What Is Matcha? A Comprehensive Guide on Matcha Green Tea

July 16, 2023
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For the past decades, matcha has become increasingly popular among people in the US. But what is matcha and what is the reason behind its success? Matcha is made from Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub commonly known as tea plant or tea tree. The literal meaning of the word ‘matcha’ is ground and powdered tea. The plant is shade-grown. After the leaves are gathered, they are ground into fine powder. This green substance is then used for a variety of things. Most notably, as part of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

What Is Matcha - Flavor and Characteristics

Being rich in flavor and caffeine, matcha is a preferred drink for many people in China, Japan, and India. Its savory and slightly sweet taste makes it a great ingredient for various drinks such as matcha lattes or Frappuccino. Its green color varies from vibrant green to a more yellowish green. The color depends mostly on the chlorophyll content in the leaves. The highest grades of matcha are vibrant green while the cheaper options are a bit yellower.

The pigments in matcha are among the reasons why it’s becoming popular in the culinary world as well. Its unique flavor and color help create unique desserts and baked goods. Matcha cakes, matcha cookies, and matcha ice cream are just some of the popular examples.

How to Grow Matcha

If you already know what is matcha tea, you might want to know how it’s grown. There is a reason why matcha’s supply is much lower than the demand. The process of growing it and making high-quality powder requires a lot of knowledge and labor.

Ceremonial-grade matcha is grown in shaded conditions. This increases the chlorophyll content and flavor. After the leaves are ready, they are harvested and dried. Then it’s time to grind them into powder. All these processes require manual labor which is the main reason for the high price of matha.

How to Start a Matcha Business

Now that you know what is matcha, you might consider starting a business in this niche. Undoubtedly, there is a lot of potential for growth in the matcha market.

  • Opening a matcha cafe. There are more and more matcha enthusiasts out there, especially among young people. That makes opening a matcha shop or cafe a great business opportunity. Don’t forget about offering online deliveries via solutions like Revolution Ordering. A matcha cafe can also offer packaged matcha powder, baked goods, and matcha desserts.
  • Matcha store. Selling matcha products can be a great source of income. The recommended way to do so is with an online eCommerce store. You can also expand the products in the future by offering other tea alternatives such as yerba mate or by selling matcha subscription boxes.
  • Matcha wholesale business. The demand for matcha is increasing dramatically in recent years. That means a matcha wholesale business is practically guaranteed to have a lot of clients. A few examples of potential clients are cafes, retail stores, country clubs, hotel franchises, restaurants, and bakeries. The main problem matcha importers and suppliers face is finding reliable producers of the precious ingredient. 
  • Matcha beauty products. The health benefits of matcha make it great for skincare products. Selling matcha body scrubs, face masks, or other matcha-infused products is still a fairly small niche that is undoubtedly going to expand. 

Matcha Wholesale

Who Buys Wholesale Matcha

  • Cafes and coffee shops. More and more people are choosing a fresh matcha beverage instead of coffee. That’s why cafes are among the biggest businesses that need matcha. Along with them, juice and smoothie bars also stock high-grade matcha. It’s used as an ingredient in smoothies, shakes, and other beverages.
  • Restaurants and bakeries. As matcha is used in a variety of baked goods and desserts, a lot of bakeries buy matcha for their products. Restaurants are also potential clients for wholesale matcha suppliers. What is matcha used for in restaurants? Dishes, sauces, tea, cocktails, and other applications.
    Hotels that accommodate many guests from Asian countries or have an Asian-inspired experience also might need large quantities of the precious green powdered tea.
  • Health stores and health-focused businesses. Gyms and wellness centers might offer matcha beverages or procedures with matcha-infused products. Health stores are also a big potential niche for matcha suppliers.
  • Tea and spice shops. Tea is one of the most popular beverages worldwide. There are many tea enthusiasts and a lot of them enjoy matcha. 

Where to Buy Matcha

B2B matcha trades usually happen with the help of online marketplaces such as BlueCart. These solutions help businesses find wholesale suppliers for a variety of products. A lot of producers also have logistics solutions. This means businesses that need large quantities of matcha can contact Japanese matcha producers directly and buy from them. This saves money as there are no intermediaries involved. 

