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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!