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Buying Matcha (Green Tea)

I've discovered that I'm a big fan of Matcha vs. traditional green tea, though I do enjoy the 'regular' green tea from time to time. Even with the higher caffeine content, I can drink matcha later at night and sleep peacefully, with no adverse effects whatsover.

I've only purchased it only once (teazonline) and now that I know I like it, I want to buy the largest quantity available and I'm flummoxed by my options. Any other Matcha drinkers?

I'm curious too...I'm seeing some of the Bubble Tea producers have a Matcha Concentrate for considerably less expensive. There's very few details about this...just lists it as 'grade a' and one site lists it as an extract. It's impossibly cheap, $40 for 2.2 lbs...anyone tried that version? Is it useless for tea and better for smoothies and things like ice creams and flavories like cakes?

I like the health benefits of Matcha, so I'd hate to buy something that's completely useless. Than again, for that amount of money, I'd be rolling in matcha ice cream for years and never have to use my "good" stuff.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

-Summer

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  1. I drink Matcha quite possibly in the lowest possible denominator.

    Look --> http://shopstashtea.com/030365.html

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cheese Boy

      Do you feel like that gives you all the commonly touted benefits of matcha (caffiene alertness with no crash, etc?)

      I'll have to look through the store, thanks.

      Any one else? I might just have to buy a bunch of different ones...I'm falling asleep throughout my day!

    2. republicoftea.com has matcha. there's a lot to matcha, I swill down gallons of it and love it, I don't know all the intricacies but I've read several articles on it. To a great degree you get what you pay for, and there are few screamin'deals on matcha from what I've observed.

      But boy, is it good.

      1 Reply
      1. re: EWSflash

        Bumping this thread to learn more. Any tips or advice to steer me toward better quality matcha? I will, most likely, head for a local place called The Herbery that sells it. Here is a link to what they offer. Anyone familiar with it--Muzi Matcha?
        http://www.theherberyonline.com/

      2. I drink matcha, bought a little tin of the superior quality japanese matcha for my SO, we prepare it the traditional way and consume it, it's wonderful!! Sometimes I add the powder to smoothies too.

        1. what is *superior quality matcha* vs *dustpan matcha*? how to differentiate?

          the one i have in my hands is by Hanamasa (肉のハナマサ) so it's not quite the fanciest stuff ever...

          but back to the OP
          i'd reckon the matcha-for-bubble tea may contain other funny things, skim milk powder, flavourings, etc.? best to ask!

          19 Replies
          1. re: dumpycactus

            I don't know, it sure was a lot more expensive though and a lot "greener" .. I went to two tea specialty shops in one day and both of them showed me two types of matcha.

            1. re: dumpycactus

              Here's the challenge. Real matcha, according to some sources, is made from "tencha"-it is handpicked, deveined and destemmed tea that is then powdered in a very ancient process using carved stones. It is pricey. The tencha is grown in the dark for the last few weeks, which makes it greener, more vegetal and sweeter, I believe, and increases the theanine content. Sometimes the higher grades of matcha are called "tea ceremony" grade. The very highest grades are the least bitter and the lowest grades-more bitter-are used for flavorings in pastries, ice cream, lattes etc and are far cheaper. Sometimes the lower grades are not even matcha, and in fact might be simply powdered green tea from China.

              But many things that can be mistakenly called matcha are various forms of powdered tea. These powdered teas can be made using Japanese teas of varying qualities or from Chinese teas produced in the Japanese fashion of steaming rather than pan roasting. The Chinese don't always know that they are not selling matcha-last week I spoke to a supplier in China who called their green tea powder matcha. In fact, they didn't really have matcha, but they export to Japan where it is sometimes repackaged as matcha, though more knowlegeable purveyers will not call it matcha. They might call it "powdered tea". I think they really didn't know better. IN fact, in Hunan, they make a style of tea in the Japanese style called "jade dew" or in Chinese "yulu". It is NOT made the same way as the very high quality "jade dew" or "gyokuro" green tea in Japan which is the highest grade of green tea Japan makes. Gyokuro tea, like matcha, is partially grown in the shade and will have the sweetness of the high theanine content. It is delicious and sweet and vegetal, and evolved nicely through 3 different infusions. It is brewed at very low temperatures and is a wonderful matcha alternative. After 3 infusions (some say 5), you might want to eat it with some ponzu (citrus) sauce. That way, gyokuro will have the about the same level of health benefits as matcha with a less dramatic intensity to the drinking experience.

              As for the ECGC content and the catechin content, that depends on freshness and storage. Matcha and powdered green teas have the most ECGC along with Gyokuro from studies I ahve seen than most other green teas, such as longjing, or other Chinese green teas. All green teas have more ECGC than oolong, black (or red) teas, or pu erh teas. Real matcha might have more theanine then tea powder. Theanine deals with relaxation and certain cognitive functions. These teas go bad quickly since there is a great deal of surface area and the oxidation will be accelerated. A well packed high quality matcha can last unopened and refrigerated for about 13 months, according to internal experiments by one high quality matcha provider. But once it's opened, drink in a few weeks or a month and keep it closed in a cool location. Refrigeration after it's opened may be bad as it can absorb odors. If the tea oxidizes, you will lose much of the ECGC, which is thought to be the most important of the tea catechins. So freshness is key. This is true for ALL green tea. The stuff in tea bags and on shelves is probably already pretty bad-and for tea drinkers it tastes horrible. There are high quality tea bags, some actually protected with nitrogen from oxidation, that can provide a nice tea experience, and they are not made from paper which has some real problems.

