Authentic Matcha is made from Tencha. Tencha is dried green tea leaves. There are many green tea cultivars in japan but not all of them are good for matcha. Low grade matcha is made from some cultivars that is good for Sencha but not good for matcha.
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When you are looking for a Matcha Green Tea on line, you might notice that there is single estate Matcha Green Tea.
Japanese green tea (including Matcha) have been sold by green tea shops. They usually don't have their own green tea farms, but they buy different origin (different farm, region...) green tea leaves from a green tea market. The reason for this is that by blending different origin green tea leaves, they can create a unique taste green tea. Another reason is that they can keep the same taste every year. Chashi (certified green tea blender) is blending green tea leaves. If they use single origin green tea leave only, the tea would have different taste every year. The taste of green tea leaves are affected by climate.
There is no single origin Tencha (what is tencha? Read here!) that is excellent in all (fragrance, color and taste). A Tencha might be excellent for its fragrance, other one might be excellent for its color, The other one might be excellent in its taste. By blending all of them, high quality matcha can be made!
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Kyoto and Nishio. You might have heard of these names as a place where matcha is produced. Matcha is made from Tencha (What is Tencha?). In Japan, there are many places where tencha is produced. Kyoto, Aichi (Nishio), Kagoshima, Shizuoka...
If you live outside Japan, It is very difficult to get to know about matcha very well because each matcha sellers say their matcha is the best.
This is the result of the most prestigious green tea contest (2015) in Japan.
As you can see, Kyoto is dominating the First, Second and Third prizes. In 2015, Tencha from Kyoto got the first prizes from all category in the contest.
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Matcha is very fine powered green tea. It is made from Tencha. Matcha is very different from other Japanese green tea. When you drink matcha tea, you intake all of green tea leaves into your body. You take advantage of health benefits of Japanese green tea effectively. This is why matcha is recognized as "Super Food"
Thanks to the improvement of medical care, our life span has become longer and longer every year but we should know more about healthy life expectancy.
What is the health benefits of matcha green tea? Read our blog here!
In Japan where Matcha was invented, there is no such grade. Historically Matcha was enjoyed in tea ceremonies. So in Japan we have only two types of Matcha. Matcha (authentic matcha) and culinary grade Matcha (very low grade Matcha or powder of Sencha). Depending on green tea cultivar, how young leaves to use, etc, there are so many grades and depending on the grade, the price for the matcha is determined by its producer. So in Japan we don't use the name "ceremonial grade" for high grade matcha. Higher grade matcha has higher price than lower grade one.
So why we see so many matcha brands selling ceremonial grade matcha?
The answer is very simple. Because there are so many people outside Japan don't know about matcha well still. If you see "ceremonial grade", you might think that it is a high grade matcha and you would buy it. So this is a matcha seller's trick to sell low grade matcha with a high price tag.
Why is it difficult to find good matcha?
Matcha is becoming very popular worldwide. This means that so many people are trying to make money from matcha business. Matcha sellers can make big profits from selling low grade matcha as a ceremonial grade matcha. And the partial of the profit goes to bloggers who run affiliate programs. The bloggers promote the low grade matcha irresponsibly. What you can find on search engines is that if you see matcha on many bloggers post, the matcha seller offer big commission to the bloggers.
Thanks for reading!
Each Matcha produced is given a price based on quality (colour, taste, scent, etc.), but there are no scientific standards used to determine these features. Rather, it is a very human process based solely on the five senses of the tea experts at each production company. This means that two different products from two different companies might have the same price but look and taste not noticeably different.
To give a brief explanation, higher grade Matcha powders will have a very bright, vivid colour, and contain no notes of bitterness or harshness. In contrast, lower grade Matcha powders are much less vividly coloured (often appearing more yellow than green) and their flavour contains stronger bitter notes or harshness. High grade Matcha is made from very young tea leaves of the first harvest. Low grade Matcha is made from older tea leaves of the first harvest or young tea leaves of second harvest.
