In this ever-evolving world that is obsessed with trying new flavors, matcha is a new flavor that is catching up. Have you ever wondered what is so special about matcha that everyone is going ga-ga over it? In this article, I will tell you all about what matcha tastes like and why this ingredient is gaining popularity.
Matcha generally comes in two forms: ceremonial grade matcha and culinary grade matcha. There is a little difference in the intensity of the flavors of the two types. However, the overall flavor of matcha is usually mellow with vegetal, grassy notes, along with a natural sweet nuttiness and bitterness, followed by a savory aftertaste.
The two varieties of matcha mentioned above have various uses. When we talk about ceremonial grade matcha, it is most often added to beverages, whereas culinary matcha is a great addition to desserts. I am sure you must have come across various desserts that use matcha or even matcha lattes!
But are you a little skeptical about trying it? Yes, matcha-based products can be a little on the higher end as far as the expense is concerned. So, before you experiment with your taste buds with a new flavor that you are not sure if you will like, read this article. You will get to know in detail the flavors of both types of matcha mentioned above.
What Is Matcha?
Firstly, let me clear a misconception that many have. Matcha is not green tea but a type of green tea. Specialized growing and processing techniques are used to turn green tea leaves, also known as Camellia Sinensis leaves, into matcha.
To make matcha, the tea plant or Camellia Sinensis plant is grown in the shade towards the last few weeks of the harvest to slow down its growth. This helps the tea leaves get their distinct characteristics, such as their intense green color.
Once the leaves are harvested, they are dried quickly to reduce oxidation. After drying, the stems are removed, and the leaves are ground into a fine powder. The grinding is done in a slow turning wheel which grinds only 40 grams at a time.
This is done to minimize friction and preserve its nutrients, aroma, and natural green color of it. This gives rise to a powder which we all know by the name ‘matcha.’
Now, tea that is grown specifically to make matcha comes primarily from two regions in Japan. These regions are Uji in Kyoto and Nishio in the Aichi prefecture.
What Does Matcha Taste Like?
Mainly, there are two types of matcha that are sold: Culinary grade and Ceremonial grade matcha. Both types of matcha have an undertone grassy flavor with hints of sweetness and bitterness. However, the concentration of these flavors varies in both types.
Culinary grade matcha has a much stronger flavor than ceremonial grade matcha. The strongest flavor profile in culinary grade matcha is bitter. In fact, the bitterness is to such a high degree that culinary grade matcha cannot be enjoyed on its own.
This is why culinary-grade matcha is usually used in dessert recipes or blended in different drinks such as matcha lattes. Ceremonial matcha, on the other hand, has a very neutral flavor with barely any bitterness to it. The flavor is also a little sweet, along with being neutral.
Culinary grade matcha often blends really well with sweeteners. Hence the flavor! Even though it’s bitter, it gets subdued and works well in desserts and drinks. Ceremonial grade, on the other hand, is so neutral that you won’t be able to taste it in desserts or drinks that have other stronger flavors.
These are the main differences in the flavor between the two types of matcha. However, as I mentioned earlier, there are certain similar flavors that both these types carry. Let me tell you a little more in detail about the exact flavors that you would find in both grades of matcha.
While preparing matcha, a steaming process is carried out. Steaming is common in Japanese teas, as compared to Chinese teas, which are pan-fried. The steaming process results in a highly vegetal flavor in the matcha. The flavor gets almost grassy and has a higher concentration of a green tea flavor as compared to green tea itself.
Umami is an extremely rich, savory flavor, quite often found in meat. As matcha leaves undergo a process of shading, it contributes to their umami flavor. This umami flavor present in matcha is an indicator of high-quality matcha leaves. The flavor is quite often compared to the flavor of seaweed.
Both types of matcha have a subtle sweet flavor to them. Although the sweetness cannot be compared to the flavor of a matcha latte, you will get notes of slight sweetness from both types. The sweetness is usually more prominent in ceremonial grade matcha as compared to culinary grade matcha.
