Matcha green tea powder is the king of all teas and is an energy booster, calorie burner and natural detoxifier.
You probably know green tea but matcha has a unique set of characteristics. Unlike any other tea, matcha is ground to powder. The different grades of matcha green tea are determined by several factors:
Matcha powder actually originated in China and was brought to Japan in the 12th century. While matcha was losing popularity in China, in Japan it was first the drink of Zen monks and Samurai and is nowadays popular with everyone and available on every corner in Japan available as a tea, ice cream and in baked goods. Matcha has been cultivated consistently for 800 years whereas Chinese producers have re-entered the market only about 15 years ago. Chinese farmers don't typically grow their tea plants shaded or air-dry the leaves after stemming. This results in a duller color and a bland taste.
To put it simply, matcha is like many things in life (think of wine)– you get what you pay for. But the price of quality matcha can vary. Typically, a 30 gram tin of ceremonial-grade ranges between EUR 30 and EUR 40; anything below that price range is usually in the lower-quality range. You can certainly find 100 grams for EUR 15, but the difference will be noticeable – leaving a bad taste in the mouth both figuratively and literally.
Matcha is known for its vibrant green color. The greener the better. The green is all natural and comes through shading the tea plant which leads to a higher production of chlorophyll. Lower quality matcha often has a yellowish/brownish hue, meaning it was not properly shaded, has oxidized and/or was harvested from the lower stalk of the plant.
High-quality matcha has an aromatic, fresh, sweet grassy smell which comes from the high amounts of the amino acid L-Theanine. Lower grades of matcha or oxidized matcha smell a bit like hay (or even worse fishy) and stale.
Matcha has a very distinctive taste. It is slightly astringent, with sweet undertones, called umami. 'Umami' is considered the fifth taste (besides sweetness, bitterness, sourness and saltiness) in Japan and originated from the words 'umai' (delicious) and "mi"(taste), which perfectly summarizes the taste of matcha. A low-quality matcha will taste unpleasantly bitter.
With our 5 easy tips you should be able to identify a matcha you'll enjoy drinking.