Not all matcha is created equal. Depending on how its grown, how its been stored and where it comes from, there's a wide range of tastes associated with matcha, from good, to bad. Here are a few tips when shopping for matcha to help you determine the quality.
Color: Look for matcha that has a rich, deep green color. Typically, the deeper the shade of green is, the higher the quality of matcha. Ceremonial grade matcha is known for its vivid green color, while culinary matcha, reserved for cooking and baking applications, has a pale green color. With that said, even high quality matcha that's been exposed to light and air, overtime, will begin to oxidize and turn yellow. We recommend drinking matcha quickly to ensure optimal freshness.
Smell: When added to water, does it smell fresh? Or does it smell like stale, dry hay? Your nose is always a good indicator of quality so trust your instinct. If something smells off it probably is. Quality matcha smells smooth and pleasant, with buttery vegetal notes.
Taste: Culinary grade matcha can taste very bitter, dry or even musky, without much depth or complexity to its flavor profile. Depending on where the matcha is grown, how it's grown, and the type of cultivar, high grade, or ceremonial grade matcha is classified by it's rich umami, complex flavor profile, and deep, buttery vegetal notes. Our matcha reserve is characterized by its almost chocolate-like nutty undertones.
Origin: Although matcha can be grown in different countries, we believe the best matcha comes from Japan. Specifically, ceremonial grade from the Uji region is considered the best, since it's the birthplace of the Japanese tea ceremony.
Shelf Life: Since matcha is a stone-ground green tea, the leaves can oxidize quickly due to the higher surface area. Oxidation, turns vivid green matcha yellow, and the flavor starts to turn flat, and bitter. How long the matcha was stored is important to know - old matcha is not going to taste as good as fresh matcha. Keeping matcha away from air and light helps reduce the rate of oxidation. If you are looking for more tips on how to store matcha long-term, read more HERE.
Price: Unfortunately, some companies distribute low quality matcha and use terms such as "ceremonial grade" on the packaging, when it is not. Just because matcha is a higher price, doesn't always mean it's higher quality. True ceremonial grade matcha that's hand-picked will be higher in price, due to the cost of labor and more care that goes into growing the tea leaves. Machine-picked leaves, such as our premium matcha, end up costing much less to produce, which result in a lower price point to our customers.
Following these simple tips can help ensure you have a pleasant matcha experience. If you ever have any matcha questions, don't hesitate to reach out to us!