Matcha has a slight earthy bitterness to it. However, this only applies to ceremonial grade matcha. Culinary grade matcha, in comparison, can be extremely bitter. This is the reason it is quite often used to make desserts or lattes, where the flavor can be masked with the addition of sugar.
Another quality of ceremonial grade matcha, as compared to culinary grade matcha, is that it has a smooth flavor. Culinary grade matcha is also smooth, but the characteristics are more pronounced in ceremonial grade matcha. The smoothness will be rich and almost buttery.
What Does Matcha’s Taste Compare To?
When it comes to trying new flavors, a lot of us want to know what the flavor of a particular ingredient would compare with. This is quite natural, considering the fact that once we compare flavors, we know better what to expect when we try something new.
So, you all know what the basic flavors of matcha are like. But, let me tell you what is the closest flavor that you can compare matcha with.
Technically, there are two flavors with which matcha has close similarities. The first and closest flavor that you can compare matcha with is the flavor of green tea. Matcha has the same grassy and vegetal notes as green tea do, along with a lingering bitterness and sweetness.
Other than that, considering the fact that the vegetal flavor in matcha is more prominent than that in green tea, matcha is also often compared to the flavor of certain vegetables, like spinach.
Is Matcha Bitter Or Sweet?
We all love sugar, don’t we? Even if it isn’t necessarily sugar, sweet flavors are often preferred by many of us. On the other hand, most of us try to avoid eating or drinking something that tastes bitter. So, with matcha, many of you may want to know whether it is sweet or bitter, just to be prepared for what to expect out of it.
Culinary grade matcha, although it has a little amount of sweetness to it, is mostly just plain bitter. This is one of the main reasons why culinary grade matcha is used in recipes where the addition of sugar can mask the bitterness.
Ceremonial grade matcha is usually consumed as it is. So, the flavor you can expect out of it is a balance of natural sweetness and bitterness. Although, neither of these flavors is as prominent and are usually balanced. This makes ceremonial grade matcha neither too bitter nor too sweet but rather balanced.
Does Matcha Taste Better Hot Or Cold?
Matcha can be consumed in both hot and cold forms. Although with culinary grade matcha, as it is mixed in with sweeteners, it usually ends up coming down to personal preference.
However, since ceremonial grade matcha does not have any added sweeteners, the temperature can play a part in the overall flavor. So, does matcha actually taste best when it is hot, or does the flavor not change in either case? Let’s have a look!
Matcha tastes alright either way. However, hot matcha does tend to bring out a more pronounced bitter flavor as compared to cold matcha. This mainly happens because most people end up brewing their matcha with extremely hot water.
This ends up bringing out bitter tones and makes all other flavors in matcha seem flat. So, if brewed properly, matcha does taste around the same in both hot and cold forms. However, if not, matcha tastes better when it is cold.
Does Matcha Taste Fishy?
This may sound strange to many; however, due to the characteristic vegetal taste in matcha, it does have a sort of oceanic taste to it. But, there have been instances where people have referred to their matcha as having a fishy flavor.
The real question that may come to most of our minds is, how can tea taste fishy? Is it even supposed to taste fishy? Let me help you understand this phenomenon.
Although matcha does have a seaweed-like flavor attached to it due to the vegetal notes, under no circumstances should it taste fishy. A fishy flavor is really pungent and is something you should not expect out of your matcha.
In case your matcha does taste fishy, its quality has either gone down, or it was bad quality matcha, to begin with.
What Does Matcha Latte Taste Like?
Matcha lattes have become quite popular in recent years. Everywhere you look, you’d end up seeing at least one person carrying a green latte. Although most of us associate lattes with coffee, this green latte has come a long way.
So, what is it about this latte that makes it so popular? It is the flavor combinations, of course! So, let me answer what exactly a matcha latte tastes like.
Matcha latte is usually made with culinary grade matcha, as ceremonial grade matcha tastes very light. Culinary grade matcha has a more bitter tone to it.