The food and beverage industry is huge. That’s why there are many national and international trade shows. At these exhibitions, matcha suppliers and businesses can meet with potential partners and exchange experiences with other professionals from the tea industry. You can also find companies that import food products from Japan. A lot of them might be able to import matcha powder as well. Additionally, these companies are familiar with laws and regulations regarding the import of food products.

How to Become a Matcha Tea Supplier

What You Need to Become a Matcha Tea Supplier?

  • Certifications. Research all regulations required to start a matcha business. As a matcha supplier, you’ll trade with producers from Japan as well. This means you might need to get additional certifications related to import regulations.
  • Matcha sources. As the demand for matcha grows, the supply struggles to catch up. One of the main issues for a matcha wholesale supplier is to find reliable producers of the green tea powder. You can contact such farms in Japan directly and offer them better conditions than the ones they already have with other matcha buyers.
  • Branding, packaging, and marketing. Matcha tea suppliers can maximize profits if they sell the product to retail customers. This requires investments in branding, marketing, and packaging.
  • Prices and sales. Doing a thorough market analysis of the matcha industry is important in order to have optimal prices for the different grades of matcha. This should be combined with sales efforts as well. Consider finding both big clients that buy matcha in large quantities and sell to matcha enthusiasts who consume matcha drinks at their homes.

Best Matcha Drinks

The Most Popular Matcha Drinks

  • Traditional matcha tea. The Japanese tea ceremony is known across the globe. The tea that is used in this centuries-old tradition is matcha.
  • Matcha latte. It can be both hot and cold. Matcha lattes are an excellent refreshing drink to give you an energizing boost in the morning or afternoon.
  • Matcha Frappuccino. This beverage consists of matcha, milk, ice, and cream. The drink is especially popular in the hot summer days and variations of it can be added to a seasonal menu.
  • Matcha smoothie. Restaurants might benefit by adding energizing, nutritious, and filling beverages to their menus. What is a matcha smoothie? It’s a mix of matcha, milk, bananas, spinach, or other ingredients. 
  • Matcha lemonade. Lemon juice combines excellently with matcha powder. The beverage is a great addition to a brunch menu.
  • Matcha bubble tea. Tapioca pearls can be combined with matcha powder and milk. The resulting boba tea is an excellent drink for every season. Its chewy texture and fresh matcha flavor make it a great addition to every restaurant’s menu.
  • Matcha mojito. Matcha cocktails are becoming more popular as well. There are some classical cocktails, like the mojito, where matcha can be an excellent addition.

Why Restaurants Should Offer Matcha Drinks

  • Menu diversification. A lot of people are wondering what is matcha tea. This means customers that want to try something new might be encouraged to taste beverages with matcha.
  • Customer satisfaction and loyalty. Matcha enjoyers will strive to visit places that offer their favorite green tea. This means you can turn them into loyal customers by offering this tasty powdered green tea.
  • High profits. Matcha is a fairly expensive type of tea. This means your venue can increase its restaurant profit margin by offering matcha drinks and food.
  • Marketing benefits. You should encourage your customers to post on social media about their experience at your restaurant. Matcha can be a great asset for social media marketing for restaurants. Its vibrant green color makes for an interesting photo and will help increase brand awareness for your place.

Cooking with Matcha

What Can Be Cooked with Matcha

  • Baked goods. Matcha can add unique flavor and interesting green color to baked goods. That’s why more and more recipes emerge in that field. A business can also use matcha as part of their bakery marketing to attract matcha enthusiasts as customers and also attract likes on social media with unique green products.
  • Desserts. Matcha pairs well with vanilla, chocolate, and other sweet flavors. Matcha cakes and ice cream are the most popular desserts with this ingredient. However, you can also find cookies, muffins, and cupcakes made with powdered green tea.
  • Pasta. Adding matcha to the dough of pasta or noodles will give them an exotic green color. The added savory flavor will also make your guest enjoy the dish.

