Best Matcha Tea (6 Matcha Tea Brands Reviewed)
The story of tea began 5000 years ago, in China. In time, the beverage has developed into several varieties, all derived from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. Three main tea varieties are obtained from this plant: green, black, and white. Green tea is further divided into several types, one of which is Matcha.
Matcha tea is a special green tea, obtained from plants grown in shade. The leaves can be harvested at different degrees of maturity of the plant and from a distinct part, resulting in different Matcha.
Also, the post-harvesting treatment of the leaves is very different to the one used for green tea, as for Matcha, steams and veins are removed from the leaf, which is ground into a fine powder, and mixed with hot water, whereas, for green tea, the leaves are left intact and brewed to obtain tea.
This results in one of the most important benefits of Matcha, as it carries the entire nutritional value of the plant, which makes it an actual superfood, as opposed to green tea, which only holds the substances the hot water can carry out of the leaves while brewing.
Matcha contains higher caffeine quantities than regular green tea, as it is a concentrated form of the tea. It also contains theanine, an amino acid in green tea which has been proven to lower stress and anxiety. Both caffeine and theanine quantities are increased in Matcha thanks to growing the plants in shade, which leads to an increased production of chlorophyll.
The combination of caffeine and theanine leads to an interesting effect in both Matcha and green tea. Caffeine is absorbed gradually by the body, which translates into a constant supply of energy, very different from the energy highs and lows usually associated with drinking coffee. Also, drinking Matcha (and green tea) isn’t associated with the jittery feeling that sometimes comes with drinking coffee.
However, people who cannot tolerate caffeine should avoid both green tea and Matcha tea. This effect has been observed a long time ago by Zen Buddhist monks, who began drinking Matcha in a ritual that prepared them for mediation.
The tea is meant to keep them alert, but not anxious, during the long, silent hours of meditation. Other health benefits of Matcha are lowering blood pressure and lowering the levels of bad cholesterol. Some studies and popular beliefs claimed that Matcha and green tea are good for losing weight or fighting Type 2 diabetes and cancer, but there is not enough scientific evidence to back up these assumptions.
Types of Matcha Tea
Although it was first used in China, nowadays the best Matcha tea comes from Japan, a country that has developed an entire culture dedicated to the product.
Because of its use in religious practices, but also in everyday life, Japanese Matcha tea is highly sought after and also varied. Three main types are available.
Ceremonial Matcha tea is used by Buddhist Monks in the tea ceremony, a ritual with deep spiritual meanings. This Matcha is the most expensive and most concentrated kind.
To make it, only the youngest, freshest leaves from the top stems of the plant are used, the veins and stems are removed, and the product is stored in a cool place for months to develop flavor. Although there are no specific flavors that define ceremonial-grade Matcha tea, the quality must be so good as to support the making of “thick tea”, a type of tea with a high proportion of powder to water.
The premium-grade Macha is another type of high-quality tea, also containing young leaves from the top of the plant. The flavor is not as intense as it is in ceremonial grade Matcha, but premium-grade tea is recommended for daily consumption because of its fresh and subtle flavor.
Culinary-grade Matcha is the type of tea used in preparing different dishes, from ice creams, lattes, and smoothies, to more complex foods, such as Matcha chocolate or cheesecake. For culinary grade Matcha, the older leaves are used, so the taste is not as fresh and flavored, but rather on the bitter note.
How is Matcha served?
Serving Matcha is a ceremony in Japanese culture. While the spiritual ceremony in Buddhist temples is significant on many levels, the simple act of preparing the tea traditionally comes with its own significance. First, the powdered tea is forced through a special sieve, to break lumps. A wooden spatula is used to pass the powder through the sieve. Afterward, the tea is placed in a tea caddy, out of which it is scooped into the Matcha bowl, known as “chawan”.
For every cup, about 2-4 tea grams are used (depending on whether the tea is meant to be thin or thick), and then covered with water just below the boiling point. Then the mixture is whisked using a special bamboo whisk. The liquid is supposed to be lump-free, and no ground tea should remain on the sides of the bowl. The tea is served without any milk or sugar.
Modern culinary uses
Nowadays, the discovery of Matcha in the Western world has led to a re-discovery of the traditional product in the Eastern world. Producers have multiplied, but traditional Japanese Matcha tea from the Kyoto and Aichi prefectures remains superior in every aspect. Matcha is used in drinks, mixed with milk and sugar, but also in coffee (even Starbucks featured a Matcha latte at one point) and ice cream and frozen yogurt. In Japan, Kit Kat has a Matcha-flavored version.
American cuisine has integrated Matcha in many candy and desserts, but also oatmeal, Eggs Benedict, chia pudding, pancakes, granola, and hummus.
Matcha Tea Brands
There are lots of Matcha tea brands available online, but a thorough check is necessary, as many sell green tea ground to powder, labeling it “Matcha”. A genuine Matcha tea mentions the type it belongs to (ceremonial, premium, or culinary) and is usually produced in Japan. Green tea comes in the form of powder or tea bags, can be produced in several countries, and never specifies the type.
