Matcha green tea is one of the biggest health trends in 2016. But are all brands of Matcha tea the same? Home Health Living has researched some of the best Matcha green tea powder brands currently on the market. We found that not all Matcha is the same, and that its authenticity can be difficult to determine.
What is the best matcha tea powder?
Home Health Living has compiled a list of the best matcha tea powder brands and have included a review of each one. This will help you decide which is the best matcha tea to buy for your needs, whether for tea drinking or for cooking purposes. As a general rule, we recommend organic whenever possible.
Best matcha green tea review: ceremonial grade
Epic Matcha’s ceremonial-grade green tea powder is organically grown in Uji which is south east of Kyoto, Japan. The organic matcha leaves are hand-picked to ensure that they retains the highest ceremonial grade. The tea is USDA certified organic. Also included is a free recipe PDF with over 37 recipes featuring matcha tea. Epic is a small, family-run business based in the U.S.
Matcha Green Tea Powder – Organic Ceremonial Grade Matcha – Shade Grown in Japan for a Unique Flavor
Kiss Me Organic’s matcha green tea powder is certified organic and is sourced from an organic farm in Japan’s Shizuoka provence. The leaves undergo a 3-week shading process. Note that this brand was previously sourced from China up until 2014, but is now sourced from Japan.
uVernal’s matcha green tea powder is ceremonial grade and certified organic. It comes in a 2 ounce tin, which equals around 24 servings. Included with your purchase is a free e-book featuring 50 recipes containing matcha tea. It will be emailed to you after purchasing the matcha green tea.
Best Matcha Green Tea Powder Culinary Grade
100% certified organic USDA
10 oz pack
Kiss Me Organics
100% certified organic USDA & JAS
From Shizuoka, Japan
4 oz pack
100% certified organic USDA
16 oz pack
MatchaDNA’s matcha green tea powder is USDA certified organic, and it is sourced from the Fujian province in China. It is certified organic to USDA and EU standards. The vacuum-packed, BPA-free certified pouches contain 10 ounces of matcha tea, making this product great value for money.
Kiss Me Organic’s organic culinary grade matcha green tea powder is certified 100% organic by the USDA and is also certified kosher. The matcha tea is sourced from China. It comes in 4 ounces and is packaged in an aluminium bag that is BPA-free and features a resealable zipper pouch.
Healthworks’ Matchaworks matcha green tea powder is 100% certified organic by the USDA and is sourced from China. It comes in a 16 ounce bag, which is great value for money.
What is Matcha Tea?
Matcha is a finely ground green tea powder that originated in China but has become well known for being popular in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. Its health benefits include being a great source of antioxidants and energy, while also helping with weight loss and improved skin.
Origins of Matcha Green Tea Powder
Most green tea plants grown for matcha come from the famous tea gardens in the Uji and Shizuoka prefectures in Japan. But, all green and black teas originated from China. A Japanese monk brought ground tencha tea with him back to Japan after spending time in China.
Matcha green tea became part of the traditional Japanese tea ceremonies in the 16th century. Its popularity died down in China, and so the Chinese moved onto other types and methods of tea making, such as the green teas that we all know and love.
The Chinese started producing matcha green tea powder again, but only about 15 years ago when demand for green tea products began to increase. The Chinese understood that a ceremonial quality matcha green tea was not required when it was used in cooking.
And so Chinese growers began to use some of the traditional Japanese growing and harvesting methods to try to produce their own version of matcha powder. Culinary grade matcha powder was created to be used in cooking.
There is a market for both ceremonial grade and culinary grade matcha green tea powder.
Although green tea is common throughout the world, matcha green tea is grown slightly differently. Green tea plants grown for matcha, which are known as tencha tea plants, are shade-grown for three weeks prior to being harvested.
The Japanese grow their tea plants using one of two distinctly Japanese methods: sun-grown methods where the plants are grown in full sun for its entire growing season. The other is shade-grown, where the tea bushes are shaded for 3-4 weeks before harvest.
Shading tea plants is only used on plants that are for high-grade ceremonial teas. Matcha is the most expensive ceremonial tea.
Why is it important to shade the tencha tea plants?
Because keeping them in the shade increases the chlorophyll in the plants, and reduces the naturally occurring photosynthesis in the plant’s leaves. In other words, plants use the sun and chlorophyll to make its own food, through the process of photosynthesis. The chlorophyll absorbs the sun’s energy, which is needed by the plant.
There are different views as to why shading plants increases chlorophyll– it could be due to the plant increasing its chlorophyll in order to maximise the energy from the minimal amount of light while in the shade, or it could be because the reduced photosynthesis means that the chlorophyll levels are not depleted.
After harvest, the leaves are steamed and dried, and then the stems and veins are removed from the leaves. Following this, the leaves are ground into fine powder that is referred to as ceremonial grade matcha powder.