              The highest grades of matcha are extremely expensive, and perhaps not worth it unless you drink it very quickly after preparation, and are scrupulous about water quality and temperature, and the style of whisking as well as making sure to pre-sift. After about 30-50 seconds, matcha loses it's good flavor. But if you really appreciate the "sweetness" and the lower level of bitterness, then try a high grade vs. a low grade ceremonial matcha. IF you don't mind the "cullinary" grade matcha, it's still quite healthy, despite it's bitterness.

              Also, the highest grades are sweeter and can be used to make the "thick style" or "koicha" matcha, which has a lot more tea, but might be too overwhelming for some. "Thin style"-usucha-can be made with much lower grades of tea. Higher grades of matcha can be used for "thin style" but the lower grades can't be used for the "thick style".

              1. re: foodlovergeneral

                I know of at least one vendor of Chinese matcha and sencha, both of which are shade-grown, both of which are supposed to be delicious. And I've had supermarket green tea in bags that, while not representing anything remotely approaching "tea Nirvana," were far "horrible."

                1. re: MacGuffin

                  I believe that there is no shade grown green teas from China-there is in fact no matcha at all from China-though some call it matcha. Sencha is not shade grown. Kabusecha is shade grown. Gyokuro is shade grown. Chinese "gyokuro" or "yulu", (jade dew) tea from China is made-to some extent-in the Japanese and not Chinese fashion, but it's not shade grown. Matcha is made from tencha which is not only shade grown, but it's first flush tea and has some rarified treatment that makes it matcha including how it's ground-using hand carved stones in an exremely slow process. Calling what comes from China matcha is much like calling 2 buck chuck Bordeaux because it's made from grapes.

                  I think you are right; every "supermarket green tea" I have had so far has been terrible. Worse than terrible. Not at all worth drinking. But perhaps you know someone who does shade grow their tea from China despite my arrogant certainty-perhaps you would share their name and I can check them out.

                  1. re: foodlovergeneral

                    Why would I post it if it weren't so? And yes, I know what kubusecha, gyokuro, and--for that matter--tencha are and how they're grown; I'm not exactly a rookie. Seven Cups--which is owned and staffed by extremely knowledgeable (not to mention scrupulously honest) fanatics offers, in their tea shop, Chinese matcha that's shade-grown in China and what they sell as sencha, which is also shade-grown by the same producer, is available for sale online although they're currently out of stock (I've not had either but am told they're both very good). Bear in mind that even though it took its own direction, the Japanese imported their tea culture from China and that included the use of powdered tea (and let me head you off at the pass here to point out that I know not all powdered green tea is matcha).
                    I don't know if Chinese tea interests you but if it does, I highly recommend Seven Cups. You can call them to discuss what might or might not work for you but before doing so I strongly recommend enrolling online in their tea club. You get a discount on all non-sale teas and every dollar spent on them earns a point. Every 100 points get you a transferable coupon for $10 off and if you give it to a friend, yours will be replaced. They're all about the tea and the owner's wife (who's co-owner) is a government-certified tea master from China. In all the years I've been dealing with them, I've only had one disappointing tea. And they source direct from all their growers, too--no middleman: http://www.sevencups.com/ .

                    1. re: foodlovergeneral

                      Another vendor of Chinese matcha: http://www.holymtn.com/catalog/green-... . Holy Mountain is an EXTREMELY reputable firm that has been around for quite a few years and its owners certainly know the difference between generic powdered green tea and matcha. In addition, to quote from a forum post by someone who probably knows more about tea than any "civilian" I know (and is very modest about it, to boot), "...it is more common for Chinese matcha to be covertly imported to Japan and blended and used in Japanese markets for export"; NOT "Chinese powder," mind you, but "matcha." My point is regardless of whether or not you're dismissive of it, real matcha is produced in China. Is it going to taste the same? No. Seven Cups tells me that theirs is "nuttier" than Japanese product. Not only are different varietals used but the terroir is different as well (I would point out, e.g., that the same can be said of Kagoshima tea vs. Yame vs. Ureshino, et al.). But that doesn't mean it's not matcha or, apparently, that it can't be good.

                    2. re: MacGuffin

                      Horrible- That would be the Kitkland brand from Costco, it claims to have matcha in it, but don't be fooled, it's pretty disgusting if you steep it for more than a minute, and the matcha dust just gets in the way. As much as I favor green tea, I think that the Kirkland gren tea with so-called matcha is pretty horrible, but if you have it, don't steep it for more than a minute or be prepared to make a bitter beer face. Much better to get matcha from a reliable source, many of which are listed here.

