Matcha green tea is a traditional Japanese tea. It is made from finely ground green tea leaves and is known worldwide for its numerous health benefits and outstanding aroma. Matcha green tea is mainly enjoyed in the Far East, and countries like Japan, China or Koreas. However, as of lately, the rest of the world has recognized the outstanding worth of this tea. Nowadays, Matcha green tea is an indispensable ingredient in smoothies, lattes, cocktails, and even recipes for sweet and savory food.
Because of fame across the world, people are trying to learn more and more about the outstanding Matcha powder. Usually, everyone is interested in the unique ways of preparing Matcha green tea. However, it might be even more important to know which Matcha green tea is actually good, if not the best, for different types of consumption. To bring you the Matcha green tea close, in the following paragraphs we will look into types of Matcha green tea that are simply the best.
Matcha Green Tea Types and Grades
The quality of the Matcha green tea is usually established through the inspection of the leaves profile. For example, Matcha tea can be made out of leaves that were harvested young or mature. Young leaves, which are harvested early in the season, are known for their delicate and vegetal flavor. Mature leaves, on the other hand, are more on the bitter side of the flavor, because they contain stems and leaf veins.
However, Matcha tea undergoes an even more detailed inspection when observing the quality. That is why in the world of Matcha, there are three different grades or quality of the tea powder. These grades are used to determine the type of tea, its quality, taste, texture, flavor and health benefits. So, in order to see which Matcha green tea is the best, we must learn about these grades.
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Ceremonial Grade Matcha Green Tea – The Best Matcha
Ceremonial grade Matcha green tea is the first harvest Matcha, and also, the most expensive one. This grade of Matcha is, of course, used at the Japanese tea ceremonies and is only for drinking. This Matcha powder is not used for culinary purposes as it is made from the youngest tea leaves which makes the powder extremely high in quality.
The production of Ceremonial Matcha is also quite demanding. The leaves are harvested in May, but before harvesting, the plants need to be covered at least 15 to 20 days. Once the harvesting season begins, young leaves are selected carefully. Then, the farmers make sure to remove stems and leaf veins from each leaf, which is rather meticulous work. Once the leaves are ready, the farmers grind them using a stone mill. In order to preserve the health properties and nutrients in the tea, the grinding process is done at a considerably low speed. This also helps the powder achieve the intense, bright green color, as well as retain it after the grinding is done.
- Color and Taste
Because it is ground so finely, into microparticles, Ceremonial Matcha is usually of vibrant green color. Moreover, the color of the Ceremonial Matcha powder also depends on those 20 days during which the plants are covered. During this period, the leaves continue to grow in the shade, which forces the plants to produce more chlorophyll. That is why high-quality Matcha has a distinct, vibrant and bright green color. It is, however, important to mention that Ceremonial Matcha can turn darker in color, especially after a few months of storing or shelf life. When it comes to taste, Ceremonial Matcha is very delicate in flavor. It is usually served plain, mixed only with hot water.
Best Ceremonial Matcha Green Tea Brands
Choosing the best brand for Ceremonial Matcha green tea can be rather difficult. Many claim that their Ceremonial Matcha is the best, but the quality of the tea is usually unsatisfactory. That is why we’ve decided to include some of our recommendations for the best Ceremonial Matcha green tea brands;
- Encha Ceremonial Grade Pure Organic Matcha – this is the best organic Japanese Matcha green tea to be found. It is made from premium quality leaves, has a pure, vibrant green color and the smoothest, richest taste. This is the Matcha green tea that is worthy of the Japanese tea ceremonies, usually chosen by the best tea masters. Of course, it is pricey, starting at $22.95 per 30g. However, you will definitely get your money’s worth by getting to experience probably the best Ceremonial Matcha in the world.
- Grace & Green Ceremonial Matcha – traditionally, this is one of the best Japanese Matcha green tea powders in the world. They are produced by the Japanese company Grace & Green, which is based in Chiba Prefecture in Japan. Their Ceremonial Matcha tea is known for its smoothness and rich flavor, and is respected by tea connoisseurs around the world. Their Ceremonial Matcha has received numerous awards and is recognized as premium Ceremonial Matcha. That is why the tea is also pricier; the starting price is $25 per 20g. The price can go higher depending on the shipping cost.
