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How to choose your matcha

Not all matcha is created equal. Although it all comes from the same plant (Camellia sinensis), the various growing methods and harvesting times will drastically change the final product.

Here are some tips to help you choose the right one for you:

Think about the grade/harvest – Like wine, the quality of matcha is determined by terroir, cultivar (single or blend), cultivation process (hand or machine- picked), harvest (first, second or a blend) and process method (stone-milled or machine-pressed). There are generally two grades of matcha: ceremonial and premium. For matcha beginners, I recommend ceremonial matcha which would use leaves from the first flush which results in a richer, sweeter flavour of matcha tea.

Check the colour – High quality matcha typically results in a more vibrant, brilliant green so the greener, the better. This indicates the leaves were grown in shade, which is what gives matcha its superior health benefits. As a good rule, matcha that is sold in glass jars or clear plastic containers is a bad sign and even the highest quality matcha will quickly degrade if not properly packaged.

Trace its origin – Matcha is to Japan as Champagne is to France, therefore anything produced outside of Japan is often not monitored and may simply be powdered green tea. There are several highly reputed growing regions across Japan and SAYURI have partnerships with fields which are reliable, family owned for generations, and adhere to the traditional matcha growing, harvesting and processing methods. SAYURI farmers are artisans and take pride in the history, flavour, and quality of their teas.

Pick your flavour – Taste and smell are equally important indicators of a quality matcha. You should be able to enjoy a natural round sweetness due to a higher concentration of L-theanine, which also creates a savoury taste known as ‘umami’. Of course, products will vary a little in terms of the balance of umami, sweetness, and bitterness flavour profiles but your matcha should always be pleasant to drink with a fresh and grassy aroma. There should be little bitterness and no harsh robustness that lower grade matcha often has.

Consider the process – Purity and traceability are important for a quality matcha, as are the harvesting and grinding processes. If the texture of your matcha is gritty, there is a chance it may be a lower quality matcha that was ground by machine. Grinding that is too harsh or that creates too much heat will actually burn the tea leaves and increase its oxidation, resulting in low-grade matcha, regardless of its initial harvest. Incorrectly ground matcha won’t taste as creamy and smooth as slow, stone ground matcha.

Article seen in Luxuriate Life