Sakucha guide to ceremonial grade matcha high quality versus poor quality matcha green tea

What is Ceremonial Grade Matcha?

“Ceremonial grade matcha” describes high quality green tea powder. This tea can be enjoyed when simply whisked with water (as it’s prepared in the Japanese Way of Tea). Unfortunately, this is unregulated territory. Therefore you can find “ceremonial grade” or “premium” labels on poor quality matcha. If you pick up one of these low grade products, it’s sure to leave a bitter taste in your mouth. So what should you look for when buying matcha to ensure it’s delicious and nutritious? Here are 5 things that are important to consider when choosing your matcha. Explore our ceremonial grade matcha guide…

5 things to review when purchasing matcha

1. Colour

The colour of high quality matcha is vivid green with no yellow/brown undertones. In the middle of April each year, tea trees are covered in cloth. This blocks up to 95% of sunlight. Shading the plant increases the level of chlorophyll and other nutrients taken up to its leaves. The foliage becomes a rich shade of green and this colour (and nutrition) is preserved with the careful production techniques that follow harvest.  

Sakucha guide to ceremonial grade matcha high quality versus poor quality matcha green tea
Sakucha’s organic ceremonial grade matcha (top) versus other organic “premium” matcha (bottom)

2. Aroma

Quality matcha has a fresh, vegetal and slightly sweet smell. You’ll be embraced by this pleasant aroma when tea hits the warm bowl and as you’re whisking and savouring your brew. 

3. Texture

Ceremonial grade matcha is a very fine silky powder. This is partly due to the shade growing process which creates leaves that are wider and thinner (more tender). After harvesting the finest leaves, a process of careful destemming and deveining is carried out. This removes the coarser parts of the plant. After this, the leaves are carefully ground into a fine powder. High quality matcha will foam easily with water, creating a creamy mouthfeel. 

Tea trees are shaded before harvest to create nutrient-dense and tender leaves

4. Taste

Matcha should be a pleasant drinking experience when prepared simply with water (no milk and sweeteners). The tea will have minimal bitterness and is often described as having a fresh, earthy taste with sweet notes and an umami (savoury) finish. 

Tip: ensure water is no hotter than 80°C as this can increase the bitterness of your bowl. 

5. Cost

The price of ceremonial grade matcha reflects the deep knowledge, care and labour that goes into making a premium tea with a history of more than 800 years in Japan. Cheap matcha signals that corners have been cut in the cultivation/production process and you’ll see, smell and taste it. Note that nutrients such as powerful anti-oxidants and L-theanine are only produced with adequate shading (matcha that lacks colour also lacks nutrients). 

In addition to lost nutrition and flavour, preparing a drink with lower grade matcha requires more ingredients and effort to make it palatable (e.g. a matcha latte). You may save a little on cost, but you’ll lose a considerable amount in terms of benefits for body and mind. 

Sakucha’s Organic Ceremonial Grade Matcha

Sakucha’s matcha ticks all five boxes in this guide to ceremonial grade matcha. Our matcha is carefully prepared from 100% JAS organic green tea leaves grown in Uji, Japan. The Uji region has been producing the world’s best matcha for more than 800 years. Our farming partner picked the finest leaves from shade-grown tea trees during this year’s first (Spring) harvest. These tea leaves were then carefully ground to produce a delicious and nutritious green tea powder. Our ceremonial grade matcha is of the highest quality. Bright green, silky and delicious. You can enjoy a bowl of tea by simply whisking it with water. Its rich flavour profile includes sweet notes, a refreshing bitterness and strong umami (savoury) finish.