However, when mixed with milk and sugar, they tend to bring out all the flavors present in the matcha. So, all in all, matcha latte would taste like a combination of sweet, bitter, umami, and vegetal flavors.
What Does Matcha Ice Cream Taste Like?
Matcha ice cream is also a popular variation made with matcha. Also often made with culinary-grade matcha, this ice cream is a delight to have. We almost always associate the flavor of ice cream with being really sweet and creamy.
Although that is somewhat the case with matcha ice cream, too, it also has certain other undertone flavors that are worth mentioning.
The sugar and cream present in the matcha ice cream do give it a sweet flavor. However, with matcha ice cream, culinary grade matcha is used to make it. Culinary-grade matcha naturally has a more bitter flavor.
So, when added to an ice cream recipe, the bitter flavor does stand out, along with the sweetness of the sugar. However, the flavor is not extremely bitter and is pretty much balanced with the sweetness.
What Does Matcha Boba Taste Like?
Most types of boba have a sweet and refreshing taste. Moreover, they are so much fun to drink with the chewy boba pearls at the base. However, I have mentioned many times that drinks made with matcha use culinary grade matcha, which is, well, bitter. So, you may wonder if matcha boba actually has a bitter taste.
With boba drinks, there is usually a lot of milk and sugar added to them. So is the case with matcha boba. You may get slight bitter notes out of a matcha boba due to the natural flavor of matcha.
However, the overall flavor is usually sweet, milky, and creamy, along with an earthy aftertaste. The boba pearls at the base are sweet and chewy, which adds a lot to the flavor.
Does Matcha Taste Like Green Tea?
I am sure the by now you have read this several times that matcha is a type of green tea. Though regular drinkers of green tea and matcha may know the obvious difference in the flavor of the two, for those who have not tried matcha before, it may be a difficult avenue to explore. So, let me tell you the difference between the flavors of these two beverages.
Both matcha and green tea are derived from the same plant- Camellia sinensis. However, they are two different beverages with different flavor profiles, methods of cultivation and preparation and even health benefits. Both green tea and matcha have a similar base flavor profile that is earthy and grassy.
However, the similarities in their flavors end there. The flavor of green tea is light, fresh and delicate. Green tea manufacturers often add other herbs to the concotion. So, green tea can have citrus, ginger, honety and other aromas and flavors.
Matcha has a much more intense flavor then green tea does. Depending on whether the matcha is culinary grade or ceremonial grade matcha, the flavor will be slightly bitter.
Ceremonial grade matcha will have a slight undertone bitterness but will mostly be neutral. Culinary grade matcha has a more intense flavor with higher bitter notes.
Does Matcha Taste Like Coffee?
Both matcha and coffee are drinks that are highly popular. They both provide a certain amount of energy and the real kick that you want early in the morning. Although they both have similar characteristics, they are actually different types of plantations. So, do their flavors actually compare with each other or not?
Both matcha and coffee have a lingering bitter taste, that is there for sure. However, coffee tends to taste more bitter and has a roasted and nutty flavor to it.
Matcha, on the other hand, has a bitter taste that is balanced with various other flavors, such as earthy, vegetal, and sweet. This earthy flavor is not really found in coffee. So, all in all, matcha and coffee do not taste the same.
Does Matcha Taste Like Grass?
Matcha does have a flavor that is described as earthy or grassy. This flavor is almost vegetal and is often compared to the flavor of certain green leafy vegetables, like spinach. So, to really answer this question, it can be said that matcha does taste grassy.
However, this quality can only be found in high-grade matcha, where the grassy flavor comes out in a subtle way and gets balanced with the rest of the flavors. In case you are stuck with lower-quality matcha, the grassy flavor will not be balanced the way it is supposed to.
Does Matcha Have Caffeine?
Caffeine is something that drives a lot of us early in the morning. Some of us find it difficult to start our day without caffeine, as we don’t really get the kick without it. So yes, caffeine is an important part of many of our daily routines.