                      1. re: EWSflash

                        I've never had (or even heard of) that one; we don't have Costco in Manhattan. I don't think I've ever had supermarket tea that contains matcha; I wasn't aware that such a thing exists--maybe it's their take on matcha-iri without the genmai? The only time I actually buy supermarket tea is to brew kombucha. I don't buy much matcha but I'm familiar with a number of excellent vendors from whom I've bought it in the past or whose matcha I've been gifted with (oh, liu...). My preference is to brew koicha-grade tea as usucha--works for me. :)

                        1. re: MacGuffin

                          I too like to brew higher quality matcha for usucha. Sweet and smooth and has a very nice feel to it, as though it were made with love.

                          1. re: foodlovergeneral

                            It's definitely the way to go. And while I'm here, I'd like to share a nice coincidence. I received an e-mail this morning from one of the vendors I recommended on this thread yesterday, asking if I were all right in the wake of Sandy. Zencha.net is not only a stellar vendor but a nice one that values their clientele on a personal level. Shipping is fast and is included in the price of the tea. I haven't had it myself but I have no doubt that their matcha offerings are exactly as described and can be enjoyed without mortgaging the farm. They're out of stock on some things now but I can personally vouch for the excellence of Sencha the Ultimate, Fuji the Ultimate (that's my plug that appears on the site and might be why it always sells out so fast), the autumn bancha, and other things as well including a surprisingly wonderful ko-cha some time back. They have lovely teaware, too.

                            1. re: MacGuffin

                              Sounds great-the site was impressive. I like their offerings and they offer you the option of Kagoshima, Yame, Shizuoka and Uji. Very nice.

                              The cheapest matcha on that site was about 10 times the price of the so-called Japanese matcha that was on the buboba.com website. They claim that it's from Shizuoaka and that it's matcha (not just sencha powder). Do you believe it's real?

                              1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                Sure, why not? It might not be very good quality but that doesn't mean it's not real. Shizuoka was affected by radiation after that nuclear disaster, though, which is why some vendors aren't offering much, if any, tea from there. Maybe the matcha you saw is within the legal limits of "safe" but still showing some trace exposure? Or maybe it's not fresh?

                                BTW, this is another good vendor and here are some videos you might enjoy: http://www.o-cha.com/green-tea-proces... . I think both sites offer high-quality powdered sencha for those who have an interest. My Chowhound buddy liu sent me some of their top-of-the-line matcha years back and it was indeed superb although not much more so than what Hibiki-an was selling at the time as "Pinnacle" for quite a bit less.

                                1. re: MacGuffin

                                  I actually emailed them regarding the "radiation" threat, and from what I gather, their farm in Shizuoka was not affected by the nuclear disaster. Further, they claim that FDA has been going with a radiation meter on all shipments from Japan and will absolutely not allow any shipments entry. This is in addition to Japan's proactive measure to screen their exports for any contamination as well. So I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope I don't get a 11th finger. wahahaha. But price and taste is good for me at this point, so no complaint. It also seems quite fresh, so I don't think it's an old stock either.

                                  1. re: shingu79

                                    I presume by fresh, you mean it is still deep green, and not at all yellowing. What is the brand?
                                    Thanks for your informative help.

                                    1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                      Correct, deep green...not yellow, brown, white, polka dot pink, or purple stripes =D
                                      It's not a brand, but take a look.
                                      http://www.buyboba.com/100tea.html

                                      I'm happy with it....and im a matcha addict.

                                    2. re: shingu79

                                      It sounds safe and as long as YOU like it, that's the bottom line. There are lots of matchas and vendors out there--try as many as your interest and means allow and very important: read what their vendors have to say and make comparisons with other vendors. Read customer reviews and find tea forums--lots of tea nerds are to be found on them and with very few (and obnoxious) exceptions, they're happy to share everything they know. Many are opinionated but almost no one's feathers get ruffled and it's a great way of gaining "book smarts" and vendor recommendations. And do some research into how to prepare matcha in the traditional manner because this is the best way to get a sense of the tea proper; once you know that, you can very easily determine how that tea is going to perform in other preparations if you're so inclined (we're back to lattes, smoothies, baking and such). And make sure to have fun with it--becoming knowledgeable about tea is a very cool and satisfying activity. :)

                                      1. re: MacGuffin

                                        Thanks for that. I agree completely with what you said ^^

                                        1. re: shingu79

                                          30 years ago, I studied tea ceremony. I have been dissapointed with many of the matchas that I have tasted in comparison to that. Hibiki-an is a good source, but making matcha the tea ceremony way is quite nice. You can abbreviate the process greatly and still ahve a great product. I think the key elements that are crucial:
                                          1. Sift the tea
                                          2. Correct temperature of bowl-heat it with very hot water first and dump the water. DRY THE BOWL before adding the matcha.
                                          3. 70 ml for about 1.5-2 grams of matcha of water between 160 and 185.
                                          4. Drink it quickly after preperation for the best flavor.

                                          1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                            Absolutely, 1 and 2 are crucial for good results. Always sift, always heat the bowl, make sure you pre-soak the whisk. Those who haven't tried this are really missing out. And no need to buy a fancy sifter--a simple tea strainer might not be attractive but it works just fine. Just push the matcha through into the heated bowl. And to produce a beautiful, lather-like froth with the tiniest bubbles, whisk in an M or W pattern; don't let the whisk make contact with the bottom of the bowl. There are probably videos on YouTube that demonstrate.

