Knowing Your Matcha Green Tea Grades
There was a time when there existed only two grades of matcha tea and that was ceremonial grade and the other the normal grade. Widely accepted as the best matcha green tea, and used in tea ceremonies, ceremony or ceremonial tea are top of the matcha tea grades, the culinary grade is used for cooking, baking, and smoothies, and there are the matcha teas in between mostly referred to as premium or select grades.
However, since the advent of matcha tea’s steady growth around the world, some different grades and categories have emerged such as certified organic. It may include all the other grades already mentioned. Many brands will usually use a 3 or 2 grading system. It normally includes ceremonial and cooking or culinary grades for 2 grade systems. And, for the 3-grade system, you will normally have ceremonial, premium, and culinary/ basic/ cooking grades. Normally, non-organic matcha green tea cost less than organic grades. In the same vein, ceremonial matcha green tea cost a lot more than culinary grades.
When it comes to tea, it being organic or non-organic is crucial. The difference in taste does not depend on whether or not the tea is organic. However, there are other factors you need to consider before you decide to go for non-organically grown tea. Non-organic foods are known to have a higher concentration of harmful trace chemicals. That is because non-organic plants are grown and harvested with the aid the insecticides, pesticides, and other inorganic chemical sprays.
When you decide not to use pesticides to grow tea in warm climates, a pest infestation will often result in loss of an entire plantation. Using natural pest control is expensive and not as effective as the use of pesticides and insecticides. A fluctuation in the weather or a pest infestation can destroy whole crops of tea in no time. The high cost of growing tea organically means the prices of organic tea is usually much greater than inorganic teas although the flavor and quality may not be higher. If you want to buy organic only, you will need to ensure the proper authorities certifies the tea as organic. For Japanese matcha tea, the matcha green tea should bear certification from the Japan Organic and Natural Foods Association (JONFA).
So which is the best matcha green tea? Since the difference in flavor, appearance and nutritional values are indiscernible; it is up to you the consumer. You can choose to go for good quality non-organic tea and save money, or you can go for a more expensive organic tea knowing you will not take in any harmful chemicals.
This grade is always the most expensive green tea of every brand. Ceremonial grade matcha is considered the best matcha green tea. A ceremonial blend of matcha tea is grown, harvested, and processed purely for drinking alone as tea. A ceremonial blend of matcha tea is made to be brewed and drank with no further ingredients or sweeteners added. There is a significant difference between ceremonial tea and the other grades of the same brand when drank plain. However, when used as an ingredient in the preparation of a dish or food, there is no discernable difference in the outcome. Avid tea drinkers would not like to waste ceremonial blend on pastries, smoothies and such since the price is very high. A gram of high-quality ceremonial blend of matcha tea is usually more expensive than a gram of silver.
Just like any valuable commodity such as gold, silver and so on, the price of a ceremonial grade of matcha green tea fluctuates. You should check between different retailers before purchasing, so as to get the best price.
The average price of a gram of high-quality ceremonial blend of matcha tea is about 27-30 dollars per ounce while the price of silver as I write this article is 16 dollars. It means ceremonial blend is almost twice as expensive as silver. That makes it far too expensive as an ingredient in many foods and dishes.
The process that goes into the making of the ceremonial blend of matcha tea is a very meticulous one. Growers select the best young tea plants 3 or so weeks before harvesting. The growers shade the tea plants with bamboo mats, to shade it from sunlight. That causes the plant to increase the leaves production chlorophyll and other proteins. It gives the matcha green tea its very vibrant green color. The harvesters handpick only the top one or 2 leaves and dry the leaves indoors. Next, the tea farmers remove the stems and the veins. The tea growers then mill the leaves to a very fine powder using a granite millstone. The tea is then sealed in airtight containers. That way there is minimal oxidation. Oxidation will affect the flavor, smell, and appearance. It makes ceremonial matcha tea the best matcha green tea.
Premium (In-Between) Grade
It has recognition as a grade by most traditional tea enthusiasts, and as such not every matcha green tea brand offers a premium grade of matcha tea. Although they are not the best matcha green tea you can find, they are usually better tasting than culinary grade from the same seller or brand.
It is bad to jump to conclusions that culinary grades of matcha tea are the low-grade matcha. Culinary grade from the best sellers and brands are usually better tasting than the ceremonial blend of matcha tea from many other sellers and brands. The culinary grade of matcha green tea powder is also the best matcha green tea for cooking. They are excellent for lattes, frappes, smoothies, cakes, biscuits and all sort of foods. You can also drink them exclusively. You can also add sweeteners to culinary matcha green tea. They make excellent matcha-infused beverages.
The reason why they are the best matcha green tea for cooking lies in the taste. Unlike ceremonial blend, culinary grade of matcha green tea powder has a slightly more bitter taste. When paired with other ingredients such as in smoothies and baked foods, their lightly bitter taste enhances the flavor of the final food. They pair wonderfully with milky beverages and foods such as lattes, frappes, and ice creams. They also make wonderful smoothies and ice-cold matcha tea drinks. All over the world, more people enjoy the taste of culinary matcha green tea powder in their foods and beverages. You can find them in an amazing array of foods from cakes to ice creams to cookies and so on. The list is endless.
Pricing Of Culinary Grade Of Matcha Green Tea Powder
High-quality culinary matcha tea brands are between five to three times more affordable than the ceremonial blend of matcha tea. They average about 5 to 12 dollars an ounce. For the same level of flavor as ceremonial matcha, you will have to use twice the same amount. The culinary grade of matcha green tea powder are better for cooking and the preparation of matcha-infused foods and beverage than the ceremonial grade of matcha green tea are. But for the purpose of drinking, ceremonial blend of matcha tea is the best matcha green tea.
What Is The Best Matcha Green Tea To Get?
It depends on your preference. If you wish to use matcha as an ingredient in your lattes, smoothies, cakes among others, then culinary matcha green tea powder is the way to go. If you wish to enjoy and appreciate the traditional Japanese tea ceremonial tea, then ceremonial matcha green tea is the way to go. There are other factors to consider such as the whether the tea is organic or not. If you want to buy organic, make sure the certification is a reputable institution such as JONFA (Japan Organic and Natural Foods Association). You also need to be wary of matcha from China and other countries apart from Japan.
There are some other excellent matcha styled teas such as genmaicha, the roasted rice green tea and flavored matcha teas such as the ones by Ito-En.