Different Types of Matcha and What They Are Used For

Nick Mirev
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    The recent popularity of matcha can easily be explained. As a caffeine drink, it gives a longer energy effect compared to coffee. Furthermore, the strong antioxidant properties of this powdered green tea are just one of its numerous health benefits. That is why it is certain that matcha is not just a temporary beverage trend but will be a popular ingredient for drinks and food in the future as well. Whether you’re a matcha enthusiast or a business owner looking to incorporate matcha into your business, you should know more about the different types of matcha powder. In this blog article, we’ll dive deeper into the topic of matcha types, what they are used for, and how you can distinguish the culinary grade matcha for cooking from the highest grade ceremonial one. 

    Different Types of Matcha Powder

    Traditionally, there are four categories of matcha - ceremonial, premium, culinary, and ingredient.

    Ceremonial Matcha

    This is the highest-quality matcha on the market. Its supply is very low and its price is about 5-10 times higher than that of other types of matcha. It’s made from the youngest tea leaves that have been shaded before being harvested in order to increase the chlorophyll content, enhance the color, and improve the flavor. Ceremonial types of matcha are used primarily in Japanese tea ceremonies. Its color is vibrant green, the texture is smooth, and the taste is slightly sweeter compared to the other varieties. It’s not recommended to use ceremonial matcha for cooking or mixing it with dairy products. The high temperature of preparation will lower the nutritional value of the ingredient. Additionally, when mixed into food, drinks, or cocktails, ceremonial matcha will lose some of its original flavors.

    Premium Matcha

    Its quality is not as high as that of ceremonial-grade matcha. However, it is still expensive and precious green tea powder. Premium grade matcha is made from young leaves as well. The difference with ceremonial is mainly in the shading - the leaves were not under so much shade compared to the highest quality matcha. Its main application is for making hot tea, but it’s used for other matcha drinks as well. 

    Culinary Matcha

    This is one of the most used types of matcha. It’s used for baked goods, desserts, and other dishes. It’s made from older tea leaves and its color is not as green as with high-grade matcha. Instead, it has a more yellow and electric green look. This type of matcha is less sweet than the high grades, but it has a more bitter taste. When cooking with matcha, its flavor has to be complemented by the other ingredients and not overwhelmed.

    Ingredient Matcha

    Even though this is the lowest-quality matcha on the market, it has many applications. Ingredient-grade matcha tea powder is used for making some mass-produced drinks, matcha-flavored snacks, and confectionery. Some restaurants buy both premium and ingredient grades from matcha suppliers so that they can offer both high-quality tea to matcha enthusiasts and more affordable dishes such as matcha desserts.

    Key takeaway: There are four main types of matcha - ceremonial, premium, culinary, and ingredient grade. Ceremonial matcha is used in Japanese tea ceremonies and it’s a very expensive ingredient. Lower-quality matcha has much more applications in cooking, cocktail mixing, and making beverages such as matcha lattes.
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    Differences Between Main Types of Matcha

    Are you wondering how to start a matcha business? In that case, you need to know a lot about this precious ingredient, its characteristics, and how to tell the difference between the different types of matcha.

    Ceremonial Grade Matcha Characteristics

    • Color and texture. Vibrant green. No notes of yellow or brown. The texture of ceremonial matcha powder is smooth and silky.
    • Quality and use. As it is the highest quality matcha on the market, it’s primarily used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies or as a standalone tea beverage.
    • Flavor. Delicate and slightly sweet. There should be little to no bitterness.
    • Source. It’s made from shade-grown plants and their youngest leaves. 

    Premium Grade Matcha Characteristics

    • Color and texture. Similar to ceremonial, it has a vibrant green color and smooth texture. 
    • Quality and use. It is of very high quality, but not the highest one. Premium matcha can still be used as a standalone drink but also can be used in cooking or mixed into other beverages like lattes, smoothies, or cocktails.
    • Flavor. It has a more balanced flavor than the other types of matcha. It’s less sweet than ceremonial, but it has hints of bitterness too. 
    • Source. It’s made from young tea leaves that haven’t been properly shadowed. 

    Culinary and Ingredient Grade Matcha Characteristics

    • Color and texture. The color has some notes of yellow or brown in it, and it’s not as vibrant green as high-grade powder. The texture is slightly rougher and not silky.
    • Quality and use. As the name suggests, it’s used primarily for cooking or mixed drinks. The quality might be lower than the premium and ceremonial types of matcha, but the ingredient is still nutritious, filled with antioxidants, and tasteful.
    • Flavor. The sweetness makes way for the bitterness.
    • Source. It’s made from older matcha tea leaves.
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    What Types of Matcha Are Used in Restaurants?

    Restaurants can benefit from offering matcha-flavored drinks and foods. They can boost customer satisfaction and the loyalty of matcha enthusiast guests. Furthermore, images of dishes and drinks with matcha can help the restaurant’s marketing on social media. If you’re a restaurant manager, and you’re wondering how to incorporate matcha into the menu, here are some things to consider.

    • Culinary-grade matcha is the most used type in restaurants. The main reason for that is the fact that it can be used in baked goods, desserts, sauces, and beverages. In addition, matcha powder can be used for plating and decorating the plate.
      Culinary matcha has a strong flavor and is much more affordable in price compared to ceremonial grade. Its taste is not affected as much by the high temperature during the cooking process as with high-quality matcha.
    • Ceremonial matcha is used mostly by restaurants that focus on Eastern or Japanese cuisine. The main reason for that is its main application - as part of traditional Japanese tea. If used for baking or other forms of cooking, ceremonial matcha loses some of its nutritious and taste properties.
      Even if your venue doesn’t specialize in Japanese dishes, you can still order and use ceremonial-grade matcha on the menu. Furthermore, it can be a form of marketing as well. You can add special food and drink pairings to your breakfast or brunch menu and advertise those on social media. This will certainly create buzz around your restaurant. You can also partner with Japanese tea ceremony specialists and offer master classes to matcha enthusiasts. Restaurant events like that can help with brand awareness of your venue and are a great experience for the participants.
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    Frequently Asked Questions about Matcha Powder Types

    Hopefully, in this article, we’ve answered the majority of your questions and you are no longer wondering what is matcha and what are the variations of this precious powdered green tea. Allow us to answer some additional questions on the matter of matcha.

    Why Is Matcha Trendy?

    The main reason for the popularity of matcha and yerba mate teas is the fact they help with cognitive function and focus. The caffeine content makes matcha drinks a preferred option for many. The main benefit of matcha vs coffee is the fact that the release of energy is much slower compared to coffee’s boost of energy. This gives you a period of 4-6 hours in which matcha’s caffeine energizes you.

    Where to Buy Matcha?

    Many websites sell different types of matcha. Additionally, you can find it on some of the popular platforms such as Amazon. Some companies specialize in importing ingredients from Japan and selling matcha wholesale in large quantities. You can also check local stores selling organic and natural products.

    Where Is Matcha Consumed the Most?

    Japan is the biggest producer and exporter of matcha. Naturally, the ingredient is most popular there and the Japanese matcha industry is considered the best in the world. Additionally, matcha has a central part in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Besides Japan, the countries that consume the most matcha are China, Sri Lanka, and India.

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