But what does matcha tea taste like? Well, when whisked together with water, the powder creates a very rich, fragrant, and smooth green tea with loads of delicious umami flavour and a complex, grassy sweetness that has a lasting aftertaste.
Its unique taste comes from the way it’s crafted. The leaves are shaded, picked and stone-milled, resulting in a fine matcha powder with vivid flavour and a vibrant green colour.
As well as this distinct flavour, Matcha is also popular due to its high levels of naturally occurring chemical compounds, such as L-Theanine and Caffeine. In combination these compounds can help to create a state of calm-focus from drinking this tea, something that Buddhist monks would use to help their long periods of meditation.
How matcha tea should taste & what to look for
Grades: There are many grades of matcha out there, from ceremonial to ‘grand crus’, latte grade to culinary-grade. A lot of these terms are clever ways of marketing lower quality matcha for specific uses. There are better ways of determining how good a certain matcha should be, but if you’re looking out for grades then we’d recommend sticking to ‘ceremonial’ grade only, as these are typically higher quality matcha.
Colour: The colour of matcha is indicative of its quality and freshness. The best matcha should be a vivid green, almost luminous and very bright. Watch out for any matcha that has gone a stale yellow or even an oxidised brown as these are signs it will not taste good at all.
Texture: For the highest quality matcha, look for those that have an extremely fine texture. The best matcha are stone-milled laboriously for hours until each particle is only microns thick – finer than a human hair.
Taste: Matcha should be creamy and sweet with an invigorating sensation. You may find a tiny hint of bitterness if you are not used to green tea especially, but this will quickly transform into a sweet, even floral taste, with an underlying umami-savoury quality. The fragrance should also be clear, grassy-sweet and inviting. Watch out for any matcha that is flat and dull with an undeveloped taste of bitterness. This will mean the powder is old, stale or low-quality.
Origin: The best matcha comes from Japan, so make sure you look out for the origin of your matcha and especially the cultivar or blend of cultivars that make up the powder, as this can tell you so much about what to expect from its flavour. For example, our JING Organic Matcha is produced in Kirishima in the far south of Japan’s Kyushu island. At an altitude of 450m, the area is overlooked by Sakurajima, an active volcano which periodically covers the area in white ash making the terroir superbly fertile. The garden we select it from also grows the highest quality tencha tea leaves from the single cultivar Okumidori which, when processed and ground, create a matcha with high floral notes and deep, vegetal umami.
Organic: As a result of the fact that you are ingesting entire tea leaves in a powdered form, it is even more important to consider organic so that your beverage is grown with nature in mind. It can be difficult to find excellent tasting matcha that is also organic owing to the high levels of pesticide-use in the tea producing areas of Japan. But we recommend you look out for matcha that is both delicious, characterful, and classified as organic, so you know that you’re getting quality.
How does matcha get its taste?
Though mainly crafted in Japan today, matcha originated in China. During the 8th Century, the Chinese predominantly produced a steamed green tea that was pressed into a brick for storage. When drinking, they broke tea off the brick, powdered it and whisked up into a bowl, much like Matcha. Inspired by this, the Japanese went on to refine these processes to create the modern style of matcha we have today.
The raw base of tea leaves used for Matcha is known as tencha. Traditionally these tencha bushes are shaded with a dark canopy for a month before the spring harvest, blocking out the sunlight and encouraging them to produce deeper green chlorophyll and umami-rich amino acids that develop the flavour and texture of the tea. Once picked, to preserve the fresh, green state of the tencha leaves, they are steamed to prevent oxidisation. This also helps to retain the rich, umami flavour that matcha is revered for. The leaves are finely ground using stone mills, which produce an incredibly smooth textured and vibrant green powder.
How do I make matcha?
Watch our videos below to see how easy and quick it is to make delicious matcha green tea using our modern matcha shaker or traditional whisk and bowl.