Friday, September 6, 2013

Matcha is not about the price or origin

Yesterday, I had a chance to drive by Yoshimitsu, a confectionery shop with a good reputation on excellent tasteing sweets. I got their sweets, and on the way back home I wanted to stop by my favorite tea shop to buy some matcha. You know, you got to have matcha when you have a nice confectionery. But unfortunately, the tea shop was closed so I went to another store and bought matcha

What I wanted to write about is not sweets. It’s about matcha. The matcha I bought yesterday cost 1575yen (20g) and it's from Uji, Kyoto. When I think of the price, I was not satisfied with the tea, because it lacks the kick of umami. The flavor consists of grassy bitterness but not umami. It is like "senchatic" flavor and I wanted more richness and depth in taste.

My standard matcha is 1050yen (20g) from Toyota, Aichi. It has much nicer rounded flavor with mouth-filling sweetness, which is less expensive than the tea I bought yesterday. Toyota is a minor matcha producing region compared to Uji, which is very popular. When you shop for matcha and find tea from Toyota and Uji, you might want to go with the tea from Uji for safer choice. But you have to keep in mind that you can’t simply determine the quality of tea just by the price or production region. They can be deceiving. This tea reminded me about it. 

I’m not saying that matcha from Uji is not good. Of course, I have tried excellent tea from Uji, too.


  1. Nice. Great point true for everything in life!
    But also one has to keep in mind the subjectivity of taste - for matcha or other things we choose.
    It is often the case that the most expensive thing is not the bets to our taste (please check Dan Gilbert at on how we make choices). But also, that our taste does not match the ranking for other people.
    In either case - good point!
    P.S. For example I do not like 90+% of the Japanese confectionery I've tried.

    1. You have the point there! People have a different preference. You have to find what you like yourself (^-^)

  2. Hence the problem of labeling and what it means or doesn't mean. I think this is even a much bigger problem in Chinese market due to very expensive aged teas and teas trying to imitate them, lack of regulation/knowledge of source, huge size and # of distributors.

    1. Oh really … there seem to have a problem in Chinese market. I hope that this kind of problem is not happening so much in Japan. Thanks for the information. Here, I’m not saying that distributors are trying to trick you or fool you. I just think that different tea has different quality, and you have to find out the value of tea yourself, by not depending on only the price or production region.

  3. Hello Kohei-san,

    Recently I tried to compare 3 different matcha, they all are different from their physical dry-forms to the tastes. All of them have different shades of green and profile taste. All different prices and are considered as good quality based on the reviews I read and everything. I wonder what the different shades of color, smell and predominant profile of taste could tell? Is there any matter with quality or just the different growing region and personal preference?

    Thank you.

    1. Some tea experts might be able to tell a lot of thing from the hue, smell and taste. But unfortunately, I don’t have such skill. What I know is general knowledge to tell good matcha. Good matcha should have laver-seaweed like smell which is created by shading the tea plants. The particle of matcha is around 1-20 micron and good quality matcha has the particles in a range of 1-5 micron. Bright green (not whitish, yellowish or reddish green) is considered good.
      From my experience, I think that soil has a lot to do with the taste of matcha. I have tried three different tea from a same region. Two of them have rich umami which I like very much, and the other one is bitter that I don’t like. The farmers for the two teas with rich umami are located close each other and the other one is a little far. Even between the two my favorite farmers, there are slight difference on their flavor. One has distinctive earthy taste, and the other one is very clear and mild. I guess those differences come from the different quality of their soil.