Alongside black tea and oolong tea, matcha is another classic staple in any bubble tea shop’s menu. This grassy, foamy tea is a perfect match with milk, red beans, chestnuts and so much more. Aside from simply drinking it, the tea has made its mark in cafes too – matcha cakes, matcha ice cream, matcha pudding…so many choices, so little time!
To most people, matcha is matcha. There’s no mistaking its distinct green colour – much sharper than regular green tea – and its grassy flavour which sets it apart from other types of tea. What else is there to know about it?
However, did you know that matcha has different grades? Read on to find out more about this Japanese classic!
Much like steaks and wines, matcha tea is graded by comparing their qualities – colour, taste, aroma and texture. Different shops may have their own grade names, but a common way to classify this tea in the West is by what they can be used for:
The highest-quality matcha is ceremonial-grade. As its name suggests, ceremonial-grade is used for chadō tea ceremonies in Japan. Traditionally, only tea of this grade is qualified for use in this ceremony. Aside from these rituals, this tea best for drinking as is – adding other ingredients will mask its delicate flavour easily.
Ceremonial-grade matcha has the sharpest, brightest green colour compared to other grades, as it’s made only from young tea leaves. The tea is also more finely-ground using stone mills, resulting in a finer texture as well.
. Tastes may vary between blends, but matcha from this grade tend to have the richest yet most delicate taste – grassy but not too bitter, sometimes with a subtle sweetness.
A smidge lower than ceremonial-grade, premium-grade matcha features a darker colour and stronger, more bitter flavours. However, this doesn’t mean that premium-grade is bad – it’s still a high-quality matcha of its own right!
While ceremonial-grade is best enjoyed as pure matcha, premium-grade is your best bet for mixing drinks. Thanks to its stronger flavours, premium-grade holds up well against milk, cream, honey and other ingredients. There’s a reason why some shop classify this as “Latte-grade”!
Nevertheless, these qualities do vary between blends, moreso as Premium-grade can cover a wider range of qualities.
As culinary-grade matcha is made from older tea leaves and machine-ground rather than stone-ground, it has a lighter, more yellowish-colour and a coarser texture compared to the other two grades.
Taste-wise, culinary-grade has an even stronger and more bitter taste than premium-grade. As a result, its taste is strong enough to be visible even after more intense cooking processes such as baking.
Therefore, Culinary-grade is best for preparing desserts and other foods. Want to bake some cakes and cookies? Culinary-grade is your choice. A light dust of this powder will give them a dash of flavour!
However, here in Yen Chuan we go beyond a mere three grades.
Instead, we divide our matcha powder into a whopping seven grades, each grade being a blend of younger and older tea leaves of different proportions.
Here’s a quick rundown of how to compare between these seven grades:
|Colour||Bright green||Green||Darker green||Dark green||Yellowish green||Yellow green||Most yellowish|
|Flavour||Lightest, most delicate||More distinct “nori” flavour||Slight “nori” flavour||Average taste, not too light nor bitter||Slightly stronger taste||Strong, slight bitter taste||Strongest, more bitter|
Our highest-graded tea is made only from young tea leaves, with a quality matching ceremony-grade matcha. Grade 7 matcha matches the culinary grade, with its strong taste and lighter colours. By dividing into more grades, we make sure our customers can find exactly the right blend for their needs.
Still think these graded blends aren’t quite exactly the one you need? Let us know, and we’ll prepare a customized blend just for you!