, then I would recommend Grace & Green’s Regular matcha (https://gracematcha.com/collections/matcha-powder/products/regular-matcha). Even though it is a lower grade than ceremonial it is still authentic matcha. Like Ritsuo mentioned, some lower grade matchas are not even really matcha and therefore wouldn’t have all the health benefits everyone talks about. I hope I helped in any way! 🙂
      – Lu Ann

  • Reply Misako Kikuchi September 19, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Lu Ann,
    I really enjoyed this post, because normally I either get my matcha/ocha from a Japanese/international store or from a distributor. Lately I have been thinking about trying to buy some online to taste other brands. I grew up drinking Japanese teas (ocha, sencha, matcha, genmaicha etc.) since my grandmother is from Japan and a lot of the tips you give in this post are great to keep in mind when you are buying them from a store as well. I learned from her and my dad that if you have a lower- to mid-grade matcha (culinary or not quite super high quality) and a mid-grade Japanese green tea, you can add a bit of matcha powder to give it a bit more flavor. I do this when I have a lower grade sencha or with genmaicha (Japanese brown rice green tea). Genmaicha is not typically my favorite, but I do enjoy it more when I mix it with a little bit of matcha powder. I recommend to not add too much powder at first – I generally just eyeball it, but perhaps half a teaspoon to start for about 30 grams of the tea leaves is a good start.

    Thank you and have a great day!
    Misako Kikuchi

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