How to buy BEST Matcha for your health and beauty
We now know how fabulous matcha green tea is and quality does huge difference in taste and health benefits. There are lots of grades of Matcha available on the market. From very high quality to very poor quality. Even in Japan, some Matcha can be 50g for $100! You don’t need to spend money on the most expensive Matcha as long as you know what to look for:
- Product of Japan
- Ceremonial grade
- First flush
- Stone ground
Maybe you won’t be able to find all of these but the top three are the most important.
I hate to say that Japanese tea farmers spray much higher amounts of pesticide over green tea leaves compared to Europe and other more developed countries and also use pesticides that are banned in some countries… so sad! So it is crucial to use the organic one to avoid these harmful chemicals.
Why Product of Japan?
ONLY JAPANESE green tea leaves are steamed straight away after harvesting the leaves, meaning higher in antioxidants, brighter green color, and more flavor.
Why Ceremonial grade?
Matcha can be used for two different purposes. One is for ceremonial use (for drinking), and the other is for use in cooking.
Quite often artificial coloring is added to cooking purpose Matcha to keep the bright color after baking or cooking. Good quality ceremonial grade tea uses stone ground first flush tea leaves so when you buy organic ceremonial grade tea from Japan; you are all set!
Why First flush tea leaves?
Because first flush tea leaves contain more nutrients especially amino acids (theanine) which are a component for umami/sweetness and a contributor in reducing stress. The tea tree is an evergreen tree and will not die even in winter. However, because growth requires specific temperatures and the sunshine, activity stops during the winter. Therefore, it cannot be harvested during this time. The tea tree slowly rests and stores nutrients during this period and grows young leaves that contain lots of nutrition in the spring. For this reason, it is said that 70% of the nutrients stored during the winter are contained in the leaves, and buds picked first. Cooking purpose Matcha uses the tea leaves that come after the second harvest and have a strong bitter flavor which is not suitable for drinking. The first flush tea leaves have a refreshing fragrance not found in the second and third harvest of tea leaves, which are only used for cooking. These second and third harvests are also known as ‘the autumn leaves’ whereas first flush is known as spring leaves.
Why Stone ground?
When there is unevenness in the size of the grain, it does not become a smooth consistency. Also, rubbing things produces frictional heat, but in the case of Matcha, scent and flavour will diminish when frictional heat is generated. High-speed machines work quickly but do not achieve the right consistency needed for good Matcha, which is a fine even powder. Stone ground Matcha has a much more even consistency and due to less heat being produced, is of much higher quality.