- Mizuba Tea Nagomi Ceremonial Matcha – the Nagomi Ceremonial Matcha is certified by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan (JAS). This is a single harvest Matcha, meaning it is harvested only once a year. The Nagomi Ceremonial Matcha has a bold and profound umami flavor, with a scent of dried figs or roasted hazelnuts and vegetal tones.
Best Standard Grade Matcha Green Tea
When it comes to standard grade Matcha, there are two ways the quality evaluation goes; it can mean that the process of harvesting and producing the tea hasn’t been done perfectly (there were flaws and shortcuts in the process), or the leaves are a second or third harvest. Either way, this is still Matcha that is high in quality, and to regular tea drinkers, the difference between Ceremonial and Standard grade is unnoticeable.
Standard grade Matcha tea undergoes the same production procedure as the Ceremonial grade. However, sometimes the plants are not covered exactly 20 days before the harvest. They usually stay covered between 10 and 15 days, or they are harvested much later. Moreover, the de-veining and de-stemming process may not be as meticulous as it is with the first-harvest leaves. Sometimes, few stems or veins remain, which can affect the flavor of the end product. The grinding is also not as thorough, and the grinding temperature might not be optimal. All of the aforementioned differences between standard and Ceremonial grade Matcha are the result of shortcuts and flaws in the process of harvesting and producing Matcha.
- Color and Taste
The color of the standard grade Matcha is usually a vibrant green. However, it can certainly be more yellowish or brownish, since the production process can diminish the quality of the color, and taste as well. Moreover, if you are not used to drinking, for example, Ceremonial Matcha, then the standard grade will be just as fine. It is usually hard to discern the differences in taste, especially to someone whose pallet is not trained in discovering differences in Matcha taste quality.
Best Standard Grade Matcha Green Tea Brands
Just because we are talking about standard grade Matcha, doesn’t mean there aren’t excellent brands that provide high-quality Matcha green tea. You can consider this as the best Matcha green tea that is also budget-friendly, and won’t leave your pockets completely empty. The health benefits are still there, flavor and color too, so let’s see which brands are the best;
- MatchaDNA Certified Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder – this standard grade Matcha is USDA Certified Organic Matcha. It is lab tested for heavy metals and lead and has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. The tea is high in antioxidants, especially Vitamins C, B1, B2, and E. It is an excellent replacement for coffee in terms of getting a daily energy boost that is healthy and nutritious. The standard grade Matcha is also lower in prices; the MatchaDNA organic Matcha powder comes at the price of $19 for 16oz.
- Enzo Matcha Green Tea Powder – this standard grade Matcha green tea is considered to be the best in this category. It has a premium, organic flavor, and can be used as an ingredient in lattes, smoothies or cocktails. You can also use this Matcha powder as an ingredient in recipes, in case you want to jazz them up a bit. The Enzo Matcha powder is USDA Certified, as has a starting price of $18 for 4oz.
Best Cooking Grade Matcha Green Tea
Compared to the Ceremonial and standard grade, the cooking grade Matcha green tea is considerably lower in quality. The leaves used to make the cooking grade Matcha are much older and have a different flavor profile. That is why the cooking grade Matcha is used, of course, in cooking. It is usually a preferred ingredient in ice creams, Matcha cakes or cookies, as well as pancakes and cremas for other delicacies and beverages. Because this article is focused on the best Matcha tea, we won’t dwell too much on the cooking grade Matcha. However, we will provide you with some recommendations. If you want to try cooking with Matcha green tea, make sure to check the following brands out;
- Harney & Sons Matcha Jobetsugi (Thin Grade) – if you’re looking for an excellent Matcha powder to use in your cooking, look no further. The Harney & Sons cooking grade Matcha is probably best on the market. It has a great aroma, with hints of honeydew melon sweetness. It comes from air-dried plants and leaves there were ground between stones. Just like regular Matcha, this one also carries certain health benefits, as well as the beautiful and unique green color. It is also considerably lower in price than the Matchas aforementioned; it will cost you $14 per 30g.
