Matcha is all the rage these days. The concentrated green tea is found everywhere, from iced lattes and smoothies to lip scrubs and lotions. But what many do not know about this popular tea is that there are two grades of the tea: Ceremonial and Culinary.
Ceremonial Grade Matcha is considered to be the best of the best when it comes to green tea choices. The dark green powdered tea maintains a delicate flavor and unique flavor profiles unmatched by the Culinary grade. Because of how flavorful the grade is, Ceremonial Grade Matcha is generally reserved for traditional tea ceremonies.
As its name suggests, Culinary Grade Matcha is most commonly used as an ingredient rather than a stand alone drink. More bitter in taste than its Ceremonial counterpart, Culinary Grade Matcha is generally to provide a complementary green tea flavor to lattes, smoothies, pastries, and other matcha-based foods, and is recognizable for its lighter green color.
The process in cultivating the tea is what ultimately affects the flavor profiles and versatility of both matcha grades. Ceremonial Grade Matcha only comes from tea leaves picked during the Spring Harvest at the end of April and beginning of May, whereas Culinary Grade Matcha can be made from tea leaves picked during later harvests. In regard to the leaves themselves, Ceremonial Grade Matcha only uses the younger, softer tea leaves from the upper part of the plant which provides the grade with its signature delicate, sweet flavor; Culinary Grade Matcha can conversely be made from the lower parts of the tea plant, including the stem and veins, which creates a more bitter taste.
The final distinguishing feature between the two matcha grades is their differing grinding processes. Ceremonial Grade Matcha is ground by hand using a granite stone grinder, a process which takes up to an hour to yield just 20 grams of matcha powder. Culinary Grade Matcha, on the other hand, is generally ground with metal balls in a machine grinder.
When it comes to deciding which grade to use, the flavor and purpose of the matcha powder matters immensely. Ceremonial Grade Matcha’s delicate, sweet flavor is best served on its own, whereas Culinary Grade Matcha’s more robust taste is perfect for any recipes in which the green tea flavor serves as a complement to the overall dish.
OmniBev’s Coconut Matcha Plant-Based Cold Brew makes use of Ceremonial Grade Matcha in this refreshing drink. The sweetness of the matcha combined with the complexity of the robusta bean brew allows for a smooth and creamy flavor profile in this caffeinated combination.