You may have heard of matcha already. After all, most coffee shops and restaurants have them on their menu. But, if you haven’t had them yet, you may wonder, “What does matcha taste like?”
Well, you’re not alone, and we’re here to help. This guide will tell you what it tastes like and more.
Matcha is a kind of powdered green tea. But, unlike other teas, you don’t pour boiling water over the leaves and seep them.
To make matcha, chefs get the ‘special’ leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. They steam them first. Then, they grind it to turn it into powder, which becomes the matcha. Since the leaves are now ground, you drink matcha without removing the leaves after the tea is made.
These leaves are special because before harvest, these leaves are kept shaded. Doing this makes them produce more chlorophyll. This pigment is responsible for its vibrant green color. This shading process also gives it the signature matcha taste. Also, for this reason, matcha tastes like no other green tea.
There are two main matcha grades or kinds. One grade will differ from the other in terms of taste and purpose. But, this is not to say that one is superior to the other. The leaves used for these grades are cultivated for their specific uses. That said, you should not pit them against each other.
In Japan, drinking matcha is a ritual, a ceremony. It is a whole experience characterized by relaxation and meditation. For this purpose, high-quality matcha is used, hence the name ceremonial grade. Ceremonial grade matcha is made from the first harvest of leaves. That said, they have more chlorophyll, and therefore, they have a more vibrant shade of green.
This grade of matcha is made for drinking. It has a subtle flavor that is not overwhelming.
Quality still varies per brand. Yet, the label ceremonial grade means that you’ll get at least a decent drinking experience from it. After all, it is meant to be consumed on its own.
Needless to say, ceremonial grade matcha is more expensive than the culinary grade.
Culinary grade matcha is a type of matcha meant for baking and cooking. It is also the kind usually added to lattes and smoothies.
This grade is produced from the second harvest of leaves. That said, these leaves are older than the ones used for the ceremonial grade. As a result, they have less chlorophyll, resulting in a less vibrant hue. Yet, it has a bolder flavor meant to blend well with other ingredients. Therefore, you are not to drink it like you would a ceremonial grade. Or else you would be disappointed.
Culinary grade matches best when added to cakes and cookies. You may also stir into cereals and yogurt for a nutrition boost.
So, now we come to the burning question. What does matcha taste like? Well, matcha has a complex flavor. There is not one word that describes how it tastes like. It is a mixture of distinct tastes that all come together to create a smooth, soothing drink.
Matcha is grassy and vegetal. It also has notes of sweetness and a slightly bitter taste. For this reason, some say it is bittersweet. But, what sets it apart from other teas is that it also has an umami taste.
Another way to answer the question “How does matcha taste like?” is to identify each of its flavors. Here are our tasting notes for matcha:
Because matcha is ground tea leaves, it is naturally bitter. But, depending on the quality, the bitterness will either be subtle or noticeable. Remember, matcha is not supposed to have overwhelming bitterness. It should be bitter in a good way that it blends well with the other flavors perfectly.
Again, since matcha comes from leaves, it will taste grassy. Some even compare their taste to vegetables, and they’re not wrong. The shading and steaming process heighten matcha’s vegetal taste. But then, these same processes make the flavor richer and more decadent.
You can also expect a subtle sweetness in matcha tea powder. The leaves themselves have a hint of sweetness, but of course, they’re not as if you have put sweetener in them. Matcha is just sweet enough to balance with the other flavors it has.
The last and unique taste you’ll get from matcha is umami. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is described as a meaty taste. Do you know how seaweed tastes meaty when you know it does not have any meat? The same goes for matcha. Some people even say that they taste seaweed in matcha. This is not surprising because they both have that distinctive umami flavor.
Matcha has a distinct taste. But, that taste can be affected by many factors. Before matcha lands into your cup, it undergoes some processes. And each step of these processes can affect the taste of matcha. Because of this, the answer to the question, “What does matcha tea taste like?” changes.
Here are a few factors that affect matcha’s taste:
There is a taste difference between the grades of matcha. As mentioned, the ceremonial grade has a subtle taste. Meanwhile, the culinary grade has a bolder flavor. This way, it will not be overpowered by other ingredients.
Where the matcha comes from also plays a vital role in the taste. The highest quality matcha powders come from Japan, specifically from Aichi and Kyoto. There, they have taken growing the plant as an art. So, if you want the best-tasting matcha, ensure it is from Japan.
How they grow the plant also determines the taste of the matcha. The use of pesticides and other chemicals would cause a change in flavor. Remember that you drink the green tea leaves themselves when you consume matcha. So, whatever is in them will also translate to taste. For this reason, it is best to opt for the leaves that were grown organically.
When making yourself a cup, the type of water used will also affect its taste. The taste of the water itself might interfere with the matcha flavor and aroma. For example, tap water runs through pipes made of materials that can change the taste of the water. Well water comes from the soil, and the minerals there can also affect its taste. Fresh spring water, which has the right pH and minerals fit for matcha, brings out the best in the tea leaves.
Yet another factor that affects the taste of matcha is how hot or cold the water is. Using boiling water is a mistake and results in bitter tea. The optimum water temperature for matcha is 80 C.
A lower temperature will also work if you like your matcha more mellow.
Your mix’s concentration will affect how your matcha tastes, too. If you put more powder, then you’ll have a stronger blend. Conversely, less powder would mean a milder blend. Yet, some people like it that way. The ratio ultimately boils down to individual preference.
