There are so many Matcha green tea powders on the market! Do you understand how to choose the right Matcha for you? Here are useful topics and information on how to compare Matcha products.

Table of Contents

the REAL definition of Matcha

Is your Matcha real?

Do you truly know what Macha(抹茶) is? Is the Matcha in your hand REAL Matcha? …Maybe NOT! Shockingly, they say that the production volume of the Special Ingredient for Matcha and the volume of Matcha in the market are NOT the same amount!

If you think that Matcha is just “stone grounded fine green tea powder”, that is wrong! According to the Japan Tea Industry Federation, NOT all stone(or machine) grounded green tea powder is “Matcha”!

Matcha is a big trend these days but most of the people don’t know exactly what it is. Even some Japanese people may have the wrong information about that. So, I’ve looked up all information from professional Japanese resources and I’d like to share this trustable information with you!

Wondering the quality of the Matcha

the Only Ingredient of real Matcha

First of all, to make REAL Matcha, we are supposed to use only a special type of green tea leaf “Tencha(碾茶)”.

Tencha is a tea leaf that perfectly avoided direct sunlight for a certain term(at least 20 days) before harvest. At the tea fields, farmers usually have to cover up whole tea trees to make Tencha. That’s a lot of work! Now you understand one of the reasons why Matcha is so expensive.

avoid direct sunlight

(I don’t think farmers use umbrellas at the actual tea tree fields though….)

By avoiding direct sunlight, the nutrients in the tea leaves will change. Matcha is Theanine-rich and regular green tea is Catechin-rich. These differences effect their health benefits and flavors a lot. Matcha has some bitterness but it’s way sweeter than regular green tea.

And also, the rubbing process needs to be skipped to make Matcha. That process is necessary to make regular green tea only. Because that is a process to make tea leaves easier to extract components.

Anyway, the most important point is that only special green tea leaves “Tencha” can be the right ingredient of REAL Matcha.

Difference between Culinary Grade and Ceremonial Grade Matcha

In Japan, there is NO official Matcha grading system and each company can evaluate their product with their own criteria. In short, the grading standard is different in every company. So, when we compare 2 products between 2 different companies, we need to check the results of the annual competitive exhibitions.

However, when you buy Matcha outside of Japan, you’ll notice there are clearly 2 types of Matcha, Culinary Grade Matcha and Ceremonial Grade Matcha.

So, what’s the difference?

To find out, we compared 2 grades of Matcha from the same company.

Compare Culinary Grade Matcha and Ceremonial Grade Matcha

#1 Taste

Culinary Grade Matcha is bitter when compared to Ceremonial Grade Matcha.
Ceremonial Grade Matcha is sweeter than Culinary Grade Matcha.
Ceremonial Grade Matcha tastes mild and delicate.

 More details about differences of the taste between Culinary Grade and Ceremonial Grade

#2 Nutrients

Matcha contains more Theanine and less Catechin than regular green tea does.
I’m wondering if the reason Culinary Grade Mactcha is bitter is due to the fact that it contains less Theanine.

 What are Theanine and Catechin?

#3 Price

Ceremonial Grade Matcha usually costs double to triple the amount of Culinary Grade Matcha.

#4 Package

Ceremonial Grade Matcha is usually in a tin can with double lid. Culinary Grade Matcha is usually in a bag.

#5 Color

Ceremonial Grade Matcha is brighter green than Culinary Grade Matcha. You should pay attention not to buy items that contains the additives such as chlorella or food coloring!

#6 Texture

Culinary Grade Matcha is rougher than Ceremonial Grade Matcha. When you whisk Matcha green tea in traditional way, I could make fine creamy foam, but ONLY with Ceremonial Grade Matcha in this brand.

matcha foaming texture

In addition, they say that some products are being labeled as “Matcha”, but in truth they are simply “artificially colored green tea powder”! If you want to check whether it’s genuine Matcha or not, you can ask the maker the cultivation method of the tea leaves they are useing!

the Health Benefits of Matcha Green Tea

What are the Health Benefits of Matcha Green Tea?

Ceremonial Grade Matcha and Culinary Grade Matcha taste different. The higher quality Matcha tends to be sweeter and less bitter. The sweetness is deeply related to how much it contains a nuturient called “Theanine“.

Green tea leaves are naturally Theanine-rich. The majority of Theanine, however, will turn to Catechin as tea leaves grow under the sun. Thanks to the special process which is blocking direct sunlight before harvesting, only the tea leaves for Matcha stay Theanine-rich. This changes not only taste but also the Health Benefits of the Matcha.

According to Taiyo Kagaku Co.,Ltd.(太陽化学株式会社) which is a Research and Development type of company in Japan, the main effects of Theanine and Catechin are below.

Theanine VS Catechin

Health Benefits of Theanine

Theanine is a kind of Amino Acid.

Matcha is Theanine-rich. Culinary Grade Matcha possibly contains less Theanine due to the quality of the tea leaves. If you expect full effects of Theanine, I would recommend you get Ceremonial Grade Matcha.

Taste of Theanine:

  • Sweet

Main Effects of Theanine:

  • Increases Concentration
  • Relieves Tension
  • Increases Sleep Quality
  • Reduces Stress
  • Reduces PMS
  • Reduces Menopausal Symptoms

Health Benefits of Catechin

Catechin is a kind of Polyphenol.

Regular Green Tea is Catechin-rich. Culinary Grade Matcha possibly contains more Catechin than Ceremonial Grade Matcha.

Taste of Catechin:

  • Bitter

Main Effects of Catechin: 

  • Promote Skin Regeneration
  • Promote Lipid Metabolism (help to burn fat)
  • Balance the PH of the Intestine
  • Prevents Flu
  • Reduces Bad Breath
  • Reduces Stuffy Nose

Please choose the right grade of Matcha green tea or regular green tea by the health benefits.

In addition to that, if you are interested ONLY in the effects of Catechin, you don’t have to waste any money for expensive Matcha. Just buy “Powdered Green Tea”.

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References:

  • Japan Tea Industry Federation(公益社団法人日本茶業中央会)
    http://www.nihon-cha.or.jp/
  • Chamber of Kyoto Prefecture Tea Public Interest Incorporated Association(公益社団法人 京都府茶業会議所)
    http://www.ujicha.or.jp/
  • Maruyama Tea Products Corporation(丸山製茶)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSTYpD7ESfs
  • Kogetsuen(香月園)
    http://www.t4u.co.jp/index.html
  • Marukyu-Koyamaen (丸久・小山園)
    http://www.marukyu-koyamaen.co.jp/index.html
  • Taiyo Kagaku Co.,Ltd.(太陽化学株式会社)
    http://www.taiyokagaku.com/health/
  • Itohen(伊藤園)
    http://www.ocha.tv/components_and_health/benefits_greentea/theanine/