Matcha – More Than Just Powdered Green Tea
Matcha, known for its bright green colour, characteristic flavour, and excellent nutritional profile, has grown extremely popular in recent times. It is now consumed all over the world and is found in everything from smoothies to skincare. However, the practice of drinking Matcha is actually thousands of years old!
Matcha was first invented by zen monks in China and eventually introduced to Japan in the late 12th century. The Japanese refined the production process, adopting new techniques to cultivate the premium green tea leaves used to make the Matcha we know and love today.
While Matcha means "ground tea", powdered green tea is not equal to Matcha.
Moreover, Matcha quality itself can vary drastically. Thus, to enjoy the full flavour and health benefits of this superfood, knowing how to select the best Matcha powder is essential.
Here are some tips on how to choose the best Matcha powder for your Matcha lattes and more!
Tip 1: Origin
Matcha may have originated in China, however, it was perfected in Japan.
Although the misty climate and acidic soil conditions in Southern Japan contribute to tea quality, the most important differences that distinguish Japanese Matcha from green tea grown elsewhere are the unique production techniques employed.
- Japanese Matcha is always grown in the shade rather than in the direct sun.
- Only the finest tea leaves are handpicked during harvesting, after which the veins and stems removed.
- The Matcha leaves (tencha) are slowly stone ground at low temperatures. If ground too fast, the heat from the grinding will cause oxidation of the Matcha.
These steps are key to maximising the nutrients and flavour of the final product.
To get the best Matcha powder quality, check that the origin is one of the renowned Japanese Matcha-growing areas like Uji, Kyoto and Nishio, Aichi which account for 80% of Japan's Matcha production.
Tip 2: Color
Matcha's characteristic bright green colour is due to its special cultivation process.
The tea leaves used to make matcha are always shade grown which causes them to produce more green chlorophyll, antioxidants and L-theanine, the amino acid that gives matcha its distinct flavour.
To choose the best matcha powder, select one with a vibrant green colour.
Dark green, yellow-ish, or even brown-ish matcha indicates a low quality product that was either not properly shaded or made from old leaves growing at the bottom of the plant.
Besides appearance, the taste and nutritional profile of dull-coloured matcha powder will be lacking compared to that of a bright green matcha.
Tip 3: Smooth vs Rough Texture
Another way to judge the quality of matcha is to simply touch the powder.
Stone ground matcha that has been ground into a fine powder will feel very smooth, almost like dust.
Inferior quality Matcha, on the other hand, will feel rough, with a texture like sand. The coarse particles of tea will not mix well with water, leading to a grainy instead of creamy latte.
Tip 4: Scent and Taste
Good Matcha smells fresh and grassy and has a vegetal, slightly sweet taste. Much of this flavour can be attributed to the aforementioned amino acid, L-theanine. Poor quality teas contain less L-theanine and as a result, taste much more bitter.
Tip 5: Price
As with many products, the higher the matcha quality, the higher the price.
Processes such as handpicking matcha leaves, removing veins, and stone grinding in small batches are tedious and time consuming.
Matcha produced this way will have significantly higher production costs and will need to be sold at a higher price. However, it will also taste much better.
You can expect to pay $20-40 for 30g of high-quality Matcha. Anything cheaper than this may run the risk of being poorer quality.
We hope you found these tips useful and that you now know how to pick the best Matcha powder for your Matcha endeavours!
But if not...
Which Matcha suits me best?
Not all Matcha is made equal. Take our quiz to find your Matcha match.