                  2. Not to commit a threadjacking, but I usually whisk matcha into room-temp water and put ice in it. Am I missing any benefits by not heating it up first? Sine I'm actually digesting the whole leaf I didn't think so, but if aybody knows please chime in.

                    Some time ago I found an online article called something like All About Green Tea that went into matcha at some length. If I find it i'll post it, but you may want to do a Google search to that effect. My point being that somewhere there's a really good article about it.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: EWSflash

                      I don't think that's a threadjack. I did find this article...there are probably many with a similar title, but this one addresses your temperature question. Would be interested if anyone else finds good articles to share re quality, too:
                      http://www.greenteaworkshop.com/

                      Here's another link I found that's pretty informative:
                      http://www.matchasource.com/about-mat...

                      1. re: kattyeyes

                        Thanks for the matchasource.com link, I plan to order fro them today!

                    2. You may also want to check out Ito En's online store. Choose matcha from the pull-down menu. There are several different choices.
                      http://www.itoen.com/leaf/

                      1. I searched for matcha, and found my own old thread, lol.

                        I'm wondering if I'm doing something wrong in the brewing. I've tried 4 different kinds now, and I enjoy the flavor, but it's very faint compared to the vibrant green tea flavor, in a green tea ice cream or latte or smoothie that I can buy at a restaurant or coffee bar. One of the last matchas I tried (from the asian grocery) tasted more like seaweed than green tea.

                        I take the temperature of the water, and I'm measuring the tea powder. Am I not adding enough sugar, or milk?

                        The only time my matcha as home tasted like the store, is when I sprinkled it on ice cream, so I'm wondering if it's the sugar/milk content I'm messing up. I also normally use turbinado sugar, should I be using white?

                        Silly questions, I know, but I figured for what I'm paying, I might as well have the best flavor experience possible.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: sommrluv

                          Maybe you should first learn how to make matcha the way it's suppose to be made. There's no milk or sugar involved. Then move on from there.
                          http://www.tfk-corp.co.jp/howtomattya...

                          1. re: E Eto

                            Appreciate that link and agree with you re the milk and sugar, but it might be a whole lot more valuable to most people (me, too) on this site if it were in English...or are we supposed to figure it out pictorially? :)

                            Edit: Try this, sommrluv. There's a little video, too. Hope this helps.

                            1. re: E Eto

                              I did watch some videos today that were pretty helpful. Apparently the first matcha I purchased, was suggesting too much water (it came with directions) so I need to cut way back on my water.

                              I'll be trying it tomorrow morning!

                          2. We serve matcha in our lattes at our cafe...We get it from Rishi Tea. I believe they also sell retail...

                            www.rishi-tea.com

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: soypower

                              Rishi was the first vendor to pique my tea passion years ago (long before their infamous puerh debacle) and you can get some pretty good stuff from them, although they tend to be very expensive. They have some wonderful rooibos- and green tea-based chai blends and their jasmine pearls are nice, too (I also want to try their sakura sencha) but beyond that, I outgrew them pretty quickly. You can undoubtedly find better bulk matcha at a more competitive price.

                            2. I was having the same doubt as bubble tea producers are selling these "matcha concentrate", but in fact my experience at buyboba.com has been very good. Their grade A 100% matcha is the ones I've been buying from elsewhere and it's a LOT cheaper.

                              That's my two cents though.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: shingu79

                                Those prices suggest that they are not selling matcha-or it's fallen off of a truck. There isn't a matcha supplier in Japan who can come even remotely close to those prices being offered for matcha. The process is way too expensive.

                                But who knows-could be great tasting healthy stuff anyways. There's tea powder from China that might be that cheap. Are those bags straight matcha or are they mixed with some sort of bubble tea or latte mix?

                                1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                  Hiya,

                                  They sell the "latte mix" as well as the 100%.
                                  I've asked their origin of source, and they tell me they import it directly from Shizouka, Japan, and that's what the label says as well. I know that matcha requires quite a bit of labor and love for it to grow "right" and they need to be take care of etc....but I've personally tasted it and it's on par with the stuff I've got in Japan when I was visiting few years back. It works for me, and the price is right... $45.95 / 2.2 lbs + shipping.
                                  Granted, I'm not a tea afficinado, but I can tell my good matchas from...not so good ones.

                                  1. re: shingu79

                                    LOL whatever tastes good to one should be the final determination of good. :)

                                    1. re: shingu79

                                      Shizuoka does produce a more cost effective product-but if it's really matcha, if it was hand picked, destemmed, grown in the shade, and stone milled, and not machine milled-and painstakingly processed, then we should happily call it matcha. It will not dissolve as easily in water, and will need to be sifted to get a better consistancy. It will have come from only the first picking of the year, and will come from the tip and the first leaves only. When prepared as a drinki it will need to be whisked or blended with somethin akin to a whisk since the fine powder has a tendancy to clump.

