You've probably heard of matcha, it's everywhere. But what does it taste like?
Matcha has a very unique taste that varies from a sweetness all the way to vegetal with umami notes.
Good quality matcha should taste:
- Slightly sweet and buttery
- Lots of umami (the 5th sense)
A common question is why does matcha taste like grass?
To answer this question, it does and it doesn't, let me explain...
Every matcha is completely different, and so is the quality (just like fine wine). This varies depending on the plant used, where it's grown, what country it's grown in, the type of leaf used from the plant and the growing process.
To categorise this in a more simplistic form, the two most common grades of matcha are culinary and ceremonial.
Culinary matcha tends to be lower grade, and therefore has a slight bitter grass/hay taste. This kind of matcha is generally used for smoothies and cooking because it's cheaper. The drawbacks are that it tastes bad, and lacks important nutrients.
Ceremonial matcha is more expensive, but it tastes a lot better. A real ceremonial grade matcha should be full bodied and have a lot of nuances. For example, our matcha has a slight nutty/dark chocolate taste that is very refreshing.
Matcha consists of 5 different tasting notes:
- Umami - this is a rich and savoury flavour also found in foods such as miso soup and bone broth. High quality matcha is shade-grown, which increases chlorophyll, l-theanine and caffeine content to produce a richer taste and more health benefits.
- Smooth - a sign the matcha is of high quality. It should taste so smooth that it's like drinking buttery velvet. If it's chalky or gritty, bin it.
- Bitter - sometimes even high quality matcha can have a subtle bitter taste if prepared incorrectly. Be aware, lower quality matcha tends to taste incredibly bitter. This is because poor quality leaves are used, and less care is taken in the growth process.
- Sweet - matcha has a subtle sweet flavour to it, which balances out the stronger notes. In traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, matcha is sometimes served with sweets.
- Vegetal - it can have slight vegetal notes, but not over bearing. This is because matcha is made from whole ground tea leaves.
In addition to this, we have found that certain regions in Japan produce different flavour profiles, so when looking bare this in mind.
Here is a list of the matcha flavour profiles by region:
- Uji - light, creamy, slightly sweet
- Kagoshima (where our matcha is from) - vegetal, sweet, fresh
- Fukuoka - roasted nuts, umami, bitter
- Shizuoka - grassy, umami, creamy
- Aichi - vegetal, savoury, slightly bitter
Do some experimenting and see what you prefer in terms of taste -- you'll be very surprised. And if you like things on the sweeter side, give our Iced Matcha Latte Recipe a try, you'll love it!