Benefits of Offering Matcha Dishes in Venues

Matcha foods in a restaurant’s menu have the potential to attract matcha enthusiasts to the venue. Additionally, the vibrant green color of this ingredient can be used to make interesting baked goods, sauces, and dishes that have the wow factor.

Another reason why a restaurant should add matcha foods and beverages to their regular or seasonal menu is the fact that matcha is a fairly expensive type of tea. That being said, people will be eager to pay more for matcha food or drink which can further increase the profits of the restaurant.

Restaurants should always adapt. Currently, a lot of people are striving to eat healthy. Matcha can be a great addition to the menu in that regard. It’s rich in antioxidants and gives people a steadier energy boost compared to coffee. You can experiment with different menu items and see how various matcha drinks or foods are performing.

Types of Matcha

Ceremonial-Grade Matcha

This is the most expensive matcha tea powder on the market. Its name comes from the fact that this is the only grade used for the Japanese tea ceremony. Being the highest quality matcha powder, it’s recommended to use it for traditional tea. There’s no point in cooking with ceremonial-grade matcha as the process will remove most of its benefits and lower its nutritional value.

Premium-Grade Matcha

The quality of this green tea powder is still very high, but it’s not the highest. It’s used for tea, matcha beverages, and in some matcha recipes.

Culinary-Grade Matcha

As its name suggests, this tea powder is used primarily for cooking. It still contains a lot of antioxidants and has a great taste. 

Ingredient-Grade Matcha

This is the lowest-quality matcha tea available. It’s still very nutritious and has many health benefits, but it’s made from slightly older leaves and has a yellowish-green color. It’s used primarily in mass-produced drinks, snacks, sweets, and other items from the food and beverage industry

Matcha VS Coffee

A lot of coffee enjoyers might be asking what is matcha. The ingredient is becoming popular lately while coffee has been one of the most consumed beverages in the US for quite some time. There are a few similarities between matcha and coffee. Both coffee and matcha tea are caffeine drinks. They can be consumed hot and cold. Matcha and coffee can be used as ingredients for a variety of mixed drinks like lattes and smoothies.

Differences between Matcha and Coffee

  • Preparation. Both matcha and coffee are ground. The difference is that matcha is always ground to fine powder while coffee can be prepared from coarse grind beans.
  • Taste. Coffee’s flavor depends a lot on the brewing method, the roast level, and the origins of the beans. Some coffees have a bold and bitter taste while others can be more acidic. On the other hand, matcha has a typical savory flavor. It’s grassy and slightly sweet as well. 
  • Caffeine content. Coffee contains more caffeine than matcha beverages. However, matcha gives a more constant energizing feeling for about 4-6 hours. Coffee’s energy boost is stronger but lasts for 1-3 hours.
  • Health benefits. Matcha is decisively winning in this category. Being a great antioxidant and source of nutrients, it also helps metabolism and immune function.

Yerba Mate VS Matcha

If you ask someone in South America whether they know what is matcha, their answer will probably be negative. Mate, on the other hand, is one of the most popular drinks on the continent. It’s made from the leaves of yerba mate and is a tea with a herbal flavor. Like matcha, mate is a caffeine beverage, but it’s much weaker than coffee.

Matcha has a lot more health benefits compared to yerba mate. It has more antioxidants, higher nutritional value, and provides a combination of a calming effect and increased concentration. 

What Is Matcha’s Future

The matcha market is expected to triple in the next 10 years. The industry’s size for 2023 is expected to be $2.7 billion. Most of that is thanks to the popularity of matcha in Japan, China, India, Korea, and other Asian countries. For comparison, the US matcha market’s size is around $90 million. Key reasons why matcha’s future looks bright:

  • Matcha has applications in the beauty industry;
  • Matcha is fairly new to the Western market. Nevertheless, it is growing rapidly not just in the US, but also in Canada, Germany, France, and the UK;
  • Matcha’s supply will catch up to its demand. This will give opportunities to market the precious green tea powder more aggressively;
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