                                      Tea powder, including sencha powder will not clump, and is easier to handle. Chinese "tea powder" will be less bitter, but is not produced as painstakingly as matcha. It will dissolve easily in the water. The higher the quality of matcha (generall), the less bitter and the sweeter from the theanine presence. Poorly stored matchas will have more tendancy to get a bit yellow or slightly brownish in color. This indicates the oxidation of the tea, and means that the EGCG's-one of the very important health providing catechins-are in great decline. The top supplier of matcha in the world thinks that matcha only has a shelf life of 13 months when stored and packed extremely well IF IT HASN'T BEEN OPENED and if it's stored in a refirgerator. If it's been opened, it doesn't last that long.

                                      Chinese suppliers are not always consistant about storing their matcha well. Some matcha and gyokuro come to Shizuoka and other regions FROM China and may be remarketed as Japanese, though I am not saying that is what is happening at the place you got your stuff. I have spoken with Chinese tea suppliers who sell their "tea powder" to Japan. They too improperly call their own product matcha. I think that in the way Champagne is reserved for wine produced in the Chaminoise process from Champagne region of France, matcha has a particular process that is minimally required that makes it matcha and not tea powder. An Amarone wine, similarly, will have a particular required blend of different grapes and a certain drying process to be called that, and at a lower level, it is called "Valpolicella"; Napa insists that the grapes be grown in Napa to be called a Napa wine. And so on. The matcha makers sometimes have hundreds of years of tradition-as old as the oldest French wine estates- of stone grinding hand picked partially shaded tea, putting it through painstaking processes-they should get some recognition for their precise and vigilant efforts, I would propose. Let the Chinese be famous for their Da Hong Paos, Long Jings, Moa Funs, Tie Guanyuins, Puerhs and many many more great teas. If they want to call their "tea powder" matcha, let them put in the effort to make it that way.

                                      1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                        "Chinese suppliers are not always consistant about storing their matcha well."
                                        I will concede that there's some inconsistency here but it's not with Chinese suppliers. First there was no such thing as Chinese matcha but now they don't store it well? How can storage of any stripe be applied to a non-existent product? And I'd "happily" point out that not all matcha is made from hand-picked leaves and processed only by hand--that applies to higher grades and their prices rightly reflect that. Production of commercial matcha, even in Japan, freely utilizes machinery--what do you think accounts for its cheaper price? Think about it: it's just as expensive to hand-pick and stone-grind bad tea as it is to process good tea. And you're not only telling me anything I don't know about Japanese tea tradition and production (I did mention I'm not a rookie, yes?), you have no idea what effort is involved in what the Chinese are making--you're not there and don't even believe that such a thing as shade-grown tea exists there. That "minimal processing" does not, as in the case of champagne/Champagne, apply to a protected designation of origin--it can be duplicated wherever environment and know-how allow and besides, champagne can only be produced in Champagne; Japanese matcha can be produced anywhere in Japan (albeit with varying degrees of success). And its makers DO get recognition for their craft...in the form of extremely high prices.

                                        If reputable tea vendors are calling what they're selling matcha, that's what it is and it's not even a matter of semantics. In fact, why don't you telephone a few and ask them? Two things are a safe bet: they will answer you honestly and with candor (they have reputations to protect, after all), and they know more about tea than you do.

                                        1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                          See...you are what I would call an aficionado. I am your, above average joe, but nowhere close to your taste buds as far as tea goes. =D

                                  2. Based on personal experience, Hibiki-an carries a "house matcha" that's really quite okay for everyday drinking and excellent for culinary usage; there are also very reputable vendors like O-Cha.com and Zencha.net that might have something that would suit your needs, and I've read good things of Den's Tea although I've not bought anything from them. Regardless, sticking with vendors that specialize in Japanese teas is probably your best bet. I'd avoid things like matcha concentrates--too gimmicky.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: MacGuffin

                                      In general tea supplier suggest that for culinary usage using a lower grade tea with more bitterness is better. Green tea ice cream, for example, actually benefits from the bitterness which balances the sweetness and the creaminess much better. Many tea suppliers will agree with that. A high grade matcha might get lost in cakes, ice cream or lattes, and the expense is not worth it. In fact, I suspect "tea powder" from China might even be sufficient for cooking.

                                      1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                        I would say that the same is true of cocoa which is why, even if I could afford it, I would never use something delicate like "porcelana" for smoothies (not that what I use is cheap but you get the idea). I will say, though, that H-a's House Matcha (at least when I bought it) really does strike a nice balance for those who don't want to spend a lot for everyday matcha and does excellent double duty for other uses. And again, the other sources I mentioned are extremely reputable but I can't offer any personal insight into their matcha. As to "'tea powder' from China," I'm not familiar with it, nor have I ever seen it offered for sale; the only powdered sencha I know of is made in Japan. e.g. https://www.o-cha.com/green-tea/powde... , http://www.rishi-tea.com/product/senc... , and I wonder if it might be what's used in some Japanese confectionary and ice cream. I imagine the flavor isn't as sweet as even commercial-grade matcha.

                                    2. How much matcha do people drink in a week? Does anyone drink multiple matchas in a day out there?

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                        I mix up a gallon of it both at work and home, and will drink it in a day and a half or so. I also request it at Asian restaurants if I know they have it available. To me, it's the ultimate wonderful drink.

