Matcha was originally only served as a tea beverage during traditional tea ceremonies in Japan always using the highest quality ceremonial matcha.
Nowadays, after its popularity has grown all over the world, matcha is widely used in a variety of food and drink recipes. Its multiple uses have given rise of the culinary matcha grade.
Thus, most sources recognize the existence of two wide categories of matcha – “ceremonial” and “culinary” grade. Each of them also offers different varieties and quality. A lot of sellers also offer a third in between category – called “premium” or “select”.
Ceremonial vs Culinary Matcha
Here is an overview of the qualities of the two basic matcha grades:
|CEREMONIAL GRADE||CULINARY GRADE|
|Harvest||1st harvest in Spring||More mature tea leaves|
|Use||Pure matcha tea, served with water only.||Blend in smoothies or lattes, bake, cook or sprinkle as an ingredient.|
|Made From||The youngest and finest leaves only||A variety of more mature leaves.|
|Colour||Vibrant emerald green||Lighter, more olive like green.|
|Caffeine||50mg per 1 tsp (2g) serving||35mg per 1 tsp (2g) serving|
|Taste||very smooth, delicately grassy, sweet||slightly bitter, more earthy than grassy, robust|
Ceremonial matcha is intended exclusively for whisking into hot water and drinking straight, where the full flavor is released. Made from the youngest leaves and finest leaves only, the taste is very smooth, delicately grassy and sweet. This matcha grade is typically the most expensive offered but only requires a small amount (approximately 2g or 1 tsp) per cup. Mixing a ceremonial quality matcha with other ingredients will not only mask its delicate flavor profile, it will also be an unfortunate waste of money.
Made from more mature leaves, culinary grade matchas are blended specifically for culinary purposes and can be used to compliment a wide variety of tastes. From smoothies, lattes, cakes, milkshakes, ice cream, chocolate and even protein bars, these grades of Matcha provide a beautiful jade green color, aroma, and nutritional benefit to any recipe. The taste is still sweet and fresh, but more robust. The slightly bitter, earthy undertone makes it ideal for mixing with other ingredients that overpower higher grade matchas. It is the better and more economical choice if you want to mix matcha with anything else.
And last but not least, to become an expert in knowing good quality matcha on the market, read our ultimate buyer’s guide.
Are You New to Matcha?