The finely-textured, bright green powder of shade-grown green tea, matcha, has earned a special place in the hearts of green tea aficionados. It bestows a wealth of health-promoting benefits to the body and comes with the flexibility of usage with several other ingredients and drinks for preparing exotic recipes. However, with the rise in popularity of matcha, low-grade, coarse green tea powder has already made its way to the markets. Needless to say, this low-grade matcha delivers a bland and gritty taste, and does nothing to improve your recipes or health. That is why, it’s of absolute importance to understand the different ways in which you can identify high-quality matcha powder and distinguish it from its low-grade counterpart.
Tips to Identify Top-Grade Matcha
#1: Check The Origin
Japan and China are the two major countries importing matcha green tea powder. However, it’s a widely stated fact that the finest quality of matcha comes from Japan. Two regions of Japan are majorly considered to be the best sources of this powder, despite the fact that matcha is produced in multiple regions. These two top producing areas in Japan are Nishio city and Uji city, Kyoto. These two places together account for a whopping 85% of all the matcha in Japan these days.
Just like other things in life, the quality of matcha depends upon its costs. So you basically get what you pay for. However, the price of quality matcha may vary. For example, a 25 gram tin of good-grade matcha may cost you up to $32, while anything cheaper than $25 usually falls in the low-quality range. You can definitely find a retailer that sells 100 grams for $12, but the difference will be significant- leaving an unpleasant taste in your mouth and giving you no value for your money at all.
#3 Take a Look at The Color
The typical color of matcha powder has to be bright green. The greener it is, the better the quality! Since matcha is grown in shady areas, the tea leaves are left with no choice but to produce their own chlorophyll, which, in turn, is responsible for imparting the nice, vibrant green color. Conversely, low-grade matcha is made up of leaves that haven’t been grown or shaded probably, or leaves that are older and harvested from the lower portion of the plant stalks. Therefore, the color of such leaves is yellowish or brownish and the powder is automatically less green.
#4 Check the Taste
Good grade matcha has a nice, sweet and vegetal flavor to it, which arises due to the presence of an amino acid called L-Theanine, a by-product of the shade growing process. This L-Theanine gives a pleasant, green tea taste to matcha. Low-quality matcha lacks L-Theanine and is thus strongly bitter and unpleasant to taste.
#5 Note the Texture
Pure, high-quality matcha has a silky texture and looks like a fine green color powder as compared to the typical leaf tea. You can understand the quality of matcha just by noting the feel and texture of its powder. Good grade matcha feels fine and silky, somewhat similar to the feel of makeup. Its particle size is roughly 10 microns so it’s as fine as baby powder. On the other hand, low-grade powder has a larger particle size, which invariably results in a coarse feel.