Before you can buy Matcha, you have to decide what you’re going to use it for. Will you be drinking it in its traditional tea form? Or will you be adding Matcha into some of your favorite recipes?
The reason why you have to first know what you’ll be using Matcha for is because there are different grades of Matcha green tea powder. Each grade is determined based on its color, texture and quality, and each also has different uses.
The two main Matcha tea grades are ceremonial and culinary, but culinary is further divided into 5 grades: premium, cafe, ingredient, kitchen and classic.
Ceremonial grade has one purpose and one purpose only—the purpose of drinking. It’s the highest-quality tea grade, which is why it’s been used for centuries in the traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. But you can drink it outside of tea ceremonies.
This grade is produced from the youngest tea leaves. With each leaf, its stems and veins are removed, and then the leaves are ground up using stone. The leaves used and the process of creating the powder are what help give ceremonial grade Matcha tea powder its vibrant green color, fine texture, naturally sweet flavor and a pure taste. This grade, in powder and tea form, often smells like freshly cut grass, but it should never feel gritty.
When you drink this form, expect a thicker green tea, and drink it plain; it’s counterintuitive to add sweeteners or other additional ingredients because of this grade’s purity and naturally sweet taste.
Culinary, or food, grade isn’t a low-quality tea by any means. This type of Matcha green tea is simply made different and has different uses and flavors than ceremonial grade. Like it’s name suggests, culinary grade is meant to be used for baking and cooking.
While you can drink this grade, it’s better not to since its strong and slightly bitter taste is intended to be combined with other ingredients used in food and beverage recipes. Culinary grade’s mildly astringent flavor is what allows it to mix well with various smoothies and other milk-based drinks.
This lower-priced food grade will also smell like fresh grass and should have a soft feel to it. And while its green color isn’t as vibrant, it’s still a fairly bright green, and culinary grade actually has a higher antioxidant level than ceremonial grade.
Below are the 5 subgrades of culinary Matcha tea and a brief description of each:
Now that you know what you’ll be using Matcha for and the grade that’s best for your usage, nothing stands in your way—besides buying your Matcha green tea of course.