However, some of you may have thought about switching to matcha from coffee. But will matcha give you that kick, or does it even have caffeine in it?
Matcha does have caffeine in it. It has a higher amount of caffeine than any other type of green tea. Usually, matcha does not contain as much caffeine as coffee does when we talk about a standard serving of the same.
However, some people do tend to use a lot of matcha powder, which can make it more caffeinated than a cup of coffee.
How Does Matcha Taste At Different Restaurant Chains?
Matcha, due to its ever-increasing popularity, is something that all major restaurant chains have caught up with. Most restaurant chains serve different varieties of matcha, with matcha drinks like lattes being the most popular. However, some restaurants have picked up the matcha concept and serve more than just drinks!
Let me give you a detailed guide about some of the most famous chains of restaurants and cafes, with what they offer and what the taste of matcha is like at that particular restaurant.
Starbucks mostly serves two variations of a matcha drink. These are matcha latte and iced matcha latte. Matcha latte is a hot beverage with a sweet flavor, followed by the classic underlying flavors that you get out of matcha, like bitter, sweet, grassy, and umami. An iced matcha latte would taste the same, just in a colder form.
2. Dunkin Donuts
Dunkin donuts serves iced matcha lattes and matcha donuts. Iced matcha lattes are cold and have a sweet flavor, with other balanced flavors that you would find in a matcha. Matcha donuts are sweet and glazed with sugar, with matcha powder added on top. This gives them a sweet yet refreshing flavor of the matcha.
3. Pret A Manger
Pret A Manger serves hot and cold matcha lattes. They use almond milk instead of regular milk to make their matcha, which adds a nutty flavor to it. They also often serve it with coconut milk, which adds another dimension of a nutty flavor, followed by the grassy flavor of matcha.
4. Peet’s Coffee
Peet’s coffee offers matcha lattes in both cold and hot forms, along with peppermint and vanilla versions of the same. The standard matcha lattes, both hot and iced, have a sweet flavor followed by the vegetal and bitter flavor of matcha. The peppermint and vanilla versions do have the grassy flavors of matcha, however, they can sometimes be overpowered.
5. Bluestone Lane
Bluestone Lane offers matcha lattes that are made with ceremonial grade matcha and almond milk. The almond milk gives the matcha a nutty flavor. However, the use of ceremonial grade matcha makes the overall flavor of matcha a little lighter than the rest.
Factors Affecting The Flavor Of Matcha
It quite often happens that you end up buying a high-quality something, but the taste does not really deliver. With matcha, it is a very common occurrence. Quite a lot of people buy great quality matcha but once they make it, it does not taste anything like they would have expected.
This happens because matcha is supposed to be made in a certain way. There also are certain other factors that end up affecting the overall quality and flavor of the matcha. Given below are these factors and how exactly they affect the flavor.
1. Type Of Water
Matcha, being an ingredient with a delicate flavor, does change if the correct type of water is not used to make it. To make matcha, the most preferred type of water is fresh spring water, as it brings out the best flavor due to a balanced pH. Filtered water is also a good option to use. But, try not to use hard water as that gives matcha a very strong aftertaste.
2. Temperature Of Water
If matcha is brewed at a very high temperature, it loses almost all its flavor. So, having a steady temperature to make matcha is very vital. Your water should be at 175 degrees Fahrenheit or 80 degrees celsius. Any temperature higher than this will make your matcha taste bitter.
3. Ratio Of Water And Matcha
The ratio of water also matters if you want to make a perfect-tasting matcha. For a thinner matcha drink, the optimal ratio should be two teaspoons of matcha with ¼ cup of water. For a thicker variant, use two tablespoons of water with two teaspoons of matcha.
4. Grade Of Matcha
While making matcha, it is important to know which grade to use for which recipe. This is because culinary grade matcha will not really work in case you want to make a plain matcha tea as it will end up tasting really bitter. Likewise, if you use ceremonial grade matcha for sweeter drinks, the flavor won’t really come through.
