September 25, 2020

Naoki Matcha Ceremonial Grade v Limited Edition Chiran

Matcha from left to right: generic matcha; Naoki Fragrant Yame Blend Ceremonial Grade; Naoki Master's Collection Limited Edition Chiran Harvest

Not all matcha is created equal and one way to distinguish quality is the color of the matcha powder. I received two matcha from Naoki Matcha for review. Here I contrast them with a matcha I ordered from a bulk nuts and seeds company. I have enjoyed many matcha lattes made from this bulk order company, by the way.

Matcha is a Japanese green tea. Leaves destined to become green teas are not oxidized in order to maintain the leaves green color. Matcha is a unique green tea. The entire leaf minus the veins and stems is ground to create the tea powder we whisk into a froth and drink. Three weeks before the leaves are plucked, tea plants grown for matcha production are 90% shaded to increase the production of chlorophyll which is the pigment involved in photosynthesis and the coloring of green leaves.

A darker matcha powder means a better matcha tea. What does "better" mean? In addition to color which indicates that the leaves were well shaded for a long period of time, there is the matter of taste. Beyond the primary notes of vegetal, marine, and umami, high quality matcha should exhibit other flavors and aromas. I learned about matcha, Japanese green tea, and other teas in an ITEI course.

 I found the Naoki Fragrant Yame Blend Ceremonial Grade to be floral and fruity "with a thick body and underlying smooth umami." I would recommend this matcha for people new to matcha. It's sweetness makes it very palatable and easy to drink. 

On my Instagram feed, I wrote that the Naoki Master's Collection Limited Edition Chiran Harvest 2019  is not for beginners. I am sticking with this assessment. Although matcha is only made from the leaf blades, this matcha tastes like it was produced from the leaves, veins, stems, and roots. The matcha is full bodied but smooth. I don't subscribe to drinking tea for health. But, I felt like the tea was infusing my cells and powering me up. This matcha does not have a sweet profile which is why I don't recommend it for beginners. I think OG matcha drinkers will enjoy it and newer matcha drinkers can drink up this thick matcha.

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