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Difference Between Culinary and Ceremonial Grade Matcha

Ceremonial grade matcha

You probably know that matcha is a delicious herbal addition to smoothies, lattes, and baked goods, or as a tea. Did you know, though, that there are two major “grades” of matcha: ceremonial matcha and culinary matcha? Neither of the grades is better, but they are certainly different. In this brief guide, we’ll help you understand those differences so you can get the most out of the matcha you buy.

What is ceremonial grade matcha?

To understand what makes ceremonial matcha special, you first need to understand that there is a rich history and culture behind matcha. Ever since it was originally cultivated by China and introduced to Japan during the 13th century, ceremonial matcha has been an important part of Eastern culture and even some religious ceremonies.

Today, some people enjoy matcha for its subtler properties in the way that people might appreciate high-quality coffee or wine. For those “matcha purists”, unadulterated ceremonial matcha is the gold standard.

Ceremonial grade matcha

Benefits of Ceremonial Matcha

The biggest benefit of ceremonial grade matcha when compared to culinary matcha is the higher amount of chlorophyll it contains. The result is that it gives the drinker an energized feeling, similar in effect to a basic caffeine buzz but without the crash or any of the possible negative side effects. Chlorophyll also helps to ward off sickness in the long term.

Ceremonial matcha also contains lots of:

  • Catechins
  • EGCG
  • L-Theanine

In other words, it’s a powerhouse of vitamins and micronutrients, all packaged in a powder with a complex and subtly sweet flavor.

Read more: Getting Good Quality Matcha

How to use ceremonial matcha powder

To enjoy the subtle flavor of ceremonial grade matcha, you’ll want to make a simple tea or latte with it. The steps are relatively straightforward:

  1. If you’re preparing pure matcha tea, boil 150ml of water. If you’re making a ceremonial matcha latte, boil 50ml of water and steam 100ml of milk.
  2. Put 2 grams (about .3 tsp) of ceremonial matcha in a teacup. Use a bamboo whisk or thin mesh strainer to make sure it has absolutely no lumps.
  3. Pour 50ml of water onto the matcha and gently whisk it. This should create a pleasant green foam.
  4. After the matcha foams up, add the remaining water for tea or the milk for a latte. Either way, whisk as you add the liquid until a froth appears on the surface.

Read more: Raw Vegan Matcha Mousse Panna Cotta Recipe

What is culinary grade matcha?

Culinary matcha is the bolder and more pronounced form of matcha used to flavor sweet drinks and baked goods. It is to ceremonial matcha as pre-made espresso is to freshly-grond arabica coffee beans. That is, it’s less refined and more easily adds matcha flavor to recipes with other strong flavor profiles.

Culinary grade matcha

Benefits of culinary matcha

In terms of health benefits, the main advantage of culinary matcha vs ceremonial matcha is the higher levels of antioxidants it contains. They make culinary matcha very good for your immune system and even contribute to cancer prevention, so its addition is a good way to offset the negative health effects of the sugary recipes it is normally added to.

How to use culinary matcha powder

Culinary matcha powder is very easy to use. Just toss it into a smoothie, mix it into ice cream, or knead in into a baked good during preparation to add a pleasant twist of flavor!

If you prefer a purer matcha drink but still want to enjoy the bold flavor of culinary matcha, follow these steps to prepare a sweet culinary matcha latte:

  1. Steam 250ml of milk.
  2. Put 3 grams (about half a tsp) of culinary matcha in a mug. Use a bamboo whisk or thin mesh strainer to make sure it has absolutely no lumps. This is important since matcha clumps very easily.
  3. Pour 50ml of the steamed milk onto the matcha, whisking as you do. The goal is to make the matcha and milk foam up.
  4. Once the matcha foams, pour all of the remaining milk onto it, whisking as you do.
  5. Add a healthy dollop of honey or sugar to make the latte sweet if desired! Unlike ceremonial grade matcha, sweeteners won’t overpower the bold flavor of culinary matcha.

Difference Between Culinary & Ceremonial Matcha

When it comes to ceremonial vs culinary matcha, the main differences come from when the matcha is harvested and what part of the matcha leaf is used.

Ceremonial matcha is only harvested during the first matcha harvest of the year, which occurs at the start of Summer. The harvesters choose only the softest leaves and take only the bodies of the leaves (not the stems or veins).

Culinary matcha comes from the entire leaf, and the leaves selected for culinary matcha can be a bit harder. Not only does that mean harvesting is easier, but it also means that all the matcha grown in the second harvest season of the year becomes culinary matcha.

The harvesting methods and times result in several differences between ceremonial vs culinary matcha, outlined in the table below.

Matcha GradeCeremonial MatchaCulinary Matcha
Primary UseTraditional Japanese tea ceremonies, standalone tea or matcha latteCulinary applications: cooking, baking, smoothies
CostHigher quality, premium pricingLower cost, affordable for cooking
ColourVibrant green hueDuller green color
FlavourDelicate, sweet, vegetal notesBold, distinct, earthy
TextureFine, smooth consistencyCoarser texture
Nutritional ValueLots of chloraphyll, amino acids, and vitaminsLots of antioxidants

If you’re interested in trying out the subtler and more complex ceremonial matcha for yourself, Shoku Iku offers the highest-grade version available – Ceremonial Uji Matcha.

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