Usually, with ceremonial grade matcha, there is actually no need to add any sort of sweetener. The addition of sweetener tends to mask the natural sweetness of the matcha and ends up giving a completely different flavor from what it is actually supposed to be like.
How To Choose The Perfect Matcha?
Now you know about both grades of matcha and how they are used in completely different ways. However, even when you are picking one of the two types of matcha, it can get confusing as to which one would taste best. So, let me give you a few pointers on how you can pick the perfect matcha for yourself, whether it is culinary or ceremonial grade.
Matcha has been made perfect in Japan, even though its origin is from China. So, to pick the best matcha for yourself, make sure that the origin of the matcha you are buying is from matcha growing areas in Japan like Uji, Kyoto, and Nishio.
To pick a good quality matcha powder, take a good look at its texture. Stone ground high-quality matcha is very fine and has a dust-like texture. Inferior quality matha, on the other hand, will have a rough and grainy texture.
3. Taste And Aroma
Good quality matcha will have a vegetal and slightly sweet flavor along with a grassy aroma. Even when it comes to culinary grade matcha, the same rule applies. Whether you are looking for culinary or ceremonial grade matcha, an inferior quality product will have a very bitter taste. With culinary grade matcha, it will be more bitter than it usually is.
A superior quality product will have a bright and vibrant green color due to the extra chlorophyll in it. Inferior quality matcha may have a dull green or yellow color as the color itself will prove that older leaves are used to produce the matcha.
With matcha, a very simple rule applies: the higher the price of the product, the better it’s quality of it. I know this may sound very cliche, but making matcha powder is a task which is why it is usually quite expensive.
This goes especially with ceremonial grade matcha. Usually, good quality matcha powder will cost you anywhere between $ 20-40 for a 30-gram quantity. Anything lower than that is probably not on par with quality.
How To Make Matcha Taste Good?
The flavor of matcha sounds really appealing. But, it often happens that it ends up being an acquired taste, just like green tea. A lot of people may want to drink matcha because of the health benefits it has to offer. However, sometimes people do get put off by the flavor.
There can be many reasons for this to happen. However, there are some ways in which you can make your matcha taste better and overall make it more appealing to everyone.
1. Use Good Quality Matcha
For matcha to have a more subtle and appealing taste, it is important to use matcha of the finest quality. This does not necessarily mean that you have to buy the most expensive matcha in the market. But, it is better to buy something that is more on the higher end, just because those ones are of better quality.
2. Use Just Enough Matcha
To get the proper subtle and balanced flavor of matcha, you need to use an amount that is just right. Using too little will not give you the expected flavor. At the same time, using too much will probably make it taste too strong. So, it is vital to follow a recipe while making any sort of matcha drink.
3. Add Flavorings
You may not be too fond of the flavor of matcha but may still want to drink it. In such cases, you can use flavorings in your matcha tea. Adding flavors will mask the flavor of matcha and, at the same time, give you all the health benefits. Certainly a win-win situation! The vanilla flavor works best with matcha.
Ceremonial V/S Culinary Grade Matcha
As you all already know, there are two distinct types of matcha. These types include culinary grade matcha and ceremonial grade matcha. Although they are both derived from the same plant, there are certain notable differences between the two. These differences are based on various factors. Given below is a table that shows the differences between these two grades.
|Color||Deep Green||Subdued Green|
|Texture||Powdery, fine||Powdery, fine|
|Make||Younger tea leaves||Older tea leaves|
|Taste||Mellow flavor with hints of sweetness, bitterness, and earthy||Hints of earthy flavor with more amount of bitterness than ceremonial grade|
|Uses||Matcha tea for tea ceremonies||Sweet beverages, baked goods, cooking|
How To Make The Best Matcha Latte?
