Ceremonial vs Culinary Grade Matcha Health Benefits, Taste, and Uses
Matcha is a finely ground powder of green tea leaves. It is produced by shading the tea plants for several weeks before harvest, which increases the levels of chlorophyll and other nutrients in the leaves. After harvest, the leaves are steamed, dried, and then ground into a fine powder.
Matcha has a long and rich history in Japan, where it is used in traditional tea ceremonies. Today, matcha is becoming increasingly popular around the world, as people are drawn to its unique flavor and health benefits.
Different Grades of Matcha
Matcha is typically divided into two main grades: ceremonial and culinary. Ceremonial grade matcha is the highest quality matcha available. It is made from the youngest and finest tea leaves, and it has a smooth, mellow flavor. Culinary grade matcha is made from older tea leaves and has a more bitter taste. It is typically used in baking and cooking.
Ceremonial Grade Matcha
Culinary Grade Matcha
Good, Average Quality
mellow, smooth, layered umami flavors
Bitter, earthy, less complex
Tea, Tea ceremonies, lattes, smoothies, high-end food and beverage recipes
Baking, cooking, lattes, smoothies
Less Vibrant, Yellowish Green
The main differences between ceremonial and culinary grade matcha are the quality of the tea leaves used and the taste. Ceremonial grade matcha is made from the youngest and finest tea leaves, while culinary grade matcha is made from older tea leaves. This difference in quality results in a different taste. Ceremonial grade matcha has a smooth, mellow flavor, while culinary grade matcha has a more bitter taste. Besides taste, color can also be an indication of quality. Matcha tea made with high quality powder should be a vibrant green. Typically, a more yellow and dull color indicates a lower quality matcha.
In addition to the two main grades of matcha, there are also a number of subgrades, such as:
- Premium Grade Matcha: similar to ceremonial grade matcha, but it is made from slightly older tea leaves and has a slightly stronger flavor. This matcha is a vibrant green, similar to ceremonial grade matcha.
- Barista grade matcha: specifically designed for use in lattes and other coffee-based drinks.
- Classic grade matcha: all-purpose matcha that can be used for both drinking and cooking.
- Ingredient/Dessert grade matcha: lower-quality tea leaves and is typically used in commercial food products.
- Kitchen grade matcha: lowest quality matcha available and is typically used in industrial applications. This matcha has a dull, yellow hue.
Despite there being many variations of matcha, the guidelines determining matcha grade are not enforced regulations in the market. So, it is important to purchase matcha from a trusted source.
Matcha Grades and Health Benefits
Most may assume that all matcha has the same health benefits. However, due to varying harvesting and preparation practices, that is not the case.
Ceremonial grade matcha is the highest quality matcha available, and it offers the most health benefits. It contains higher levels of antioxidants, caffeine, and L-theanine than culinary grade matcha. These antioxidants can help protect the body from cell damage and chronic diseases, while caffeine can improve alertness and focus. L-theanine is an amino acid that promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety. Ceremonial grade matcha may also boost metabolism, aid in weight loss, improve heart health, and protect against cancer and other chronic diseases.
Culinary grade matcha is still a good source of antioxidants, caffeine, and L-theanine, but it is not as potent as ceremonial grade matcha. It has many of the same benefits, it just isn't as potent. Poorer quality matcha typically correlates with less potent health benefits, with kitchen grade matcha being the least nutritious.
Overall, ceremonial grade matcha is the healthiest type of matcha. However, even the lowest quality matcha can still provide a boost of antioxidants, caffeine, and L-theanine.
Choosing the Right Matcha
Which grade of matcha is right for you depends on your personal preferences and how you plan to use it. While every grade of matcha has its purpose, there is one type of matcha that is best overall: ceremonial grade. It is the highest quality matcha available and has the best taste and flavor. No matter which grade of matcha you choose, make sure to buy it from a reputable source. This will help to ensure that you are getting a high-quality product.
If you are looking for delicious matcha, ceremonial grade, Matchako is here to help. Their beverages come in a ready-to-drink bottle perfect for new members of the matcha community or experienced sippers looking for a quality beverage. Enjoy your matcha!