The specific and complex growing and harvesting techniques have made matcha tea powder into something that is cherished by the Japanese. Unfortunately for the rest of us, it is what makes matcha tea powder so damn expensive to buy! Only about 2% of Japanese matcha tea powder is exported.
Differences between Chinese and Japanese Sourced Matcha
Matcha green tea and regular green tea are two completely different types of tea. They have a different taste, due to the differences in soils in China and Japan.
It is believed that the Chinese do not use the shading process when growing their tencha plants, and they also pan-fry the leaves rather than steam and dry them like the Japanese do. This may explain the differences in color and texture.
Furthermore, it was reported back in 2006 that green tea grown in China contained high levels of radiation and were treated with pesticides that have been banned by the Stockholm Convention. This has caused some consumers to be wary of matcha sourced from China, although the USDA does certify certain brands of Chinese sourced matcha as being organic.
Some consumers are also concerned about Japanese sourced matcha. Certain consumers worry that radiation levels in Japan following the earthquake that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power plant could make matcha green tea powder from Japan unsafe. However, the radiation only affected certain areas of Japan. It is recommended that you source your matcha green tea powder from the Uji or Yame regions which have not been affected.
Again, the USDA has certified many Japanese sourced matcha brands as being organic.
Culinary Grade Matcha Green Tea Powder
As mentioned before, the Chinese realised that they could try to replicate the Japanese matcha green tea powder and could still successfully export it as culinary grade.
Culinary grade matcha powder is used for cooking purposes. It is used in making a matcha green tea smoothie, matcha green tea latte and matcha ice cream, which is a popular flavour of ice-cream in Japan and other countries in East Asia.
A characteristic of the culinary grade is its bitterness. However, when mixing culinary grade matcha powder with other ingredients, the bitterness is disguised.
On the other hand, culinary grade matcha green tea powder is unsuitable for drinking as a tea or use in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
When making tea from matcha powder, especially ceremonial tea, the tea needs to foam. This does not occur when using culinary grade matcha green tea powder.
There is a common misconception that all culinary grade matcha powders are of low quality and should not be used.
Using culinary grade matcha green tea powder does have its benefits. The bitterness of the culinary grade makes it perfect for use in cooking. If you were going to use ceremonial grade in a cooking recipe, you would need far more ceremonial grade matcha than you would culinary grade matcha. This is not cost effective and would quickly create a hole in your wallet!
Culinary grade matcha is bitter for a reason: the bitterness of the matcha goes well with the flavors of the other ingredients it is paired with in recipes, such as sugar and milk.
But even within different brands of culinary grade matcha, the quality can differ. Culinary grade matcha should still have a somewhat vibrant green color and should be soft and fine. If not, it is a poor quality culinary grade matcha! A high quality culinary grade matcha is still just on par with a high quality ceremonial grade matcha- the only difference is the two grades are used for different purposes.
Ceremonial Grade Matcha Green Tea Powder
Ceremonial grade matcha green tea powder is much softer and finer, and has a pleasant taste when it is mixed with hot water and drunk as tea. It has a pleasant green tea flavour.
However, the ceremonial grade’s qualities means that it is far more expensive to purchase than the culinary grade. Most consumers who regularly consume matcha green tea use the culinary grade due to budget purposes, and would use it in recipes rather than simply drinking it as tea.
Where can I buy matcha green tea powder?
You might be wondering where you can buy matcha green tea powder, and how can you be sure of its quality?
The best place to buy matcha online is through Amazon, as there are many different brands available and customer reviews which will help you make the right decision.
There are a number of brands currently advertising their products on Amazon, as well as on their own websites. Some brands on Amazon offer a subscription service where you receive regular packs of matcha green tea at a special price.
Some suppliers have changed their matcha source over the years- many have stopped sourcing from China but now source from Japan. Some claim that the Chinese-sourced powder has been tested for quality, however many consumers are not confident in such quality testing given China’s history of poor food quality and safety standards.
And not all matcha green tea powder brands sourced from Japan are ceremonial grade- the Japanese now also export culinary grade matcha green tea powder.
Recipes Using Matcha Green Tea Powder
Matcha green tea powder can be used in a number of different ways, and not just drinking it as a traditional tea. Here are some links to recipes featuring the powerful antioxidant.
Matcha tea doesn’t have to be hot- here’s a great recipe if you’re looking for a refreshing, but still super healthy, drink.
Perfect for a decadent afternoon tea treat is this matcha coconut cake. Coeliacs will be happy to know this recipe is gluten-free.
These look so good, how could you resist giving them a try? They’re low in sugar but high in protein.
Perfect for a summer’s day is this chilled slushy which is an antioxidant powerhouse!
Do you drink matcha green tea or use the powder in any recipes? What do you think of matcha green tea? Have you noticed any health benefits? Let us know in the comments!