What does matcha actually taste like?

With its brilliant green color, matcha just looks healthier even if you have no idea why. But how does it taste? If you have tried matcha before and loved it, then you probably would have met some problems in describing how it tastes to friends and family. This is not uncommon, as good matcha usually tastes complex.

The taste of matcha

When matcha lands on your tongue, it tastes “green”.  As matcha is made from tea leaves, there is an inevitable comparison to fresh vegetables. Assuming you are using a relatively high quality matcha, there will be a dash of mild bitterness / earthiness. As you gulp the matcha down, you start to  feel the full texture and the aftertaste. of the matcha beverage.  Matcha’s taste is often compared to the first taste of dark chocolate or red wine – something completely new yet alluring at the same time.

Depending on the blend of matcha powder (and how you prepare it), your experience will vary widely. The aftertaste could resemble a sweet nuttiness, an intense savoury flavor, floral or bittersweet notes, perhaps even all of the above! This will linger for awhile and then slowly fade away. The matcha aftertaste is what gets people so obsessed with matcha.

The reason for this variety in aftertaste boils down to the farmer’s technique in cultivating the shaded growth phase before harvest. A tea master’s blending technique of different leaves (from different tea plants) also contributes to the creation of unique matcha tastes and blends. The shading process leads to the buildupaccumulation of amino acids and chlorophyll in the tea leaves in the final weeks before harvest, and the blending process by the tea master moderates the flavors, creating a highly enjoyable taste for drinkers.

Altogether, this makes it difficult to describe the taste of matcha. Just like the first time you tried an espresso shot, it may not be  immediately enjoyable. Expect to drink matcha a few times before finding it enjoyable and appreciating the complexity of its taste. If you have never tried matcha before, a good introductory version is our Superior Ceremonial Matcha or Organic Ceremonial Matcha Blends.

What good matcha should taste like

The descriptions above are characteristic of good matcha. A skilled tea master will create matcha blends that are balanced, such that there is no one dominating taste that will overpower everything else. The taste will transition gradually and softly,  into a pleasant aftertastes. 

Good matcha should always have a smooth mouthfeel. Any initial bitterness should be subtle and blend gently with the taste receptors on your tongue. This should be followed by a slow, lingering after taste that starts with a light sweetness but ends in a nuanced, almost savoury note.

What bad matcha will taste like

A bad matcha tends to be unbalanced. with a dominant matcha flavor  that is so potent that it tastes unpleasant. This usually means that the matcha is too bitter or astringent. The texture could also be unpleasant.  However, do note that how you prepare matcha greatly affects its taste. In our experience, roughly a third of “bad” matcha experiences are due to improper preparation or storage.

We describe matcha as “blends” because they are combinations of different tea leaves from different growers / cultivars combined by tea masters to create  unique flavors. We used spider graphs to map out the flavors and textures of  our matcha blends. To serve as quick and easy visual guides. This will allow you to make convenient comparisons and decide whether a particular matcha blend will be promising.

How do we score matcha on taste?

We describe matcha as “blends” because they are combinations of different tea leaves from different growers / cultivars combined by tea masters to create different flavors. We use spider graphs to map out the flavor and textures of such matcha blends. This gives you a quick and easy visual guides to see if a particular matcha blend will be promising and also allows for convenient comparisons.

For example, below are the spider graphs for our Superior Ceremonial Matcha and our 2019 Chiran  Harvest Ceremonial Matcha.

Superior Ceremonial Matcha

2019 Chiran Harvest Ceremonial Matcha

The Superior Ceremonial Matcha has a balanced vegetal taste that is not as nuanced as it is meant for beginners to start off their matcha journey and is more suitable for use in lattes. On the other hand, the 2019 Chiran Harvest Ceremonial Matcha has a more dynamic flavor profile that would be more suitable for experienced people who have tried different types of matcha.

From a quick look at the spider graphs, it is  apparent that the Chiran blend has a distinctive sweet flavor that is also low on bitterness and astringency. If you like to drink matcha straight as tea or usucha, then this chart would look quite exciting to you! As we ourselves grow in our matcha journey, we will map out the spider tasting graphs for each of our blends.

We hope you enjoyed this article. Perhaps in the future when friends ask what matcha tastes like, you could rely on this article to answer their question with greater clarity.

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Try Naoki Matcha today

We work with tea estates, factories and blending experts to create matcha blends tailored to your needs. Available for purchase on this site with free standard shipping or on Amazon.com

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