- Aiya Organic Culinary Grade Matcha – this Matcha powder is specially blended for baking and other culinary purposes. It is usually used for Matcha lattes, smoothies as well as an addition to other healthy recipes. Even though it is a cooking grade Matcha, it is still high in quality, however, it has a much stronger flavor than Ceremonial Matcha for example. Either way, you will be getting your money’s worth; the Aiya Culinary Grade Matcha will cost you $24 per 100g, which is a great value.
Good Matcha vs. Bad Matcha – how to recognize?
Sometimes it is not easy to discern which Matcha green tea is the best, or which one you should not be buying. Sure, it is easier when you have certain recommendations. But, if you’re new to the world of Matcha green tea, we’re pretty sure all of it will be the same, green powder. So, if you want to be able to choose the best Matcha for yourself, we’ve got you covered. Here are some tips that can help you tell good Matcha green tea from the bad one;
- The Color
The color is a great starter in figuring out whether the Matcha you’re buying is good or bad. High-quality Matcha green tea powder will be vibrant, bright, at times almost neon green color. The brighter the powder, the better and younger the harvested leaves were, out of which the powder has been made. On the other hand, lower quality Matcha will have a yellowish or brownish-green color. If this is the color of the Matcha you’re looking at, it means either the powder contains stems and leaf veins, or that it was a late harvest. Moreover, high-quality Matcha powder is always finely ground. Sometimes even the price can be an indicator of quality, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be.
- The smell
Just like any tea, a good Matcha green tea powder will smell fresh, as if it was recently harvested and ground. So, if you’re buying Matcha green tea locally (because you can’t do this when buying online), make sure to smell the tea. If the tea smells delicate, vegetal and fresh, then it is good to go. On the other hand, if it has a stale aroma, reminding of old hay or dusty smell, then you should probably pass and look for a better Matcha powder. Sometimes, Matcha tea can even have a fishy smell; this happens because it has been exposed to humidity or heat, and indicates low quality of the tea.
- The taste
High-quality Matcha green tea has a complex, rich, aromatic and astringent taste. It usually has a sweet aftertaste and has a full-bodied flavor. It should be prepared traditionally, only whisked with hot water and enjoyed plain. If you’ve made your Matcha tea traditionally, and it made you spit it out, chances are the powder was of bad quality. Low-quality Matcha green tea usually has a bitter and unpleasant taste, meaning that it is also low in amino acids. Often, in good Matcha, the amino acids break and make the tea taste sweet. If your Matcha tea makes you spit it out and wash your mouth, then make sure to invest a little bit and buy some high-quality Matcha green tea.
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- More to know before buying
There are also other things you should know before actually buying your Matcha. For example; high-quality Matcha green tea is always harvested in Japan. Japanese Matcha green tea is the only one that meets the strict requirements and standards when it comes to the production of this tea.
Moreover, sometimes you will come across something known as powdered green tea, or powdered Sencha tea. The provider will probably claim it is Matcha green tea, but it is not; no other green tea, or any tea for that matter, is processed using the traditional Matcha production methods.
And, finally, make sure to always read the label thoroughly and carefully; the label should claim that the tea quality is premium, or that the leaves were hand-picked. Also, the label should only list Matcha green tea as the ingredient; if there are other ingredients listed, like sugar for example, then you should pass. Moreover, make sure to pay attention to the price.
Finding the best Matcha green tea can be hard. But, we hope that our little guide and recommendation list will help you choose the best for yourself. Matcha green tea, if high in quality and prepared properly, can be an exceptional thing for your mind and body. Its numerous health benefits, outstanding aroma, and taste will bring peace, harmony, and health to your life. So, don’t be afraid to spend a few extra bucks on high-quality Matcha tea; it will definitely be worth it. But, in order to do so, make sure to learn and educate yourself about Matcha; learn to spot the difference between high- and low-quality Matcha, and you should be good to go.