Many people who are about to start with matcha wonder to what extent culinary and ceremonial matcha are different from each other. We're happy to explain the differences to you.
Ceremonial matcha is drunk in Japan at traditional tea ceremonies and should therefore only be mixed with water (or a small amount of milk). Like a fine wine, ceremonial matcha has a very delicate taste and is highly appreciated for the subtle nuances in its flavor profile.
Culinary matcha, on the other hand, is more robust and bitter in taste and - as the name says - is often used in cooking or mixing. Due to its more intense flavor, culinary matcha can penetrate better through the other ingredients. For example, culinary matcha is often used for matcha drinks and dessert recipes, ranging from matcha lattes, smoothies, ice cream to matcha chocolate and other culinary creations (be sure to visit our instagram page for more inspiration). Regarding the differences in the cultivation and production process between ceremonial and culinary matcha, these are some important distinguishing elements:
Time of harvest
Ceremonial matcha is harvested in the spring (around late April or early May), while culinary matcha can also come from a second crop of the year, the quality of which is normally slightly lower.
The tea leaves
Only the younger, 'virgin' tea leaves of the upper part of the tea plants are suitable for Ceremonial matcha (younger leaves are softer and sweeter). The tea leaves for culinary matcha come from the lower part of the tea plants.
Ceremonial matcha contains only the 'softest' (and therefore sweetest) part of the leaves; the harder 'stems' and 'leaf veins' (which can taste bitter) are all filtered out. Culinary matcha is slightly less strict and can also contain the harder parts of the leaves.
Ceremonial matcha must be manually ground in the traditional way with a granite stone grinder. This is a very slow process that can take up to 1 hour to grind a small 20g can of matcha powder. Culinary matcha is generally pulverized coarsely with metal balls in a larger machine.
Which matcha suits you best?
Are you ready to start with matcha? Then start by asking yourself, "What kind of matcha drinker am I?" Are you a connaisseur who appreciates the subtle notes of the pure, energetic ceremonial matcha tea? Or are you rather tempted by delicious matcha lattes or other culinary adventures?
In any case, we believe you can't lose by trying them both!
Our Shēdo Ceremonial Matcha
Our Kōyō Culinary Matcha