Best Matcha Tea Powder – A Complete Matcha Buyer’s Guide
This matcha buyers guide will teach you everything you need to know about matcha so you can ensure you choose the best matcha powder and enjoy many matcha health benefits.
When looking for the best matcha green tea powder to buy there are a few important questions to keep in mind. These questions are:
- What is your budget?
- What are using the matcha for?
- Are the health benefits important to you?
We have written two free Matcha eBooks – a 14 page “About Matcha” ebook and a 30 page “Matcha Recipes” ebook. You can email yourself these for free in the box to the right.
Best Matcha Powder To Buy- What Are The Properties of Good Quality Matcha Tea?
Buying the best matcha powder- do you know what to look for? Here are nine matcha properties to consider.
- Country of Origin: Japan has perfected the matcha production process and is known for producing the highest quality matcha tea in the world. Japan has incredibly strict farming standards and practices. This ensures that the soil is extremely clean which produces matcha that is free of heavy metals. We source our matcha powder from Uji, Kyoto which has a reputation for producing some of Japans best matcha tea. Other popular regions are Shizuoka, Kagoshima, Mie, Nara, and Saitama.
- Colour: Look for matcha tea that is a vibrant green which indicates that it is fresh and contains high levels of chlorophyll. In the final weeks before matcha is harvested the tea plantation is shaded which increases the level of chlorophyll within the tea leaves. This gives matcha its vibrant green colour.
- Taste: The best matcha powder should have a taste which is balanced between natural sweetness and a vegetal, grassy taste. It should be pleasant to drink with only a slight bitterness. It is the amino acid “L-Theanine” which gives matcha it’s unique flavour. Low-quality matcha can be extremely bitter and indicates a low amino acid content.
- Smell: Similar to taste, the amino acid L-theanine gives matcha a slightly sweet, fresh, grassy and green smell.
- Texture: Often referred to as “mouth-feel” higher quality matcha tea should be fine with a small particle size and easily suspend itself in water when you mix it. This gives matcha tea a smooth feeling in your mouth when you drink it. Low-quality matcha can be coarse and gritty.
- Purity: Matcha should only contain green tea leaves with no added ingredients like sugar. Matcha has incredible health benefits but if your matcha is mixed with sugar or other ingredients than it is likely to be disguising low-quality matcha and as a result not deliver all the antioxidants, amino acids, and nutrients.
- Price: Matcha is the “champagne” of green tea and high-quality matcha has a higher price tag. Be wary of any brands who claim their matcha is “ceremonial” or “premium” but their price is very low. It is highly likely they are selling you low-grade matcha without the health benefits. Read our grade outline below for a price guide.
- Packaging: Ensure your matcha is packaged in a way that limits it’s exposure to air and light. Both air and light oxidize the enzymes in matcha which degrades its quality, causes bitterness, a duller colour and will impact the health properties of the matcha. Our Zen Green Tea matcha, for example, is packaged in an airtight, opaque and resealable bag which maintains the freshness of the matcha and allows our customers to push the air out every time they reseal it.
- Supply Chain: This one is harder to check but the best matcha suppliers will have an extremely tight supply chain which ensures matcha is as fresh as possible when it reaches the customer. For example, at Zen Green Tea all of our matcha is “ground to order”. We order in small batches which are ground fresh by our factory in Japan and then immediately shipped to us. We keep minimal inventory balances and refresh stock every couple of months. As a result, our customers enjoy a very short supply chain and therefore fresher matcha that maintains its full health benefits. Larger companies or businesses that sell more than just matcha cannot often have this short supply chain in place meaning your matcha might be older.
Matcha Green Tea Powder Grades
Matcha green tea powder is categorized broadly into three main grades. The grade depends on the position of the leaf on the plant and also the blend that the leaf has been sorted into.
All matcha tea is a blend of tea leaves which may come from a variety of tea farms in a region. After the tea leaves are picked they are immediately steamed to lock in their enzymes. Once steamed the tea leaves are sorted into a blend based on the colour, aroma and flavour profile.