DoMatcha – Organic Ceremonial Green Tea
A ceremonial and organic tea, Do Matcha Ceremonial is a traditional Matcha tea, coming from the birthplace of Japanese Matcha, Kagoshima. It boasts the unique umami flavor associated with Matcha tea, alongside a smooth and velvety taste and texture, which engulfs the senses and eases the mind.
Customers praise its taste, even compared to other Do Matcha teas, mentioning that it is a first harvest tea, intended to be consumed at the tea ceremony. It is not bitter at all, but very smooth, with a hint of a fruity taste. The tin comes with a sticker that tells the buyer when the tea was harvested and the best before date. Some buyers also mention health benefits of this tea, such as helping with anxiety.
Rishi Tea Organic Teahouse Matcha
Another ceremonial organic Matcha tea is Rishi, a Japanese tea made from the spring harvest. It has a high caffeine level. The tea plants used for this Matcha tea grow in the Kirishima Mountain and are organically certified, meaning that no pesticides or fertilizers are involved in their growth. The tea is also obtained through direct trade, with the company’s buyers traveling to the original place of the tea, tasting the crops, and then working together with the farmers to achieve the desired flavors.
Customer reviews mention the bright green color of the tea, which shows minimal oxidation of the powder. The flavor is not too astringent, and the texture is not too gritty. Some reviewers mentioned that caution is necessary, as there are several online sellers which won’t send the original product.
Pantenger by Leopard Matcha
This Matcha tea is organically grown in Kagoshima Prefecture by a ninth-generation family-owned tea estate with 250 years of experience.
The plant is grown in shade for 20 days, which leads to the overproduction of chlorophyll, responsible for the emerald green color of the tea. Because of the high levels of chlorophyll, Pantenger has a sweet, creamy taste and the flavor of fresh grass.
Reviewers mention that the tea gives them an energy boost different from coffee or energy supplements. Also, the tea has very little caffeine, which means that it can be drunk in the afternoon, and not interfere with sleep.
Many reviewers were also very delighted with the tin can the tea came in, as it is suitable for being used after the tea is consumed. However, there were some buyers who, not being accustomed to Matcha tea, found it difficult to drink.
Jade Leaf Organic Ceremonial Grade Matcha Green Tea Powder
A limited-edition ceremonial tea, Jade Leaf Organic is an organic certified Japanese Matcha tea. It is sourced from farms in Uji and Kagoshima, in Japan, which means that the entire production process is supervised by the producing company.
The tea plant is shade-grown for 3-4 weeks before harvest, and the dried leaves have their stems and veins removed, before being stone-ground into Matcha powder. The producers guarantee that the tea crops are tested for contaminants by the farms, and then the imported tea is also tested in the U.S.
First-time Amazon reviewers mention being so impressed with the tea, that they felt the need to write about it. Compared to Kenko Matcha Green Tea Powder, from the same company, Jade Leaf is less sweet and darker, boasting a milder flavor, with a packaging (double bag inside the tin) meant to preserve the taste.
Ryu Mei Japanese Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder
A tea that is organically certified by Japan Agricultural Standard, Ryu Mei Japanese Organic Matcha promises a lot. Grown on the slopes of Uji, Kyoto, in Japan, the tea is praised as a natural energy booster, a natural calorie burner, and a source of antioxidants which keeps the skin looking young.
As it is a premium grade tea, not a ceremonial grade one, it is advisable to use it both for preparing tea (but only for the thin version), and for cooking or preparing other beverages. It has a lighter green color as compared to the ceremonial grade Matcha; the taste is less sweet, and the texture is not as smooth. However, the ceremonial tea has a more tannic taste (similar to dry red wines).
Reviewers noticed that the powder is very fine, and it dissolves quickly, and the tea is very well packed, as to preserve the flavor.
Matcha mixed with green tea (tea bags)
Kirkland Ito En Matcha Blend Japanese Green Tea
This is a product meant for those who want to try the Matcha flavor for the first time, but want to do so without the complicated preparation process. The tea comes in tea bags, and it is a mix of Sencha and Matcha tea (Sencha is a type of green tea, with the leaves preserved whole).
Both Sencha and Matcha used for this tea come from Japan. The tea bags are supposed to be brewed in water just below the boiling point, and after 20-30 seconds, the tea bag is taken out of the water. In doing so, the Matcha tea will float or rest on the bottom of the cup.
Buyers review it as a good-tasting green tea, with a subtle Matcha flavor, containing a small amount of caffeine, which gives an alert feeling. Other reviews mention the fact that it is a Matcha-styled tea, which is very good for staying alert throughout the day, and also for helping with arthritis.
The Republic of Tea Double Green Matcha
This tea is a gourmet blend of organic green tea and matcha powder. The producer company mentions that the Matcha powder used for the product is of Japanese origin. The flavor is characterized as suitable for springtime, because of the freshness, and the tea has a low caffeine quantity.
Reviewers mention that the tea acts as an immunity booster, but also the fact that the tea bags (which are non-bleached) help skip the complicated measuring process of Matcha powder. The tea has a mild flavor, with a hint of apple taste. Other reviewers also point out that the tea bags contain a fair quantity of Matcha, which is enough for someone who wants just a taste of the flavor.
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