There are many different types and qualities of matcha on the market. We regularly get the question how you now know what is and is not a good quality matcha. There are several factors that determine the quality of matcha and where you can recognize the quality. In this blog we zoom in on this.
As the website shows, Hug the Tea has three different qualities 100% organic and pure Matcha in the assortment:
- Ceremonial Matcha A – Drinking grade:
This highest A quality is made from the first harvest of tea leaves in the spring. These young leaves are slightly sweet and creamy, softer taste (not bitter!). The Ceremonial Matcha is therefore very suitable for pure drinking as tea. This is the most green and aromatic Matcha. Where you recognize the best quality Matcha you can read below.
- Premium Matcha B – Blending grade:
This B quality is made from the second harvest in the summer. This matcha is somewhat stronger in taste and therefore ideal for blending, for example in smoothies, shakes, iced tea, cocktails and Matcha Latte.
- Classic Matcha C – Cooking grade:
This C quality is made from the third harvest in the autumn. These leaves are more bitter in taste and therefore not suitable for pure drinking, but very suitable for cooking and baking. Ideal for example in pastries, waffles and pancakes!
Matcha quality tric: Milling test (traditional)
There is a way to test the quality of matcha, namely: the Milling test.
The matcha is tested on three parts:
- Smell & taste
This goes as follows. On a blank sheet of paper, a small pile of powder is deposited with a teaspoon of different brands / types / qualities of matcha.
Next, use your finger to wipe out the heap of matcha powder in a straight line. The longer and firmer the line, the creamier the texture, the better the quality. The greener and creamier, the higher the quality.
We recently performed a Milling test with the current three qualities matcha of HUG THE TEA and three samples from Japan. As the picture above shows, the leftmost stripe is the most creamy of texture and green in color. This is partly because this matcha is stone pumping and the other matcha is machine ground. In a stone mill it goes slower, making the structure finer. It also becomes less hot, so that the structure remains better. This, too, has an impact on quality. We also smelled and tasted blind and here too the current matcha of HUG THE TEA came out of the test.
Highest quality Matcha features:
Real Matcha comes from Japan. Only in Japan farmers have found the way to preserve the best taste (shadow process). Japan stands for quality. The Japanese have been drinking matcha for over 900 years and have optimized this over the course of the year. Matcha is really Japanese. It literally means ‘ground tea’. Naturally, matcha is also produced in neighboring countries, for example China. However, the quality of Chinese matcha is not as good as the quality of Japanese matcha. This has to do with the growth process, the leaves and how it is processed. Japanese often pick them up by hand and go for quality. Chinese usually harvest mechanically and go for quantity.
Schadow growing process
The shadow growing process also ensures that the tea leaves are so beautiful green. In Japan, large screens across the tea plants are stretched 4-6 weeks before harvest. In this way the plants do not get direct sunlight and are going to do their best effort. The tea plants (Camellia Sinensis) make extra chlorophyll, leaf green, through this shadow process. This not only gives a beautiful green color, but also ensures that the number of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids (L-theanine) and theine in the tea leaves increases. Chlorophyll makes matcha such a healthy type of tea.
First pick tea leaves
The quality of matcha depends on the leaves and in which season the leaves are picked. The first harvest of tea leaves harvested in the spring is very green, slightly sweet (not bitter), strong and creamy in taste and texture. When these leaves are picked in the spring, they are then steamed, dried and ground in stone mills into ultra-fine powder. This way you get a high quality matcha. Matcha made from leaves harvested in the autumn is less green in color and more bitter in taste. That is why this quality is not good to drink, but very suitable for cooking and baking.
2. Package of Matcha
It is always good to have a good look at the packaging of the matcha. Is it from Japan? If so, from which area? Is it organic? Is it made from first picking leaves? Are sugars added to it? Is it 100% green tea or is it a blend? There are many matcha species where something else has been added. For example a blend of matcha with milk powder (for the matcha latte), matcha with ginger, matcha with raspberries, matcha with sugar and so on.
Pay attention to the back of the packaging and look at ingredients. If you want to go for the best quality Matcha then the following ingredients must be added: 100% green tea of biological origin.
4. Organic label
Make sure that the organic label is on the packaging. This label should include ‘JAPAN‘ and not Non-EU for example. Only then will the Matcha really come from Japan (see below). The matcha of HUG THE TEA is 100% organic, 100% green tea and therefore 100% pure, with no additives. It comes from the south of Japan, Kagoshima.
5. Average nutritional value
High quality Matcha contains no sugars, salt and is high in natural proteins (20 to 30.9 grams of protein per 100g). Also make sure that there are a lot of fibers in the Matcha (around 20 grams per 100 grams). Finally, it is also important to look at the free amino acids. The more amino acids there are, the better (2-4 grams per 100 grams). Ceremonial Matcha scores highest in all these nutritional values.
In addition, the price often (not always!) Says something about the quality of the matcha. If you see a large package of 100 grams of € 10, – it can not be very good. The norm is that you will soon pay € 30, – for 30 grams of Ceremonial Matcha. This is already quite pricey for only 30g of Matcha. The more expensive, does not always mean better. Often you pay more if the Matcha is not directly imported and extra for the packaging (luxury tea tin)
The Matcha from Hug the Tea costs € 24.95 for 50 grams (100 cups of Matcha = € 0.25 per cup). Hug the Tea imports the Matcha directly from Japan and is certified organic at Bio Skal. This ensures an honest and relatively low price. Ceremonial Matcha is guaranteed to be the best quality.
In short: you can determine the quality of matcha by looking at the country of origin, packaging, ingredients, biological, nutritional value, color, texture, season of the picking, shadow process and whether it is crushed or mechanically ground. If you have any questions regarding this blog, please do not hesitate to mail to us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, make sure that you do not put Matcha with boiling water. This way the taste and antioxidants are lost. Maximum 70-80 degrees Celsius.
Let’s spread the matcha love!