Matcha has been making waves and finding its place in modern dining concepts. The ingenuity of chefs churned out numerous matcha-inspired products such as patisseries, lattes and ice cream. Let's go deeper to understand what makes Matcha Matcha.
Matcha is synonymous with Japan. While many countries strive to replicate this fine green tea powder, the most authentic and best tastes originates from Japan. The processes in making Matcha had been honed over centuries and these contributed to the unique taste of Japanese Matcha.
Unlike any green tea powders, the leaves used in Matcha must be shaded for 20 days prior to harvest. Shading increases amino acids which is an ingredient to the good taste of Matcha. The leaves are then dried to produce Tencha and further milled into powder. The traditional method employed to produce ceremonial-grade Matcha is by stone-milling. The production rate is only 40grams per hour. This explains why true ceremonial-grade Matcha can cost a bomb. Today however, to satisfy the huge demand for Matcha, producers utilise machines to pulverise leaves into powder. This is typically used for most of the Matcha we find in cafes or supermarkets.
There are many grades of Matcha and it can be confusing to distinguish the good and bad. Commonly, we find labels such as culinary grade, daily grade or ceremonial grade. However, it can be misrepresented as there is no clear criteria for such labelings. Also, we may find Matcha being sold as "Matcha green tea powder". We need to be aware that such products may be a blend of Matcha and green tea powder so it may not be pure Matcha that we are purchasing.
We could tell the quality of Matcha through 2 attributes - colour and taste. The colour of Matcha stretches from dull yellow to bright green (something like leaf green). Yellow being the poorest quality and bright green being the best. On taste, the finest grade would have a higher proportion of umami and natural tea sweetness compared to bitterness while the lowest grade would taste flat with only sharp bitterness.
Relying on your senses is your best bet to getting authentic quality Matcha. With that, we hope you can enjoy this nutritious product from nature!
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