Here, I am going to share with you the best way to buy a good quality Matcha, what criteria to use when choosing it and what you should expect from your online supplier. You may think, as I did, that just buying an organic ceremonial grade Matcha guarantees a good product, but as we shall discover there are reasons to dig a little deeper. Following is a list of the 6 ways I use to choose a good product:
Although it is possible to buy Matcha from China and Taiwan, without doubt the best quality Matcha comes from Japan. The 2 regions generally considered to be the best growing areas are around the city of Uji in Kyoto prefecture and Nishio city in Aichi prefecture. These two areas account for around 80% of the production of Matcha with ideal growing environments for green tea. Following the Fukushima disaster in 2011 it is important to find out if your choice of Matcha has been thoroughly radiation tested. As you can see from the infographic Japanese radiation testing is more rigorous than the EU’s but check to see if your preferred choice is given the all clear.
Matcha’s colour is a great way to sort the ‘chaff from the wheat’. Because Matcha is shade grown for the last 20 days prior to harvest it increases the amount of chlorophyll and antioxidants leading to a vibrant spring green colour. In other words the greener and more vivid the colour – the better. The best Matcha is picked from the highest and brightest leaves, sometimes even the tips of the leaves, is carefully de-veined and is gradually shaded during the last 20 days prior to harvest. Inferior quality is often not shaded and picked from lower down the bush and is yellower or more khaki in colour without that vibrant spring fresh green.
Mini-Quiz – You choose the best Matcha from the following images!
Well?, which one did you choose. I’ll give you my answer below!
Taste & Smell:
Sounds like a no-brainer, but as taste is a very subjective issue I’m not going to try and predict which Matcha is best for you, but rather like the a music afficianado who recommends a best listen to list I’ll attempt to guide you towards my favourite tastes.
A high quality well made Matcha has a smooth velvety feel in the mouth and shouldn’t be overly bitter or sweet. A dry, bitter, papery taste is an indication of lower quality matcha. The best Matcha will taste alive and fresh with a viscous, green tea flavour and gentle umami. Excellent Matcha will also have hints of nuttiness and cocoa butter. It will normally have a seaweedy smell or a freshly cut grass odour.
If you look at a good Matcha, as discussed before, it should be a very fine and silky powder resembling baby talc or Mascara. So if your powder is lumpy and not fine-grained, chances are it’s an inferior quality.
In general price is a good indicator of quality; ‘you get what you pay for!’, but with a wide selection of Matcha’s on the market in the UK and North America it pays to do your homework (I’m doing it for you here!). I usually go by the price for and ounce or 30g (1 ounce = 28.3495231 grams), or another weight as displayed on Amazon is price/100 gr. I then choose an Organic Ceremonial grade Matcha and checking out prices in the UK, they range from around £10 (Mighty Matcha) to £30 (Teasan). This is for the standard delivery size of 1 oz or 30g and is common to most suppliers.
I tend to go for a Matcha in the £15/oz bracket and my current tipple is from a very good supplier Teaologists which ticks all my boxes.
In the US prices range from around $15 to $50 but you can expect to buy a good quality Matcha for around $30. I will be reviewing Matcha’s on the US & Canadian Markets in upcoming posts, so watch this space!
So you expect your tea to be delivered on time with those little freebies, like an e-book, free whisk and maybe a bamboo measure to boot. But most of all you want a well packaged, fresh product that does what it says on the label. Bear in mind that Matcha is freshly picked in May and so ideally you don’t want to be buying last year’s batch, no matter how well it’s been stored, so stockists with a regular turnover and commitment to quality are essential. Additionally suppliers should be across their product, so I tend to go for Matcha or at least green tea specialists who know and love their product and offer good after sales service and promotions. To this end I am buying and researching different Matchas and suppliers – budget allowing – and will be giving my personal recommendations in upcoming posts.
Well here to which Matcha to choose from the mini-quiz above: Here’s the verdict!Number 1) DOMATCHA – £32.53/oz Origin: Japan, Kagoshima.
This is the best Matcha here as the price suggests. DoMatcha is packaged in a sealed tin can, inside is a sealed bag. The matcha is a beautiful vivid bright green in color. This means only the tips of the leaves were picked young from the top of the bush and then dried properly. It has a delicate freshly cut grass smell. After whisking, the Matcha is creamy and frothy (as good matcha should be). The taste is smooth, and like a dark chocolate melts on the tongue with a bittersweet tang.. DoMatcha isn’t cheap, but if you want top-notch Matcha, this is it. Rating – 9/10
2) PREMIUM ORGANIC MATCHA GREEN TEA POWDER – £21.99/oz Origin: Uji, Japan
This matcha from Uji in Kyoto prefecture comes in a small sealed bag, so ideally you want to transfer it to a dark airtight sealed can. The matcha is a bright green in colour and has a slight aroma of a sweet seaweed or cut grass. After whisking, it has plenty of bubbles and froth. The texture is again creamy and smooth, and the taste is slightly sweet and not as strong as DoMatcha. Overall, it’s a good value Matcha for the price. Rating – 8/10
3) MATCHA DNA CERTIFIED ORGANIC MATCHA TEA 3oz – £5.30/oz. Origin: China
As you can see from the picture this ‘Matcha’ has an olive green colour and good Matcha should be a bright vivid green. The likelihood is this Matcha is probably Sencha and not Matcha. Sencha is green tea which is not shaded 20 days prior to harvest and not de-veined,i.e. whole leaf and inferior quality. It has an earthy smell to it and after whisking, there is very little froth. The taste is very bitter, chalky and has an astringent aftertaste. Rating – 4/10
4) TRADITION PURE GREEN TEA POWDER MATCHA 8.8oz – £4.27/oz. Origin: Taiwan
This tea is definitely not Matcha, it’s lumpy in consistency and smells like old grass. The colour is a dark green and it tastes bitter and astringent – all the signs of it being whole leaf Sencha and not Matcha. Rating 2/10
5) VITA LIFE BRAND MATCHA GREEN TEA POWDER 10oz – £1.50/oz. Origin: Taiwan
This Matcha doesn’t come from Japan and although it has a dark green colour it is fairly vibrant. It comes in a good container with a sealed bag inside and a plastic teaspoon! So what about the taste – slightly vegetal with a not too bitter after taste. A pretty good economy pick for those on a budget. Rating – 5/10