What Does Matcha Taste Like?
What Does Matcha Taste Like?
Have you ever been asked to describe the taste of water? Because that’s kind of how we feel when people ask what matcha tastes like. It feels impossible. Not because there aren’t words to put to the flavors but because everyone’s taste buds are different. Nonetheless, we are going to do our best to conquer this question and tell you exactly what matcha tastes like.
Ceremonial vs Culinary Grade
Another thing that can affect the way matcha tastes is the quality. Matcha is available in many different grades: culinary, premium, and ceremonial, with culinary being the lowest quality and ceremonial being the best. Culinary grade is typically reserved for mixing with other things, like in baked goods or a latte, but ceremonial grade matcha is good to go, all on its own. So, what can you expect when you’re matcha tasting? Here’s our matcha sommelier’s take on matcha tasting notes.
Matcha Tastes Like…
Whether enjoyed alone or mixed into a baked good or confection, matcha has a distinct taste. But how do we describe that taste? That’s what we’re here to uncover. We’ll be discussing the taste of high-quality ceremonial grade matcha (just like our Tenzo matcha) only because the taste of lesser quality matcha is often overshadowed by slightly bitter notes. Whisk up a batch of your favorite matcha, sit back, relax, and go on this tasting journey with us.
If you’ve just taken a sip, this is likely the first taste you’ll encounter. A vegetal, almost grassy flavor is one of the most prominent notes in matcha. Which makes sense… Matcha is made by grinding up the leaves, stem and all, of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Keeping the stems in is what gives matcha its high fiber content and vegetal taste. Think green tea, but stronger.
You’ve probably heard this word used many times in references to a meat flavor but rarely to describe tea. But, we’re forging through all kinds of new territory today, and umami tea is just one of them. Umami is a rich, savory flavor often associated with things like mushrooms or miso soup. It’s rich and coats the tongue, and in high-quality matcha, is a noticeable flavor profile. If you’re sipping along with us, you might notice this as an ocean-like, slightly salty, seaweed-esque flavor.
This unique tasting note is only found in one type of tea, and surprise, that’s matcha. When a green tea plant is destined to be matcha, it spends the last few weeks of the growing process in the shade. This lack of light encourages chlorophyll development, preserves nutrients & amino acids, and gives matcha its trademark green shade and umami flavor.
Have your cup of matcha ready? Take a sip. First, you noticed the vegetal flavor, then the umami notes, and finally a lingering sweetness. Although matcha has a primarily “savory” flavor profile, you’ll find plenty of notes of sweetness in ceremonial grade matcha. It’s not the same as an overly sweetened latte, but it’s a light refreshing sweetness that helps to balance the many strong flavors of this time-honored tea. And it’s what makes matcha so great for baked goods.
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat, if you have high-quality matcha and you’ve prepared it correctly, there will not be an overwhelming bitterness but rather a subtle touch of bitter notes. However, in culinary grade matcha, you’ll often find that the bitter notes are strong and lingering. And, in fact, bitterness is a great way to determine the quality of your matcha.
It’s not really a taste, more like a feeling, but smoothness is something always attributed to ceremonial grade matcha. Like a good glass of wine, matcha should have a full-bodied taste and a prominent aftertaste. Lack of smoothness usually comes down to how the matcha was prepared. So we suggest sifting your matcha before whisking it to ensure that it’s smooth and frothy instead of thin and watery.
Mystery Solved: Matcha Tastes Like Matcha
When it all comes down to it, describing the taste of matcha is really hard. That’s because there’s nothing else that tastes like it. And that’s why we love it. This unique taste goes with so many different things. Enjoy it on its own, add it to your morning smoothie, give your hot chocolate a fresh new makeover... you can even upgrade a vanilla cupcake with a little matcha. It pairs well with citrus notes and tastes delicious with chocolate. Matcha tastes like matcha, and we love it.