Does matcha taste good? That's what I wanted to know before I started sipping this green tea variety. I'd heard matcha had a wide range of health benefits, but I wanted to know if I'd like it before I bought it. Spoiler: I did. Read on to learn everything you need to know about matcha's flavor and creative ways to enjoy it.
- What is matcha?
- Does matcha taste good?
- Ceremonial vs culinary grade matcha
- Does matcha just taste like green tea?
- How do you make matcha taste nice?
- Does matcha taste better iced or hot?
- Is matcha an acquired taste?
- Is matcha healthy?
- Is matcha healthier than coffee?
- How to buy matcha
- My favorite matcha brands
- Recipes with matcha
- Similar articles
- Fast facts
What is matcha?
Matcha is a type of tea made from finely ground green tea leaves. The best matcha is made from green tea leaves that are grown in the shade before being handpicked, steamed, dried, and ground. This process results in a powdered tea that’s an antioxidant powerhouse. In fact, it contains 137x more antioxidants than other forms of green tea. Yes, seriously.
Matcha powder was traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies. But, today, it’s also used to make a wide range of other drinks from cold brews to matcha vanilla lattes. It’s also become increasingly popular in desserts like ice creams, cakes and pastries.
Does matcha taste good?
Like any food or drink, your opinion on matcha’s taste will ultimately be up to your taste buds. But, to help you decide whether you want to give it a try, I’m sharing a few details on its flavor profile below.
- Matcha has a unique and earthy taste with grassy undertones.
- Matcha has a slightly bitter taste, much like other green tea varieties.
- The exact taste of your matcha depends on whether it’s ceremonial or culinary grade, the country of origin, and the quality.
- You can dilute the strong taste of matcha by enjoying it in a matcha latte, which is a mix of the powdered tea, milk, spices and sweeteners.
Pro Tip: If you haven’t tried matcha before, I’d start by grabbing a matcha tea from your local coffee shop. Depending on the quality of matcha you buy, it can get quite expensive. So, it’s better to give it a taste test before committing.
Ceremonial vs culinary grade matcha
Did you know that there are two varieties of matcha available? Ceremonial grade and culinary grade are the two options, and understanding the differences between them is essential if you’re looking to get the most out of your matcha drinking experience. Here’s what you need to know.
Ceremonial matcha is the highest quality (and most expensive) matcha.
- To make it, tea leaves are grown in the shade and only the youngest, most tender leaves are picked.
- The processing is minimal, since the leaves are handpicked and ground with a stone mill.
- It has a bright green hue and an ultra-smooth flavor that lingers on the palate. That smooth taste is thanks to the sifting step in its production, where stems and veins are removed.
- Ceremonial matcha is usually enjoyed straight as a brewed tea, without any added ingredients.
Culinary matcha, on the other hand, is more affordable since it's often produced with more mass-market methods and in larger quantities.
- Unlike ceremonial grade matcha, culinary matcha uses older, larger tea leaves, which tend to be less flavorful.
- To make it, the tea leaves are processed using a machine.
- The sifting step isn’t as thorough, meaning some of the veins and stems remain. That results in a darker green color and more bitter taste.
- Culinary matcha is perfect if you're using it in lattes, smoothies, and desserts.
Pro Tip: The grade of matcha is not regulated, so the labeling of "ceremonial" and "culinary" may differ between brands. It’s best to buy from reputable companies to be sure you’re getting true ceremonial grade matcha if that’s what you’re after.
Does matcha just taste like green tea?
Nope. Although matcha and green tea come from the same plant (Camelia sinensis), their flavor differs because of the way they’re processed.
With matcha, you’re only consuming part of the tea leaf, as the stems and veins are filtered. With green tea, you’re consuming the entire leaf. Because of this, matcha tends to have a more intense flavor than green tea.
That said, there are similarities. Both match and green tea are earthy, with slightly bitter notes.
How do you make matcha taste nice?
