Asked and Answered Vol. 2: Matcha Grades

Asked and Answered Vol. 2: Matcha Grades
Ippodo is proud to offer over ten different named grades of matcha. Since many people are new to our tea, and matcha in general, we are often asked about what grade to choose among all of our options.

What is the difference between the matcha grades?
To put it simply, the difference between the different matcha names is in taste, aroma, and color. Each matcha in our selection is on a spectrum from lighter, more astringent matcha on the lower end, to umami-rich and sweeter matcha on the higher end. To explain these differences in detail, let's look at three different selections from our lower, middle, and upper categories.


1. Lower: Hatsu-mukashi

1. Lower: Hatsu-mukashi
Taste: Refreshingly bitter. Not a full or long aftertaste.
Aroma: Light and grassy. An aroma akin to Japanese paper washi.
Color: Matte yellow-green.
Recommendations: A good matcha for mixing, as in matcha smoothies or lattes. It also imparts a nice green color for making matcha desserts. Made as straight matcha, Hatsu-mukashi is light and astringent, so it pairs well with snacks and sweets.

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2. Middle: Ikuyo-no-mukashi

2. Middle: Ikuyo-no-mukashi
Taste: A balance of matcha astringency and sweetness.
Aroma: A gentle, but bright aroma, like sun-dried straw.
Color: Light, medium green. Brighter than Hatsu-mukashi, but not quite the deep forest green of higher grades.
Recommendations: A great everyday matcha. It has some sweetness, but lightness as well, so you might find yourself whisking another bowl after the first. Also good for making sweets or lattes with a richer green color and more robustness.

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3. Upper: Ummon-no-mukashi

3. Upper: Ummon-no-mukashi
Taste: Little-to-no astringency, with thick umami richness and sweetness.
Aroma: Sweet, yet lush, like a misty evergreen forest.
Color: Vivid emerald green.
Recommendations: Delicious served straight as usucha or koicha (thick matcha). Just one bowl serving is meditative, calm, and fully replenishing. This is a grade for people who truly love matcha.

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Final pointers: It is easy to tell the difference in taste, aroma, and color, no matter which two matchas from the selection. One of the pleasures of matcha is mixing and matching the grade to the situation and mood.

Experimenting with different varieties until you find your favorite can be a lot of fun!


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