                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                          Amazing. I didn't know that any Asian restaurants serve it. I presume you drink it cold-is that right?

                                          How much matcha do you use?

                                          What brand?

                                        2. re: foodlovergeneral

                                          That would be the iced green tea, I rarely drink it hot, living in the desert as I do.

                                        3. BTW, I also liked http://www.nuts.com/cookingbaking/pow..., they got GREAT price on GRADE A Premium Usacha Matcha Green Tea Powder.
                                          Also super good.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: shingu79

                                            Hard to believe that it's really matcha. Do they do the radioactivity tests (often done on Shizuoka product because of how close it is to Fukushima nuclear disaster) do you think?

                                          2. have u tried yahoo group teamai for suggestions
                                            also mitsuwa japanese market in edgewater has great teas

                                            1. Hi Summer, buying green tea can be a difficult decision, it was for me when I first began drinking it. Before becoming knowledgeable about matcha green tea I went through various brands, without really understanding how to tell the difference. It's a lot like wine, you have to try several and become better educated about the product before you can tell one grade of powdered matcha, or even powdered green tea from another. It can actually take several years (as it did for me), and then you finally realize that you may have buying a not so good grade of matcha that is being sold as a ceremonial grade. The taste of real authentic matcha is amazing too.

                                              Once I became knowledgeable about the finer differences in green teas and matcha powdered teas I decided to open my own store selling only authentic matcha powdered teas. It was the journey that led me to this decision. In fact one of the biggest problems with this food product in American is improper labeling and that our cluture does not have enough knowledge about matcha and green teas in general to determine one from the other.

                                              If you still have questions about getting to know matcha better feel free let me know! I have actually become very interested in the subject of green tea and its natiral antioxidant levels, and have interviewed many leading green tea medical researchers around the USA and internationally that are studying the how green tea and matcha affect cancer cells and other diseases. Did you know that the antioxidant levels are higher in matchas than green tea powder. Real interesting stuff!

                                              Peter

                                               
                                              1. Summer-I am concerned about many teas from China-most inexpensive matcha is from China. There was a study that showed enormous amounts of illegal pesticides in about 1/2 of the Chinese brands tested. Not illegal under U.S. law, but illegal in CHINA!!!! When you buy the cheap matcha brands, it usually comes from China to Japan and gets sold as matcha for bubble tea or as a flavoring agent for cooking.

                                                Matcha has so so so much more nutrition than green tea because you are actually "eating" the tea leaves that have been ground up. Normal grocery store brands have been shown to have very low anti oxidant levels in one study. They sit around on shelves for months and are exposed to heat and temperature fluctuation, which to me ruins the flavors. One study showed that matcha had over 100 times more anitoxidants than green tea from a well known provider.

                                                If you want REAL high quality Matcha, be prepared to spend way more than $40 for 2.2 pounds. You will spend $40 for 1-4 ounces and you will need to keep it in a tight container in a very cool dry place and drink it within a month. I keep mine in a tight plastic bag once it's been opened and i keep it in the refrigerator. Before it's been opened, I keep it in it's air tight original packaging in the freezer. If you don't, it will lose that sweetness and get quite bitter. Bitter is really better for things like cup cakes, ice cream, lattes. So you may prefer bitter. The cheap stuff-including the flavoring agents from China-are much more bitter and are good for banking and ice cream in terms of flavor. But I would be concerned about the real health benefits-does the oxidation of bad storage reduce the health benefits? I think so, though I have not studied that issue so thoroughly. I buy my matcha from Japan. When I drink it, I feel quite good.

                                                But, you are able to sleep well DESPITE high levels of cafeine. Good matcha is not lower in cafeine because you are actually eating the tea leaves directly when you drink matcha. But it is balanced, I think, with a relaxing phytochemical called theanine which really is quite relaxing.

                                                So I would not take the chance on Chinese "matcha". It is probably not that healthy. The bitterness may be a blessing and a curse. A blessing because in ice cream or in baking, the bitterness is a nice offset to the sweetness in the cake or ice cream. Hence, the lower quality more bitter "matcha" is used in baking to great effect.

                                                HIgh quality matcha is actually sweet-not bitter. The highest quality can be used in a very rich concentrated concoction called koicha which uses a much higher amount of tea/water ratio than the less concentrated usucha. The very best is hand picked once a year I think, and only from the youngest bud and it's nearby second bud. The leaves are grown for 30 days in the dark which concentrates certain flavors and phytochemicals.

                                                But not all of us can afford that. If you do want to drink great green tea, the best of Japanese tea is Gyokuro. It is really very similar to "sencha" except it's grown in the dark. It's pricey, and needs to be brewed at a fairly cool temperature-even as low as 126 degrees (up to about 165 degrees). You brew it 3-5 times and the first brewing is quite sweet and vegetal tasting-like a spinach soup-but a bit sweeter. If you brew it too hot, the tea will cook and taste bitter.

                                                The second brewing is more grassy tasting, and high quality gyokuro has various evolutions through each brewing. After 5 brewings, you put some sauce on the tea leaves and eat them if you like.

