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Last Updated on September 29, 2022 by Scott
Matcha has become a popular choice of beverage in recent years around the world, especially in the west. This green tea offers a much higher amount of antioxidants when compared to coffee or other teas, but a common question is, how can you tell if the matcha is of high quality?
When it comes to identifying good quality matcha, a few easy steps can help you in your search. The most significant identifier of high-quality matcha is the color of the powder, as ceremonial matcha should be a vivid green color.
In this article we discuss how to tell if matcha is of a high standard. So keep reading! We have everything you need to know about identifying high-quality matcha.
How to Identify Good Quality Matcha
Matcha is a finely ground powder made from processed green tea leaves and is traditionally used in East Asia. Over the recent decades, it has increased in popularity among western consumers, who are trying to cut out their coffee addiction and switch to something with higher antioxidant levels, yet still a good amount of caffeine.
When it comes to identifying high-quality matcha, the first thing you want to look at is the color of the powder.
Ceremonial matcha will come as a rich and deep vivid green color, whereas culinary matcha will typically be a pale green color.
Although you should be aware that matcha that’s been exposed to the elements such as air and light will start to turn yellow due to oxidation, thus, it’s recommended to drink your matcha before it begins to turn yellow as this ensures optimal freshness.
Tips on Finding Great Quality Matcha
If you’re curious as to whether or not the matcha you’ve picked up is of high quality or not, there are a few tips that can help you identify high-quality matcha besides its color. These are listed below:
A taste test is a great way to differentiate these two and distinguish high-quality matcha from its lower-quality culinary counterpart. It can have very distinct tastes depending on where the matcha is grown and the type of cultivator.
The matcha used in culinary dishes is often very bitter when tasted and can have a dry or musky taste with no complex flavor. Whereas when it comes to high-grade or ceremonial matcha, it will have a much more pleasant, buttery, deep, and vegetal taste.
Your nose is often a good indicator of the quality of all products, and it’s the same with matcha. High-grade or ceremonial matcha can be identified through a smell test if you know what you’re looking for. High-grade matcha will not have a dry smell, nor will it smell stale.
Ceremonial or high-grade matcha will smell relatively smooth and buttery, with hints of a vegetal nature that are pleasant to the nose.
Like everything else, some brands will try to sell you low-quality matcha, advertised as high-quality ceremonial matcha. But you should remember that just because something is expensive doesn’t mean it’s as good as an alternative brand.
The price of authentic ceremonial grade matcha is much higher due to the manual labor involved, such as the hand picking of the leaves. At the same time, machine-picked leaves can cost a lot less and can be considered high or ceremonial grade. So do a little research on the brand you choose to go for, as this can increase your chances of choosing high-quality matcha.
While matcha grown anywhere can be of a high quality, some experts believe that the best and highest grade of matcha comes from Japan.
Ceremonial-grade matcha grown in the Uji region is often considered of the highest quality. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as it is where the Japanese tea ceremony originated.
Matcha is produced through a stone-ground method; thus, the tea leaves can quickly oxidize. This will force the vivid green matcha to turn a yellow color, and the flavor will taste flat and slightly bitter.
It’s important to consider how long high quality matcha powder will last. So if your matcha has a very long shelf life, it may have additional ingredients mixed into the powder to give it longer shelf life. This also points out that fresh matcha is the best time to enjoy it, as once it starts to oxidize, it’s certainly no longer considered high grade.
Reviews & Links to out Recommended High Quality Matcha Brands
- FULL REVIEW: Matcha Kari
- FULL REVIEW: Ippodo Tea Review
- FULL REVIEW: Kama Matcha
- FULL REVIEW: Material Matcha Uji
So, now you know everything about differentiating high-quality matcha from lower-quality culinary matcha; this will help you ensure a pleasant matcha drinking experience.
Scott is the founder of TeaMinded. He enjoys tasting and discovering teas from across the globe, with green teas and ceremonial matcha from Japan being among his favorites. He’s grateful to be immersed in the tea community, always learning and sharing along the journey.