With so many cheap options out there, you might be very reluctant to pay high prices for a green tea powder. I've heard hundreds of questions from avid amateur tea drinkers that like to buy their „matcha“ on eBay. What are you actually buying when you pay 2 bucks for 100 grams of green tea powder labeled as matcha? Nothing much. So, why is matcha so expensive?
Difference between fake "matcha" and matcha (Source: Tea Chronicles ©)
What is matcha?
First, let's explain what matcha really is. Matcha comes exclusively from Japan, most often from Uji, Shizuoka, Yame or Kagoshima. Because of the special soil, special climate and special growing conditions, it has a very distinct taste and flavor. Matcha is shaded for 3-4 weeks prior harvesting. This gives a special taste called umami. It is then processed to make a new type of tea called tencha. Tencha doesn't contain any stalks or stems and it looks like little fully dark green flakes. Special mills are used to ground it into a fine powder. All those other „matcha“ teas (even the Korean ones), cannot really be considered matcha. They grow on different kinds of soil, quite often are not even shaded, and most often contain stalks and stems.
How does matcha look like?
First and the most obvious difference is the color. Vivid green color can easily be noticed in real matcha. Matcha is made from special tea cultivars and because of shading has more chlorophyll that regular green teas. Powder will always be finely grounded, without big lumps. Scent is more intense, green-vegetables like and fresher than of any other green tea. Savory amazing flavor is what one should really look for in matcha, perfect experience that brings pleasure and peace, and not only a bargain price.
So, why is matcha so expensive?
One important fact to keep in mind when you buy tea online is that quality always costs more. You might think your bargain went well, but there is not much bargaining with good teas. You will rarely find real matcha (30-40 grams, lowest grade) for less than 6-10 dollars. Time, effort, knowledge, area, the amount and quality of leaves, type of shading and plucking, type of grounding, are only some of the factors that give matcha high price tag.