                                                Low quality commercial green tea may not be as healthy. There was an M.D. in Connecticut who had an interesting theory about green tea. He noted that according to one study that took place in Japan, green tea reduced death rates from most diseases, though not from cancer. This study was done in an area of low quality, industrialized tea. IN another study in Japan, high levels of green tea drinking reduced all death risks INCLUDING cancer. This was in a tea producing region where everyone drank good quality tea. HIs theory was the low quality of the tea in the first study dramatically reduced the benefits.

                                                Likewise, darker teas have shown fewer health benefits in many studies. Was this because many of these darker teas were from China were toxic chemicals were not well controlled? I am a big fan of Japanese tea, though I am in a family where we drink both Chinese and Japanese teas regularly. Chinese teas have an incredibly rich and diverse taste array that is hard to resist. But be concerned about the chemicals included.

                                                Good luck. Enjoy the matcha. If you want to know some place to get it, let me know.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                                  Please don't tar Chinese tea with a broad brush. While I agree that chemicals are of concern (and aside from tea, I'm not a fan of Chinese-made much of anything), there are any number of reputable vendors of Chinese teas; http://www.sevencups.com/ (my favorite), e.g., not only has many organic offerings but they buy direct from growers with whom they have established relationships. http://teaspring.com/ is another very reputable firm with which I've been doing business for years, as is http://www.taooftea.com /index.php (mind you, these are just a few). A word to the wise is fine but please don't be an alarmist--there's a wide array of delicious, SAFE Chinese tea to be had and it would truly sadden me if those new to tea passed on what's out there because they choose to believe that most of it is unsafe at any speed.

                                                  1. re: MacGuffin

                                                    I would love to be a believer. I love the web site at sevencups and it's wonderful what they seem to be doing in providing a great cultural experience. I would trust the Taiwanese teas, which will be quite similar to the great teas of nearby Fujien. But let me tell you a few stories.

                                                    1. My friend, a Mr. Ho in China is a high ranking public official. His old and dear friend drank puerh tea and cured a major illness. He became quite rich after his miraculous cure. He actually sends employees to camp out in front of a particular ancient tea plant to be sure that he actually recieves the very leaves promised without substitution. In fact, he has learned how ot process his own tea, or taught his employees to do so in order to avoid substitution.

                                                    2. I was having tea with another high official in China. We were drinking some wonderful teas from his own collection. I asked him if the expensive teas around Beijing were in fact real, say, in teh fancy hotels. He said, "not always" and "not always great quality, despite high price".

                                                    3. I ordered "da hong pao" in a famous tea house in Beijing near the old Buddhist temple, Yonghegong. This tea was not even remotely similar to da hong pao. It was completely faked.

                                                    4. My relative-a tea importer of very high repute-says the same thing. He told me of a very famous tea importer in the U.S. who goes to the tea producers. He says in Chinese, "hey, I understand the rules here, so give me a good deal. I will only pay you such and such an amount.". My relative said that the tea producers laugh and give him their lowest quality teas. He is known in the U.S. as a great tea importer/connoisseur. According to my cousin, his teas are very low quality.

                                                    5. There was a report done where Greenpeace took 10 randomly selected Chinese teas sold publicaly. They ran tests. They found massive levels of illegal toxins in 1/2 of them. These were toxins that were illegal in CHINA.

                                                    So I would be very very careful. And I would not trust the reputation of teas in the U.S. often developed by people who don't understand teas too well. We just were given a tieguanyin tea by some friend from Guandong (Chinese friends). The tea was of such poor quality that we put it away. I am no tea expert, but I could tell that this tea was of poor quality.

                                                    I was looking at a lot of scientific research on teas and health. I think that at some point, it will become clear that the toxicity of teas from high levels of pesticides offsets much of the health benefits, and it will be much higher in teas from China. I fully believe that, and I am not being alarmist. FUrther I do not find "organic" a credible term in China, or in many other regions outside of certain parts of the U.S. A friend of mine developed a farming operation in Mexico and told me amazing stories about so-called "organic produce". I suspect a similar disregard for veracity coming from China. Don't underestimate it.

                                                    Yes, it is probably true that there are some people getting real high quality tea from honest sources. But I have been told that the high ranking officials and well off businessmen in China have the access to the real quality teas and are willing to pay the price. Good chinese tea has become quite expensive in recent years as Chinese people have driven up the price of high quality teas. The inexpensive teas here are not likely to be so great. Further, the chances that most teas, which cannot be kept long and continue to be drinkable and safe, are sold quickly enough. Notably, the green teas are not sufficiently fresh, I suspect. I tasted a highly regarded "longjing" or dragonwell at a fancy restaurant imported by a famous North American importer who was "highly regarded". It was very mediocre and not terribly fresh. I doubt if there's the "tea master" that has not been discovered by the big money chasing tea in China. So thanks for not getting too mad at me, but I believe you are incorrect. Drink Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese teas. There are great teas from those places. Otherwise, be careful. You are likely to not get quality, freshness and safety from Chinese teas. But you can roll the dice, and prove me wrong.

                                                    If i could be assured that the tea were not smothered in bad chemicals and was fresh and well prepared I would love it and drink it.

