Don't look for Ceremonial Grade Matcha. Because, unfortunately, anyone can claim that their matcha is "Ceremonial Grade". We've been seeing a lot of this matcha-marketing popping up in recent years. In Japan (the best country to buy matcha from), they don't fall into this marketing trap; instead, they judge matcha based on the following telltale factors:
- Depth of Flavor
- Fineness of Matcha Powder
There are certain cultivars that have varying levels of all of the above (some richer and more potent in specific health benefits than others).
What's really frustrating (and one of the main reasons that I decided to launch my own company, Johnny Matcha) is because people were just trying to profit off of the popularity of matcha. They say one thing and do another. They say they have amazing matcha that's super good for you, but, in reality, they have a low quality product that can actually be more detrimental to your health instead of beneficial. (More on that to come in future blogs). They profit off of the uninformed and when asked about their matcha, they don't give specifics. They simply claim it's ceremonial grade and hope you don't do any research for yourself. Don't get me wrong... there is really amazing matcha out there that does everything that you've heard it does! But if you see matcha and it's priced really low, then you can almost bet that it's not what it actually says it is--unless they say "culinary" or "ingredient grade", then they're just being straight up and telling you it's really low grade. If you're unsure, I always say, buy it and test it for yourself. Use what you now know matcha gets graded on (color, brightness, depth of flavor, smell, and fineness of matcha powder). That should help to set the good matcha apart from the bad.
The reason that you'll see such discrepancies in the pricing of matcha is because of the process that real matcha goes through. This process makes it a much more expensive drink than what most "matcha" is sold for. (If you would like further detail on that process, check out my blog titled "What is Matcha?".) Additionally, look for where the matcha is grown. We want matcha from Japan. Japan has the highest quality matcha in the world, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all Japanese matcha is high quality. Regions that are known for producing high quality matcha are Uji, Kyoto, and Nishio, Aichi. Uji, Kyoto is the most famed of them all with its matcha being revered throughout the whole world. That's why we only sell matcha from Uji, Kyoto.
When I started my matcha journey almost eight years ago, I had to go through the trial and error process for years to find out all of this information. Once I understood how to actually find not just good, but truly excellent matcha, all I wanted to do was have people try it! I'm so grateful that I get to share the matcha that took me all these years to find. Love you all! Sláinte!
- Johnny Matcha