I think I may have told you a lot about the uses of matcha. I don’t know about all of you, but that for sure tempted me enough to make a matcha latte! So, if you want to ditch your usual order of matcha latte from your favorite coffee shop and make it yourself, you should try this recipe!
It is easy and very time efficient! The ingredients and steps are all given below.
Ingredients To Make The Best Matcha Latte:
- 1.5 teaspoons matcha powder
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- 1-2 teaspoons honey
- ¾ cup hot milk
Method To Make The Best Matcha Latte:
- In a cup, sift the matcha powder.
- Add the hot water to the powder and whisk it till there are no lumps.
- Once the lumps are gone, add in the honey and the hot milk.
- Serve hot with your favorite cookies!
Health Benefits Of Matcha
More people are inclined towards trying matcha, even if they do not necessarily like the flavor. A big reason why people are ditching regular lattes and instead having matcha lattes has got a lot to do with its health benefits.
Many researches have been carried out on the health benefits of matcha. Some of them have proved the same fact. Below, I have given all the health benefits that you can get by drinking matcha.
1. Prevents Cell Damage
Matcha is rich in antioxidants. In fact, the amount of antioxidants in matcha has been proven to be higher than green tea. These antioxidants are great for our overall health and prevent cell damage. They also prevent certain chronic diseases.
2. Boosts Brain Function
Matcha contains compounds like caffeine and L-thianine. These have been proven to improve certain brain functions. Moreover, matcha has also been shown to improve attention and brain function.
3. Promotes Heart Health
A lot of studies have proven that matcha and green tea help reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in our body. This, in turn, shows that matcha can help improve overall heart health.
4. Helps Maintain A Healthy Weight
A lot of us know that green tea is the best drink to have if you are trying to watch your weight. Well, it’s the same thing with matcha! A lot of studies have shown that matcha helps enhance metabolism and increases fat burning.
5. Helps Keep The Liver Healthy
Some studies carried out have shown that matcha may improve liver function and help keep it healthy. However, there are a lot of other factors that are vital when it comes to keeping the liver healthy.
Nutritional Values Of Matcha
Matcha, being a type of green tea, has a lot of health benefits attached to it. So, why is this product so popular lately? It has a lot to do with its nutritional value and health benefits revolving around it. Let us take a look at its nutritional values.
The table below has all the nutritional values of matcha powder.
|Nutrients||Amount ( Serving Size 1 tsp or 5 grams)|
Matcha comes in two forms, ceremonial grade matcha and culinary grade matcha. Though there is a difference in the flavor between the two, the overall flavor of matcha is grassy with hints of bitterness and sweetness. Ceremonial grade matcha is best for making matcha tea as it has a neutral flavor.
Culinary-grade matcha is best for use in desserts and drinks as the flavor is quite bitter. The bitter flavor, however, does get masked without being overpowered by other flavors. You can pick the matcha you like based on how you plan to use it and also by following the guide given in the article to get the best quality products.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is matcha the same as green tea?
No, matcha is a type of green tea.
What does matcha taste like?
The overall flavor of matcha is grassy with hints of sweetness and bitterness, followed by a savory aftertaste.
What is the best quality of matcha?
The best quality of matcha is usually bright green in color with a not-so-bitter taste and a smooth texture.
How can you use matcha?
Ceremonial grade matcha can be used to make matcha tea, whereas culinary grade matcha is used in desserts and in drinks that have sugar.
Is matcha healthy?
Matcha is loaded with antioxidants and has a lot of health benefits related to it.
Is matcha bitter or sweet?
Ceremonial matcha has a neutral flavor, whereas culinary matcha has a more bitter flavor. Neither of them have a sweet flavor profile.
Does matcha taste similar to green tea?
No, mathca has a much more intense flavor when compared to green tea.
How do you pick the right matcha?
The right type of matcha can be picked based on how you plan to use it, and further based on the flavor, origin, aroma, texture, color and price of the matcha.
How do you store matcha the right way?
The best way to store open or unopened packets of matcha is in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.