Japanese matcha is becoming increasingly popular worldwide as more and more people become aware of the tea’s unique taste, colour and potentially amazing health benefits.
Without stepping foot in the tea’s homeland, one can easily look up all sorts of information about matcha on the Internet. The problem is that the majority of this information is provided by groups trying to sell matcha teas; websites like these rarely explain the most important points for first time buyers trying to get to grips with the world of matcha.
To find out for myself I asked a ridgey didge Japanese company in Chiba Prefecture, who certainly are passionate about matcha. Here, they lay out the basic facts to help us better understand
How To Choose Organic Matcha Tea
1. Firstly, matcha is priced in a rather unique way in Japan. Each tea produced is given a price based on quality (colour, taste, scent and so on), but there are no scientific standards used to determine these features. Rather, it is a human process based solely on the five senses of the tea experts at each production company. This means that two different products from two different companies might have the same price but look and taste noticeably different. To give a brief explanation, higher grade matcha teas will have a very bright, vivid colour, and contain no notes of bitterness or harshness. In contrast, lower grade matcha teas are much less vividly coloured (often appearing more yellow than green) and their flavour contains stronger bitter notes. (However, note that this bitterness complements sweet cooking perfectly, and for that reason, lower grade matcha is used when making matcha food products.)
2. There is not a large amount of organic matcha produced in Japan. This is an important point. The reason for this is that fertiliser-free, organic matcha leaves tend to lack a variety of nutrients, which results in a bitter tasting final product. As a result, bitter organic matcha teas are sold at relatively low prices in Japan. It is possible to find delicious organically produced matcha teas which are grown using special organic fertilisers, but due to the increased manpower necessary to produce these, their prices are higher than normal matcha teas.
3. When you drink matcha, you ingest the tea leaf in its powdered form. As such, it is understandable that health conscious customers would find organically produced matcha more appealing. But you should be aware of the dangers of buying organic matcha outside Japan, as in many cases a tea that would fetch a low price in Japan is sold at a much higher price abroad as a ‘ceremonial organic matcha’. The Japanese don’t normally use organic matcha for tea ceremonies.
So, how should you pick a good matcha tea? In Japan, it is usually by trust of the tea brand. There are several famous, long-standing matcha production companies in Japan which take the utmost pride in their teas. As the world of matcha is highly competitive, they cannot afford to market poor quality products, as their customers would simply switch to another brand. Even among the teas of these famous brands, each product has subtle differences; it is best to try out different brands and find the tea which suits you best. I have tried several myself but after trying the products Organic Matcha from Grace and Green I was blown away by the difference in taste quality with no bitterness at all.
Unfortunately most of the matcha sold outside Japan has been rebranded by secondary sellers and so it can often be unclear which Japanese company produced the tea. In order for demand to grow for better quality matcha outside Japan, tea drinkers need to inform themselves about matcha and become able to judge the value of the products they try for themselves.
Matcha Banana Bread
- 2 ripe bananas
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup nut milk
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 2 tbs rice malt syrup
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 cup gluten free flour or alternative
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbs organic matcha
How to Make
1. Preheat oven to 160 degree in a fan forced oven. Lightly spray a loaf pan with coconut oil.
In a medium-sized bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Add the eggs, nut milk, coconut oil and rice malt syrup and mix well.
2. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a separate bowl. The coconut flour, gluten free flour, matcha, and baking soda. Transfer this mixture into the wet ingredients and mix well.
3. Pour into the prepared pan and top with banana chips and bake for 50 minutes or until it until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry. Remember the end result is a dense loaf rather than a springy cake.