What Does Matcha Taste Like?

You’ve probably heard of matcha - a bright green powdered tea from Japan - but do you know what it tastes like? Matcha has a bright, vegetal, and slightly bitter taste, with notes of sweetness and umami.

High quality ceremonial grade matcha is suitable to drink on its own, while culinary grade matcha can be added to lattes, smoothies, and more. Matcha is full of concentrated amounts of all of the many health benefits of green tea. It’s also high in caffeine, making it a healthy and energizing tea to start the day with!

Matcha tasting notes

Wondering what matcha tastes like? You’re not alone. Many of our customers are familiar with matcha, whether on its own, as an ingredient in tea lattes, or as a flavoring for baked goods and other concoctions. But they may not know exactly what high-quality matcha tastes like, or they may be apprehensive that it will be too strong or bitter for their palate.

While pure ceremonial grade matcha definitely has a bold flavor profile, it’s also full of a surprising amount of nuance. When prepared as part of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, matcha is carefully shared and savored among friends using a ritualized preparation method. By taking a moment to slow down and really focus on the experience of drinking matcha and the different tasting notes present in the tea, you can unlock new depths of flavor!

Vegetal

One of the most prominent tasting notes in high quality matcha is a grassy, vegetal flavor. Matcha is made from green tea leaves that are harvested, steamed, and stone-ground into a fine powder. The steaming process, common to Japanese green teas, results in stronger vegetal notes than Chinese green teas, which are pan-fired and tend to be nuttier and milder as a result.

Because it’s made from whole ground tea leaves, matcha is often described as having an even stronger and more concentrated “green tea” flavor.

Umami

Another indicator of high quality matcha is a pronounced umami flavor. Umami is a rich, savory flavor also found in foods like bone broth and miso soup. When present in matcha, this umami flavor is also sometimes described as oceanic, similar to seaweed.

The shading process that matcha tea plants undergo contributes to their umami flavor. These plants are shaded for up to three weeks prior to harvest, which increases the chlorophyll levels in the plants and produces a rich, savory flavor. It also increases the levels of caffeine and l-theanine. Kabusecha and Gyokuro are two other prominent examples of shade-grown Japanese loose leaf green tea.

Sweet

Matcha has a subtle, lingering sweetness. While pure matcha won’t be as sweet as, say, a matcha latte, it has a light natural sweetness that helps to balance out the other strong flavor notes present in this unique tea. In the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, matcha is often served alongside small sweets, which help to accentuate the sweetness naturally present in the tea.

Bitter

Matcha has a slight earthy bitterness. While low quality or improperly prepared matcha can be unpleasantly bitter, the best matcha has subtle bitter notes that combine with and complement the other flavors in the tea. Matcha also has a pleasantly astringent bite.

Smooth

Smoothness is another characteristic of good ceremonial grade matcha. Matcha is often described as smooth, rich, and almost buttery, with a full body and lingering aftertaste. If you’re preparing matcha using a traditional method, using a matcha sifter and whisking your matcha using a matcha whisk can help to ensure that your matcha is smooth, rich, and frothy rather than thin and clumped together.

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About matcha

Matcha is a fine powdered tea with a bright, emerald green color and a rich, vegetal taste. It’s made from stone-ground green tea leaves and produced in Japan. Matcha tea plants are shaded for at least three weeks prior to harvest. After the leaves are harvested, they are then steamed, stone-ground, and packaged for sale.

Powdered green tea was first produced in China, but was introduced to Japan in the 12th century. Matcha is an important part of Japanese culture, and the traditional Japanese tea ceremony is used to prepare matcha using a ritualized method developed over the course of centuries. Matcha can be enjoyed on its own, and is also a popular ingredient in lattes, smoothies, and baked goods.

Ceremonial vs. culinary grade matcha

Matcha comes in two main grades or categories: ceremonial grade matcha and culinary grade matcha. Ceremonial grade matcha is designed to be enjoyed on its own, and has a subtle and complex flavor. Culinary grade matcha is designed to be added to smoothies and other concoctions, and has a bolder flavor. Both types of matcha are tasty, and there’s no one type of matcha that is necessarily “better” than the other. They each have different purposes and strengths!

Matcha tea benefits

Matcha contains a concentrated amount of the many benefits of green tea. These include:

  • High in EGCG

  • Boosts energy

  • Reduces stress

  • Improves cognitive function

  • Good for your teeth

  • Good for your metabolism

  • High in antioxidants

  • Good for your heart

  • Improves longevity

  • Good for your skin

  • Boosts your immune system

  • Reduces inflammation

  • Good for digestion

How to prepare matcha

To make matcha at home, heat cold, filtered water to approximately 175 degrees. Scoop the matcha powder into a sifter using a matcha scoop (we recommend about two scoops, or approximately one teaspoon, of matcha powder per bowl.) Sift the powder into your matcha bowl, then add a small amount of hot water and use a bamboo matcha whisk to whisk the tea until a smooth paste is formed. Then add up to 6 ounces of water, and whisk until frothy.

New to the world of matcha and not sure where to begin? Our matcha starter kit contains everything you need to make matcha at home, including a tin of ceremonial grade matcha, matcha bowl, scoop, whisk, whisk holder, and sifter.

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FAQs

Have questions about matcha? We have answers!

Does matcha taste like green tea?

Matcha is often described as having an even stronger and more intense green tea flavor. This is because you’re consuming the entire tea leaf when you drink matcha.

Is matcha sweet?

High quality matcha has a light natural sweetness. While it’s not sweet like sugar or candy, you can definitely taste subtle sweet notes.

Does matcha taste like fish?

While it may sound a little strange, matcha does have oceanic, umami notes reminiscent of the sea. Although it doesn’t have an unpleasant “fishy” taste, it can taste a little like seaweed.

What is matcha made out of?

Matcha is made out of shade-grown, stone-ground Japanese green tea leaves. These teas are shaded for several weeks prior to harvest, then steamed and ground into a fine powder.

Does matcha have caffeine?

Matcha is high in caffeine, containing about as much as coffee per cup. The shading process increases the caffeine and l-theanine content in this tea. Although it’s relatively high in caffeine, matcha is often described as having a calmer and more sustained energizing effect than other high-caffeine beverages.

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