Matcha Buying Guide


matcha grade buying guide

Many people has the misconception that matcha = bitter, actually this is not correct. Only lower grade matcha has high bitterness, higher grade matcha has very low to no bitterness. Bitterness is different from matcha taste, high grade matcha has good matcha taste but low bitterness.

The grade of tea leaf is mainly depend on the maturity of the tea leaf. The youngest tea leaf, which located at the tip of tea tree, is the highest grade tea leaf. Moving down from the tip, are the older tea leaves which is lower grade.

Younger tea leaf (Higher grade) has the following characteristic

  • Bright green colour
  • Higher level of L-theanine and less Catechines. L-theanine is the souce of umami sweetness and Catechins is the source of astringency (bitterness). Therefore higher grade matcha has more umami (loan word from Japanese, meaning pleasant savory taste) and lower astringency

Because younger tea leaf has higher level of plant sweetness (umami) [What is umami?], matcha made with younger tea leaf is more suitable for making matcha tea. The highest grade is used to make thick tea (Koicha) in tea ceremony, while 1 grade down from the highest grade is suitable for making thin tea (Usucha).


Mature tea leaf has stronger astringency taste, therefore matcha made with mature tea leaf is more suitable for blending with latte, smoothies, add to dessert as topping. Matcha made with the lowest grade tea leaf has the strongest astringency, generally used in kitchen for baking and preparing food.


Below is our matcha buying guide:

matcha color and umami comparison chart


Ceremony Matcha or Matcha for Tea

  • Pick this if you want to taste the real high grade matcha tea, with high umami taste
  • Pick this if you hate the bitterness from matcha, ceremonial matcha has very low or no bitterness
  • Directly brew with hot water to make matcha tea
  • Used in tea ceremony to make thick tea or thin tea
  • Making matcha latte with high umami and low astringency
  • You may also use this for baking, it has high matcha taste and low bitterness. Do not pick this is you prefer high bitterness.


Cafe/Classic Matcha

  • Make matcha thin tea, casual brewed matcha
  • Make matcha latte
  • Blend with coffee, latte, smoothies etc
  • Used as dessert or ice-cream topping
  • Can be used in cooking and baking too


Kitchen / Culinary Matcha

  • Baking or confectionery
  • Blend with coffee, sweet drinks, smoothies etc
  • Cooking
  • Making matcha latte 
  • Can be used for drinking too but high in bitterness


Organic Matcha

  • Organic matcha comes in different grade. Main differences between organic and non-organic matcha is organic matcha made with tea leaves grown in farm which following the strict organic standard from Japanese Agriculture Standard (JAS). Organic fertilizer is used in the growing process.
  • Organic matcha just like non-organic matcha, categorized in ceremonial grade, cafe grade and kitchen grade. We have organic matcha in every category, check out each of them.


Matcha Purpose

Below is just our recommendation, you can prepare your own matcha in any way you like, there is no strict rule in the world of matcha.

We categorized our matcha based on experience and with advice from Japanese expert. Many matcha products in the market label low grade matcha as premium grade, that's why you can see many premium matcha with low price in the market. If cost is a major concern, you still may use kitchen grade matcha for all purposes.


    Some General Questions:

    I hate the bitterness from matcha, which one should I buy?

    Our ceremonial grade matcha has very low to no bitterness, even you make matcha tea without adding sugar. It has good matcha taste.


    I love strong bitter taste, which matcha should I buy?

    Kitchen grade matcha has the strongest taste, if you put too much in a cup, it may become too bitter for some people.


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