                                                    1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                                      I would point out that Zhuping Hodge, co-owner of Seven Cups with her husband Austin, is a government-certified tea master, which is how they met when Austin became obsessed with tea. I would also point out that by "established relationships," I mean quite literally that either Austin or Zhuping personally visit the growers on an annual basis; in addition, Zhuping conducts annual tea tours in China for those who are interested. These are people whose reputation and livelihood are predicated on knowing what they're doing and maintaining a stellar reputation. I don't know what else to tell you, other than I'm not about to forgo the delight of four hundred years' of oolong expertise in favor of Japan's recent and one-dimensional efforts with an already-floral cultivar (i.e. Benefuki). I'd also point out that the desirable properties of some teas, e.g. Oriental Beauty, are due to insect bites (and yeah, I know it's from Taiwan).

                                                      1. re: MacGuffin

                                                        Yes. From Taiwan, as you say. Very different culture. I love oolongs from China. I also love many Japanese teas for their simplicity, freshness and for trustworthiness.

                                                        1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                                          Simple is as simple does, e.g. Japanese oolongs. Nowhere remotely in the same league as Chinese or even Taiwanese (which, of course, tend to be similar to Anxi oolongs). And I guess we're all different because I've never found Japanese greens (at least not the ones I buy) to be simple, and I buy quite a lot. But then, their tea culture is a Chinese import. And I wouldn't put it past some (emphasis on "some") Japanese vendors to export Chinese matcha--tainted and otherwise--as Japanese--it's perfectly legal to label it "product of Japan" if it was shipped from there. Just as I wouldn't claim all Chinese tea is tainted, I wouldn't generalize that all Japanese vendors are trustworthy.

                                                          1. re: MacGuffin

                                                            You are right about Chinese "matcha". There is something called "food grade matcha" used in cakes and icecream imported from Japan as matcha. It is often or perhaps always from China as you correctly pointed out. DON'T DRINK CHEAP SO-CALLED MATCHA. The matcha that people talk about as so cheap in this string is most likely this Chinese matcha. To me it is undrinkable and bitter. Okay for cake or icecream, but to drink?

                                                            Get good quality matcha. I think you are wrong about Japanese venders. They are more honest and straighforward, as a rule, though there are always exceptions, I am confident. You should buy better greens from Japan, and makes sure to get correct brewing techniques (water temperature is crucial with greens). They are not as rich and varied in flavor as Chinese teas, but they are elegant and fresh and vegetal in delightful ways. For example, gyokuro will be sweet and vegetal on the first two brewings. By the fifth it will be grassy. If you take the leaves and mix it with ponzu and sesame, you can eat a delicious remainder that is very pleasant as a snack.
                                                            The gyokuro is grown in shade for about 30 days, and high grade gyokuro is only the first and second bud, from the first tea of teh season. Matcha is also grown in the shade for a bit longer, and the really good matcha is from the first and second buds. It is ground with a special stone; not a machine grinder as in Chinese food grade matcha. But the prices will be quite high for good quality.

                                                            Chinese teas are also quite expensive for good quality. Da hong pao, jinjumei and puerh and others can go for dollars per gram, and thousands per pound. The stuff we get in the U.S. goes for pennies per gram, and rarely approaches the quality. The "oh, we go to the producer" i have heard for quite some time now. Why would a high quality producer sell cheaply? They are in great demand in China. Their teas are celebrated and very very pricey. China is very very big, and there's a ton of money chasing luxury. Chinese have an ancient and very large tea culture. The U.S. tea culture is very small and unsophisticated. The really good teas are not going to make it here, because there are too few buyers as of yet.

                                                            As far as your deprication of Japanese tea because it's imported, Japan imported Ramen from China. I would rank it much better than the Chinese "lamien". My cousin, Chinese, opened a ramen business after first training at a Japanese ramen shop. His soup is the Japanified version of lamen. His family ran Chinese restaurants for his entire life. He didn't open a chinese "lamien" shop.

                                                            Matcha comes from ancient Chinese use of powdered tea which was common in the Tang dynasty. But China doesn't do that anymore. They lost that part of their culture. So Japanese matcha, comes from ancient China, but it's a big improvement, like lamien. Japanese are great innovators, and their attention to precision and detail is unmatched. Japanese imports, including cars, can be of incredible quality and can represent dramatic improvements over the original.

                                                            1. re: foodlovergeneral

                                                              Y'know, I give up. I make an earnest request that you consider the possibility that one can safely purchase Chinese tea and you not only ignore the possibility that this is true and misquote me by ignoring the qualifier "some" in reference to Japanese vendors/accusing me of "depricating" products I use on a regular basis, but you then launch into your expertise in the fine points of gyokuro growing and brewing, tencha bud-to-leaf ratio, . . . and ramen. Mind you, this is just my opinion, but I don't think we're communicating effectively (Euclid and parallel lines are a persistent image). Basta and genug schön.

                                                              For Hounds on this MATCHA board who haven't been scared off Chinese tea, I cited some very reputable vendors who consume their own products, have lived to sell more, and I can guarantee that any of them will be happy to address your fears if you wish to communicate them before purchasing. I would also suggest reading this: http://www.sevencups.com/2013/05/tea-... as it would apply to most small, non-corporate sellers of Chinese tea and not just to Seven Cups.

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