Oxidation occurs when food pigments start to brown due to exposure to air. When it comes to matcha, browning results in a more bitter taste and a less noticeable vegetal flavor. This will affect how your drink tastes. For this reason, it is best to store them properly. We have a section about matcha’s proper storage below.
Matcha latte is matcha with milk and sugar. Some recipes include vanilla flavoring, too. That said, you might be asking, “What does a matcha latte taste like?”
The matcha latte taste is creamy and sweet due to the addition of milk and sweetener. Of course, it still has a distinct matcha flavor. It is still vegetal, but the other ingredients mask the bitterness. People who dislike the taste of matcha alone are better off trying matcha lattes first. Milk and sugar soften the taste of matcha and make it more palatable for some.
If you are not a lover of hot drinks, that’s not a problem. Matcha can be served cold too. Yet, you already know that the temperature of the water affects its taste. At this point, you might be asking: “What does iced matcha taste like?”
For starters, matcha that is not exposed to heat won’t taste as bitter. It will also be milder as the cold water won’t intensify its taste.
To sum it up, iced matcha drinks taste like mild matcha tea served cold. It is still vegetal and sweet but not as intense as conventional matcha.
When it comes to health benefits, matcha does not come up lacking. In fact, it is labeled as a superfood due to its vast nutritional value.
Matcha is chock full of chlorophyll. After all, it is powdered leaves. Chlorophyll is known to boost skin health and is also consumed as a health supplement. Other than chlorophyll, matcha also contains other antioxidants. It also has catechins and polyphenols.
On top of that, matcha has Vitamins A, C, and E. It also has zinc and magnesium.
Lastly, matcha is also a good source of l-theanine. This amino acid is associated with the feeling of alerntness we get from caffeine. But with l-theanine, you don’t get the jitters and the dreadful crash. For this reason, some people have switched from coffee to matcha.
Here are the steps to prepare matcha correctly:
That’s it! Preparing matcha may have more steps than preparing other drinks. But, this is what makes matcha unique and flavorful.
Note that the leaves do not dissolve in water when you whisk them. Instead, they get ‘suspended’ in the liquid. This means that they are distributed evenly but not dissolved.
If you leave it too long, the leaves will eventually settle at the bottom of the cup. For this reason, you should drink your matcha immediately. This is also why matcha is prepared in small servings.
Because of its unique flavor profile, matcha may not be everyone’s favorite. It is understandable, as some people do not like complex flavors. Yet, if you still want to try it, there are things you can do to make matcha taste better.
Here are some:
Putting some vanilla extract into your matcha green tea can do wonders. The vanilla flavor matches well with matcha, as it masks its bitterness and vegetal taste.
Adding sugar or sugar alternatives like agave syrup and stevia can help. Honey and maple syrup are also top options. Making your blend sweet might be the key for you to like matcha. Adding sweeteners can put the matcha taste in the background and make it more tolerable.
As mentioned above, using cold water will make milder matcha than when you use hot water. That said, it will make the taste more appealing to others who might not like an intense burst of flavors.
Adding milk makes a regular matcha a matcha latte. The milky taste makes matcha creamy, so the drink is more decadent. For this reason, some people claim that matcha tastes better this way.
Chocolate and matcha make a good pair. Some chocolate brands even have a variant that has matcha in it. If drinking matcha alone is too much for you, you can add a spoonful of it to a dark chocolate drink instead. This way, you’ll still get the benefits while getting just a hint of its taste.
Wait, what? Salt? Yes. Adding salt to your matcha can make it taste better. Salt makes the umami taste of matcha more pronounced. This might do the trick for lovers of the sweet and salty combo.
Here are some tips to properly store your matcha:
Matcha is prone to oxidation. Oxidation takes away matcha’s nutritional value and negatively affects its taste. Because of this, using an airtight container to store it is a must. Doing so ensures that exposure to air is at the minimum.
Always use a dark or opaque canister when storing your matcha. Doing so minimizes its exposure to light and keeps its chlorophyll content intact.
As with any powder, matcha should not be exposed to moisture. Humidity makes your powder stale and bland. It also affects the texture of your matcha.
Heat is another matcha enemy. For this reason, you should never place it near burners or ovens. Placing it in the fridge is best if you want to take extra care of your matcha. Yet, you must know that you should seal it, or it will absorb the odors inside your fridge.
Ah, matcha. What does it taste like? Good matcha has a balance of all its flavors. It is a flavorful blend of sweet, vegetal, and bitter tastes.
Matcha is also a relaxing drink that packs a lot of health benefits. If you haven’t tasted it before, we hope we’ve given you enough reasons to try it. After all, you already know the answer to the burning question, “What does matcha taste like?”
Yes, matcha has caffeine. In fact, matcha has more caffeine than regular green tea since you consume the leaves. Yet, coffee still has more, given that you use the same amount of each. But since matcha is not as bitter, it is easier to overdo matcha and put more of it in your cup. When this happens, you can consume more caffeine in your cup of matcha than if you were drinking coffee.
Bad matcha powder does not have a balanced flavor. It is bitter instead of bittersweet. Plus, bad matcha lacks the vegetal and umami flavors matcha is known for.
In a way, matcha tastes like green tea. After all, it is green tea. Both matcha and regular green tea come from the leaves of the same plant. So, if you get asked, “What does matcha taste like?” you can say that it shares the same flavor notes as regular green tea. But, the leaves that make matcha are shaded before harvest. Plus, the leaves themselves are ground to make matcha. That said, matcha has a more intense green tea flavor than regular green tea.