Matcha green tea powder is a refreshing alternative to traditional tea, a bright green elixir that’s packed with antioxidants that enhance your mood, health and energy level.
You’re probably already familiar with green tea, but matcha has a distinct character that provides a uniquely potent profile of nutrients. Unlike traditional tea – it’s a powder rather than loose leaves or tea bags. There are several different “grades” of matcha green tea powder, which are determined by the quality of the appearance, processing method and ingredients used:
- The color of the tea
- The texture, quality and density
- The quality of the product – is it stem or is it leaves?
- The fineness of the powder
- Whether there has been any prolonged exposure to oxygen
- How it was ground up
- Treatment prior to processing
All these qualities help determine the grade of the green tea powder, which can be separated into two main categories: ceremonial grade and culinary grade. Read more about the history for matcha green tea and its origins.
CEREMONIAL GRADE MATCHA GREEN TEA POWDER
Sipped for centuries in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, ceremonial grade matcha is the highest quality green tea powder available. This premium grade is vibrant green in color, with a very delicate taste and extremely fine texture. Ceremonial grade matcha is made from the youngest tea leaves, with the stems and veins entirely removed. The leaves are stone-ground, which makes the matcha suitable for a thick-style tea. Thanks to its bright green color, it can easily be recognized from the other tea grades.
Blended exclusively for whisking with hot water and drinking on its own, ceremonial grade matcha should be consumed straight. Just as in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, it should not be mixed with sweeteners or other ingredients.
This premium matcha has a naturally sweet, mild flavor that is smothered by the addition of milk, sugar, chocolate or soy products. The delicate nuances of this high quality tea are best enjoyed pure, and mixed only with hot water.
Color, Smell & Texture
Use all your senses to appreciate the fine nature of ceremonial grade matcha. This bright green, talc-like powder should smell fresh and slightly grassy. It should never feel coarse or gritty, and its hue should always be a brilliant green.
You’ll need about one half-teaspoon of ceremonial grade matcha for every cup (8 ounces) of hot water. Be sure to whisk your beverage thoroughly. Using this premium grade for cooking and baking is not recommended. You wouldn’t make a pasta sauce with an expensive bottle of wine – and you don’t want to cook with ceremonial grade matcha, either. Besides being cost prohibitive, the refined features of this exquisite blend will be lost amongst your other ingredients.
Here’s a video on how to prepare matcha tea, the traditional way.
CULINARY GRADE MATCHA GREEN TEA POWDER
The second main category of matcha is culinary grade, which is most often used for cooking and baking. It’s also fine to drink culinary matcha, which is still a very high quality tea, just with a slightly different flavor profile than ceremonial grade matcha. Culinary grade matcha isn’t necessarily a lower quality product, it’s just prepared differently for a different use – and it features different characteristics.
Culinary grade matcha is specifically blended for use with other ingredients in recipes for food and beverages. It’s enhanced flavor profile pairs perfectly with other flavors, creating delicious green tea lattes, matcha smoothies and green tea based baked goods.
Featuring a more robust flavor than ceremonial grade matcha, the culinary grade is slightly less sweet, with more bitter notes.
Color, Smell & Texture
This matcha should smell grassy and fresh, and feel soft and smooth – never gritty or coarse. It may look less vibrantly green than ceremonial grade matcha, but it should still possess a noticeably green color.
You’ll need to use a little more of this matcha green tea powder to make a beverage. Mix one to two teaspoons of culinary grade matcha into every cup (8 ounces) of hot water. Most cooking and baking recipes will call for one to two tablespoons of the powder. You can also drink culinary grade matcha mixed with hot water; however it will taste best with a little added sweetener.
The 5 Types of Culinary Grade Matcha Green Tea Powder
Culinary grade matcha powder can be further broken down into five main sub-types: premium, café, ingredient, kitchen and classic.
1. Premium Grade
Premium grade matcha tea is ideal for everyday consumption, from a morning latte to an afternoon matcha smoothie. Compared to ceremonial grade matcha tea, premium grade is a very good blend at a slightly lower price. This makes it an excellent choice for everyday use. Premium grade matcha tea has a very fine texture, which breaks up easily in water. It is slightly less vibrant green than ceremonial grade matcha, but don’t let the color fool you – it’s just as satisfying. This is the type of Culinary Grade matcha that Epic Matcha offers. Read more about how we source our matcha.
2. Café Grade
Made with less delicate leaves than ceremonial and premium grade matchas, café grade matcha offers an extremely strong flavor – perfect for cooking and baking. It’s one of the more expensive types of matcha powder, and you can tell it apart from the lower grades by its unique green color. Café grade matcha tea has a fine texture that blends well, whether you are making a cool green tea smoothie or warm matcha cappuccino.
3. Ingredient Grade
Ingredient grade matcha tea is an excellent choice for recipes that contain milk and other dairy products. Use it to make green tea ice cream, a matcha smoothie, or matcha latté. Because of its thick consistency, it works well when added to sauces and desserts. Prevent lumps in your recipes by stirring the matcha well, preferably with a whisk.
4. Kitchen Grade
Kitchen grade matcha tea is one of the most economical brands, and is made with less delicate leaves than the other grades. It has a strong astringent flavor that makes it perfect for large-scale brewing and mixed into other foods. Not quite as fine as the other types of matcha powder, kitchen grade matcha tea is a bit darker in color and usually sold in larger bulks. This matcha is ideal for experimenting with new recipes and getting creative in the kitchen.
5. Classic Grade
Classic grade matcha tea is an enjoyable blend with an excellent economic value. It’s one of the higher grades but usually costs less than the other grades. Classic grade matcha has a strong and distinct flavor, which lends itself to many uses – and it is more widely available compared to other matcha teas.