Matcha is a traditional Japanese tea that has gained worldwide popularity for its unique flavour, bright green colour, and numerous health benefits. The main ingredient in matcha is matcha powder, which is made by grinding shade-grown green tea leaves into a fine powder. Matcha powder can vary greatly in quality and flavour, and it is generally classified into several grades. In this article, we will explore the different grades of matcha powder and their uses.
Ceremonial Grade Matcha
Ceremonial grade matcha is considered to be the finest quality matcha powder available. It is made from the youngest and most tender tea leaves and is ground into a fine powder using stone mills. The resulting powder has a vibrant green colour and a sweet, vegetal taste with a slight astringency.
The key characteristic of ceremonial grade matcha is its smooth and silky texture, which makes it perfect for use in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. During these ceremonies, matcha is whisked with hot water to create a frothy and flavourful tea that is not only delicious but also visually stunning.
Ceremonial grade matcha is also the most expensive grade due to the delicate process of production, high quality tea leaves used and its exclusivity to tea ceremonies. It is not recommended to use ceremonial grade matcha in cooking or baking as its delicate flavour profile may get lost in the process.
Premium Latte/Cafe Grade Matcha
Premium grade matcha is considered to be of high quality and is used for culinary purposes such as making matcha lattes, smoothies, and baking. The leaves used to make premium grade matcha powder are slightly older than those used for ceremonial grade, but they are still of high quality. The powder has a light green colour and a slightly sweeter and less astringent taste than ceremonial grade.
Premium grade matcha is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes. It is perfect for adding to smoothies, lattes, and baked goods, and its milder flavour profile means that it can be used in recipes without overpowering the other flavours.
Culinary Grade Matcha
Culinary grade matcha is used for cooking and baking and is the most affordable grade of matcha powder. The leaves used to make culinary grade matcha powder are older and less tender than those used for premium and ceremonial grades, resulting in a milder flavour profile. The powder has a pale green colour and a milder taste than premium or ceremonial grade.
Culinary grade matcha is perfect for adding to recipes that call for matcha powder as a colorant, rather than a flavour additive. It is often used in baking recipes such as flavoured cakes, cookies, and other desserts.
In conclusion, the quality of matcha powder can vary greatly, and it is important to choose the right grade based on the intended use. Whether it's for traditional tea ceremonies, cooking, or baking, there is a grade of matcha powder that is perfect for each occasion. When purchasing matcha powder, it is important to choose a reputable brand and to consider the intended use to ensure the best quality and flavour.