The Benefits of Higher Quality Matcha
Quality matters when it comes to matcha. In this article, we’re going to list the 5 reasons why it’s important to go for high quality matcha. There are a lot of cheap matchas out there, but they are not all created equal. There are many different steps that go into the production of premium matcha tea that make all the difference in terms of flavor and nutrient content. When some of these steps are skipped you end up with a low quality matcha.
The first advantage to high quality matcha is that the flavor is much smoother. This may sound obvious, but there is actually a very specific reason why the flavor of premium matcha is so good. First the tea leaves have to be shaded for three weeks prior to the harvest. This prevents the plant from converting the sweet and savory theanine into more bitter catechizes. The catechins are used as protection against the UV light, so leaves that are exposed to sunlight for longer will begin to become more bitter. Next the top sprouts of the plant are selected, as these are the sweetest in flavor and the highest in nutrients. Cheaper matchas will be made from later harvests or older tea leaves, both of which will reduce the nutrient content and make the tea taste more bitter. Finally the leaves need to have their stems removed before they are ground into a fine powder. If this step is skipped and the stems are ground up along with the leaves, it can also affect the taste and make it less enjoyable.
The second advantage is that the color of the high quality matcha is much more vibrant. With culinary matcha, you get this really unnapealling brown color, but with ceremonial grade matcha, you get a beautiful jade green color. This transformation of color is mostly due to the shading. When you compare shaded tea leaves and non-shaded tea leaves, you can see the shaded ones take on a much greener color. When these tea leaves are cut off from sunlight, they have to produce more chlorophyll to compensate. This is one of the reasons these leaves change color. For matcha, it’s really important this transformation takes place. If regular tea leaves are ground up into a powder, they will taste very different than the real thing.
The third advantage to choosing high quality matcha is that it actually produces a much better foam. You can get a pretty good indication of how good a matcha is, based on how well it foams up when you whisk it. This foam isn’t just for looks, it also gives the tea a much smoother and creamier taste. A well-foamed bowl of matcha can taste almost like a latte, but without any milk or sugar. So not only does lower quality matcha taste much more bitter, but the texture will be off and you won’t be able to disguise the flavor underneath a blanket of foam
In addition to the flavor and drinking experience being much more pleasant, high quality matcha will also have a lot more caffeine. A teaspoon of lower quality matcha will have 34 milligrams of caffeine, but premium matcha will have 68mg of caffeine. Matcha is part of a lot of peoples morning ritual, and one of the reasons for that is that it is a high caffeine tea. If you’re not feeling a long lasting energy from the matcha, it may be because you are using a lower grade matcha, which contains less caffeine. The reason that premium matcha has more caffeine has to do with the long production process we discussed earlier. The tea plant produces caffeine as a defense mechanism to protect itself from insects, and because the plant undergoes a lot of stress when its cut off from sunlight, it produces even more caffeine. What’s even more interesting is that the younger, more tender leaves used for matcha are more vulnerable to insects, so they actually produce more. These two reasons give matcha and gyokuro the highest caffeine content in the world of tea. If older leaves are used, or if the shading process is shorter, the matcha will not contain as much caffeine.
Before you get concerned about the caffeine, you should also know that matcha has one thing that coffee does not have and that is l-theanine. The fifth and final reason to drink high quality matcha is because of the higher theanine content. L-theanine is an amino acid found almost exclusively in tea that buffers some of the negative side effects of caffeine. It slows the bodies absorption of caffeine, so instead of getting a rapid jolt of energy and then a crash soon after, you get a long lasting sustainable energy throughout the day. This is why a lot of people like to drink tea for long periods of work and study. Matcha was originally consumed in Japan by the monks, that found it helpful during long periods of meditation. We now know that this is because l-theanine stimulates alpha brainwave activity, which is the same brainwaves stimulated when someone is in a meditative state. L-theanine is one of the many properties that makes tea so special, and matcha has it in great supply. If you really want to experience this so called “calm-alert” feeling, a great place to start is making a cup of premium matcha tea.
If you want to start exploring the world of high quality matcha, a good place to start is with the monthly matcha club. With this subscription, not only will you get great deals on matchas from small farms all around Japan, you’ll also get a free tea whisk and a tea spoon your first month. This will give you all you need to start whisking up a perfect bowl of matcha tea. Thank you all so much for reading this article. If you have any questions about matcha, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. Until then, we’ll see you next time.