As for the cultivars of green tea for high grade Matcha, ‘Asahi’ is used for an annual tea contest and receives the first prize very often. Other cultivars for matcha are Samidori, Gokou, Ujihikari, etc. To make tasty matcha, it is very important to blend them. So the taste of matcha is depending on who is blending. And this is why the taste of matcha is different from one matcha brand to another.
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Matcha Green Tea is becoming popular worldwide. You can find so many matcha brands out there but you might have to think like "Is this brand really offer high quality matcha" This is a very good question to avoid buying low quality matcha with very high price.
As one of Matcha Lovers, I'd like to say 5 of important things you should know before buying matcha.
1. Many of Matcha brands outside Japan are Matcha second sellers.
Their brands do not exist in Japan. They buy matcha from one of matcha production companies (matcha brands) in Japan. So the question is " Is your matcha brand really famous or popular in Japan?"
2. Many of bloggers do not know about good quality matcha.
Many bloggers review matcha brands for money, not for people who are eager to find good quality matcha. There are some decent bloggers though.
3. Product Reviews are not always reliable.
There are some apps to get good reviews instead of offering discounts or money back.
4. Buying from a huge e-commerce company can be easy but that's ALL.
They take huge commission fee. So it is difficult to offer high quality matcha with the reasonable prices. And Matcha should be kept in a refrigerator all the time.
5. Matcha made in Japan is only the authentic matcha.
You might have found some matcha made in other countries. Matcha can not be made in other counties because good quality matcha can be made only from some Japanese green tea cultivars.
If you are looking for truly high quality organic matcha, try ours and compare with others. Read our products reviews from Matcha Lovers!
Do you know what Matcha Green Tea is?
To know about Matcha, it is essential to know about how to matke ‘Sencha’ (cha means tea) which is the most common green tea in Japan.
After picking the young tea leaves, they are steamed to prevent oxidization. Then thery are pressed and left to dry. This process is repeated several times until finally they become Sencha. The reason why they are pressed is that by breaking up the structure of the tea leaves, the components of them are easily released when they are made into tea.
How about Matcha, then?
First of all, Matcha is defined as a stone-ground green tea powder which is made from Tencha. At present, machines are also regarded as an acceptable method of grinding Tencha to make Matcha.
What is Tencha, then?
Machine-picking for low grade Matcha. Hand-picking is used for high grade Matcha.
To make Tencha, young leaves are grown in the shade for about 20 days. Under these conditions, L-Theanie (the source of flavour), which is made at the roots then carried up to the leaves and stored there, is prevented from transforming into Catechin (the source of bitterness and harshness). Furthermore, this method makes tea leaves produce more chlorophyll, resulting in deep green-colored tea leaves. These tea leaves are picked, steamed, then dried in a special drying oven called a ‘Tencha oven’ without any process of pressing the tea leaves. Then they undergo the final process to become Tencha.
Authentic Matcha must be made from Tencha only.
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The method of making Matcha was developed in Japan after the introduction of green tea powder into Japan from China. The most distinguishing feature of Japanese Matcha is the use of a Tencha oven. This oven was invented in Japan and is called a Horii-type Tencha oven. All Tencha ovens in Japan are said to be of the Horii type.
a picture from Tokyo green tea cooperative
Another important thing is the varieties of tea breeds for Matcha. Farmers and Japan agricultural research organizations have been studying to make superior tea breeds for Matcha. Some of them are ‘Asahi’, ‘Samidori’, ‘Ujihikari’.
Low grade matcha use 'Yabukita' that is used mainly for Sencha. If you have already tried Matcha and think that the taste of matcha is disgusting, you might have bought very low grade matcha, even if it says 'ceremonial grade'.
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What is culinary / cooking grade Matcha?
There is no definition for culinary / cooking grade Matcha. Conscientious tea companies are using low grade Tencha, which is not suitable for drinking, to make culinary grade Matcha by either stone mill or machine. Therefore, the price of the tea is much cheaper than authentic Matcha. In Japan it is said that only one third of Matcha (including culinary / cooking grade Matcha) is made from Tencha.
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