The freshest and youngest leaves are close to the top of the tea plant and form the higher quality blends. The leaves from the base of the tea plant are usually reserved for culinary matcha.
It’s important to note that there is no governing body to regulate the use of grades by different companies. Many companies might say “ceremonial grade” but they are actually selling premium or culinary. Ensure you educate yourself on matcha properties in the information above and be wary of any price that is lower than they guide we’ve offered below.
Best Matcha Tea: Three Main Grades
Ceremonial Matcha: This is the highest grade of matcha made from the top tea leaves in the tea plant. It is used mainly for traditional Japanese tea ceremonies because of its high cost. The tea leaves always come from the first harvest of the year. The taste can be quite strong. This matcha is good for a “special occasion” or those who like a very strong matcha flavour. Price Guide: Often sold as 30 grams for $30- 50 or 60 grams: $60-100.
Premium Grade Matcha: This is the grade we have chosen for our Zen Green Tea matcha. Premium grade contains the highest health benefits as the leaves are often taken from the second harvest which has higher levels of catechins. The taste is lighter and naturally sweet. The price is affordable for daily consumption. Price Guide: Often sold as 60 Grams for $24-34. (Our Premium Grade is $24.60 for 60 grams and $64 for 180 grams).
Culinary Matcha: This grade is comprised of tea leaves closer to the bottom of the tea plant. The texture of the matcha is often more coarse and the flavour will be more bitter. This matcha will not provide the full health benefits because it contains less antioxidants, chlorophyll and amino acids. This matcha is good if you are looking to use it for baking and are not concerned with the health benefits. Price Guide: $8-19 for 60 grams
Organic Matcha VS Non-Organic Matcha
This is often a topic of much confusion which we hope to clear up with the information provided below.
The highest quality matcha in Japan is most often non-organic because non-organic matcha farming produces tea leaves that contain more health benefits.
In the final weeks before the tea leaves are picked, the tea plants are covered with a shade cloth which limits the amount of sun that reaches the tea leaves. As a result, the tea plant produces more chlorophyll and a strong amino acid structure which turbocharges the matcha health benefits and provides the vibrant green and subtle, sweet taste.
During this period of shading, the tea plants need additional nutrients in the soil to give them the support they need to produce their health benefits. Without the added nutrients in the soil the matcha will be more bitter and will not contain the high levels of antioxidants and amino acids.
Furthermore; Japan has the strictest enforced agricultural laws in the world – the standards that Japanese farms have to meet are more strict than the USA and the EU. Japanese limits on pesticide/ herbicide use are the lowest in the world, around 1mg per kilogram of tea leaves. This level is so low that in tests it is difficult to differentiate between organic and non-organic tea leaves.
The third factor to consider is supporting family-run Japanese tea farms. Organic certification in Japan for tea farms is very expensive while operating an organic farm is labour intensive and prohibitive for family run tea farmers. It is usually reserved for large corporate farms.
Based on the above reasons we have decided that our Zen Green Tea matcha should be non-organic where we ensure it contains the maximum health benefits and we support small, family-run tea farms. We have tested organic matcha in the past but we found the taste was more bitter, the cost for our customers would be much higher and the matcha degraded more quickly over time.
So, what’s the best matcha green tea powder for you?
If taste, and health benefits are important to you then you should only buy premium grade and above. These grades use the best quality tea leaves and are therefore packed with the full antioxidant content with a smooth, non-bitter taste. Ensure that your matcha comes from Japan, fits within the price guide we provided above and has the characteristics of quality that we outlined above.
If you want value for your money than our premium matcha is the best value in Australia at $24.50 for 60 grams (60 serves) and free shipping. We also have value bundles when you buy Three Month or Six Month Supplies which works out to just $22 and $20 per packet.
If you are baking with matcha you might consider an ingredient/cooking grade. However given the low difference in cost and better taste, colour and nutritional value most of our customers still prefer to use a premium grade (especially for raw smoothies, and unbaked goods).
Still curious? Why not email yourself our two FREE ebooks – “About Matcha” and “Matcha Recipes”.
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