My favorite way to enjoy matcha tea is to use the powder in matcha lattes.
A matcha latte is a less intense version of matcha tea. While matcha tea can be too bitter for some people, a matcha latte uses milk, spices and sweeteners to tone down the intense taste.
There are so many options, but my go-to recipes are below:
If you're looking to enjoy matcha without the added ingredients, I got you too. To make your matcha taste as delicious as possible, here are a few tips:
- Use high quality matcha tea. See my buying guide at the end of this article.
- Use the right temperature of water (160 - 175F). Water that is too hot will burn your delicate matcha, causing a bitter aftertaste no matter how high quality your powder is.
- When whisking, use a traditional bamboo whisk and move in a zig zag motion until you see bubbles. Both will help incorporate air into the matcha, creating a smoother, creamier texture. See this video to better understand the technique. If you don't have a bamboo whisk, your next best option is a milk frother.
Does matcha taste better iced or hot?
This is for your taste buds to decide. But, as a general rule, cold brewed coffees and teas have less acidity and bitterness than their hot counterparts. And, matcha is no exception. If you’re struggling with the intensity of hot brewed matcha, you might find a cold brew to be a sweeter, lighter option.
Is matcha an acquired taste?
I'd say that it depends. If you’re used to sweet drinks, matcha is going to be tough to swallow at first. If you’re a regular consumer of black coffee or green tea, matcha won’t taste so foreign.
If you’re just starting on matcha, take it slow. You might want to start with a matcha cold brew or matcha latte and work your way up to a ceremonial grade hot brew. But, I promise, if you stick with it, you’ll come to love and enjoy it on a regular basis. Trust me, the health benefits are worth it.
Is matcha healthy?
Matcha is great for your health. Not only is it rich in antioxidants, but studies have linked matcha green tea to a variety of health benefits including protecting the liver, boosting brain function, preventing cancer and promoting heart health.
And, matcha is a gentler source of caffeine than coffee. More on that below.
Is matcha healthier than coffee?
Both coffee and matcha have potential health benefits. They contain antioxidants, which protect your cells against damage from free radicals. They also contain caffeine, helping you stay awake and alert.
While coffee and matcha are both rich sources of caffeine, the amount and action of this caffeine differs between the two, impacting their energizing effects on your body.
- Coffee contains more caffeine than matcha and often a more jittery pick-me up.
- The caffeine in matcha is released more slowly into your bloodstream, which means it’s a more stable source of energy. And, thanks to the L-theanine (often known as nature’s xanax), matcha also has a relaxing effect
Check out my infographic below for a side by side comparison of these two faves.
How to buy matcha
As you now know, not all matcha powders are created equal.
When buying matcha, it's important to consider the quality and source of your product. Here’s what you should consider when making a decision.
- Grade: Decide whether you want “ceremonial” or “culinary” grade and shop accordingly.
- Origin: The best quality matcha is produced in Japan.
- Packaging: Ensure the matcha is stored in an airtight, light-proof container.
- Price: Ceremonial grade matcha from Japan can be quite expensive. Depending on how you’re consuming your matcha, you may not need to purchase this. Balance price and quality based on your needs.
My favorite matcha brands
There are so many matcha brands available on the market. And, even with the buying guide above, it can be hard to decide which one to buy. That's why I'm sharing some of the brands I've used and loved below.
Recipes with matcha
Does matcha taste good? I think so. Especially when used in a creamy matcha latte. Below are my go-to sips.
Does matcha taste good?
- Ultimately, it's up to your taste buds.
- Matcha has a slightly bitter, earthy taste with grassy undertones.
- The exact flavor of your matcha depends on whether it’s ceremonial or culinary grade, the country of origin, and the quality you buy.
- If you don't like the intense taste of matcha, dilute it by enjoying it in a matcha latte, which is a mix of powdered tea, milk, spices and sweeteners.
Now that you know all about matcha, what other foods do you want to learn about? Let me know in the comments below and I'll be sure to answer them as best I can.