So I was sent 12, identical packaged matcha samples to be tested and rated from Red Leaf Tea.
Red Leaf Tea wanted a comparison of their matcha verses popular matcha sold on Amazon.com. A number of other tea drinkers and bloggers got the same treatment too. At the time of sampling, I did not know what matcha was what other than number on the package. There was a few others who posted their results ahead of me and I did not look up their reviews. I wrote my reviews by sample number and sent in my results to find out what product was what, which I edited in for this final post.
If you follow Oolong Owl, you’ll see I prefer oolongs and pu’er, with the occassional dabble into black teas. I also like a good flavored tea and willing to drink just about anything. I steep up teas gongfu style in gaiwans all structurally rigid like, or casual tea in mug steeping. Admittedly, I’m not a traditional matcha drinker – I’m more of a modern/unconventional BAM matcha smoothie type and I prefer my matchas iced over hot. I grew up on matchas being in bubble/boba tea, as milk lattes or in sweets and pastries. Time to time I do drink my matchas hot and traditional.
For all matches I used 160f and started with a 1/3cup water. I opted to weigh out the matcha – 1 gram of matcha each, rather than volume measurement.
For equipment I used a bowl and an electric frother.
I got a bamboo whisk but in a few hours it’s my weight lifting chest day and I don’t want to gas my arms and the Tea Owls didn’t want to get messy.
Rating Scale Breakdown (out of 10)
Matcha Powder Colour – Colour of the unprepared matcha powder. This is important as matcha can range in colour as well as colour is usually an important factor of the quality of the matcha. Generally we are looking for a vibrant green matcha.
1 = there is no color. 10 = the green is bleeding my eyes.
Matcha Powder Scent – Scent of the matcha powder. Hey, I like smelling things!
1 = smells awful. 10 = I might be caught looking suspicious with green powder under my nose from smelling the matcha too much.
Prepared Appearance – Color mostly considered here as well as foam. However I’m relaxed on foam rating as I am using a frother than Owl muscle.
1 = I want to pour it out it’s so ugly. 10 = The tea should be considered art.
Bitter Sweet Scale – How bitter or sweet it is. I was told to rate bitter/sweet this way but it was awkward for me as something can be both bitter and sweet, as well a high sweetness may not equal good.
1 = Bitter! Someone sandpaper my face off. 5 = Neither bitter or sweet middle ground. 10 = Really sweet that I call shenanigans that this has been laced with sugar.
Flavor – This is a personal rating here, I’d take this with a grain of salt. A little tough to determine as well since if it is quite bitter I will rate the matcha lower.
1 = I regret drinking that. 10 = Nope, 10 was a slip of a keystroke. It’s truly a 1 not a 10 (as I run off to buy it all).
Price – Ranking of 1 through 11 (there was a tie for one price, that is why it’s not 1-12).
1 being the cheapest, 11 being the most expensive out of all the matchas per oz. Prices pulled from Amazon on May 4 2015, so current price may vary.
Matcha Comparison – Testing and Reviewing of 12 Different Matchas
Looking at the amazon listing this matcha is toting a ton of benefits and looks most like an infomercial (fat blocker! fights cancer!) without a mention of it tasting good. It has “dosing” instructions rather than directions. Pretty food pictures though and it’s gluten free and vegan (hahah)! Reading through the listing there is no mention where this matcha is from. Under the comments, it turns out this is a green tea, under middle grade, made in China.
Matcha Powder Colour 2/10 Dry leaf is like pale green chalk.
Matcha Powder Scent 2/10 The scent is quite mild, like almost nothing is there.
Prepared Appearance 4/10 – dark olive green. Foamed up okay and disappeared quickly.
Bitter Sweet Scale 1/10 SO BITTER OMG!
Flavor 2/10 – Super potent and really bitter, which is all I can taste throughout the sip. At least there was a sweet finish, but overall I wouldn’t want to drink this again. I guess if you are selling something as supplement over taste, there’s an expectation for it to not taste good.
Price #8 – $24.95 for a 4oz bag. $6.24 per oz. Matcha Organics’ 100% Pure Organic Matcha
This matcha is the only one on this list from Taiwan. This amazon listing has the least amount of information on this product.
Matcha Powder Colour 2/10 another pale pastel hue.
Matcha Powder Scent 5/10 This matcha has a lovely sweet scent but not too fragrant.
Prepared Appearance 4/10 Olive green, foamed okay.
Bitter Sweet Scale 5/10 Middle ground here as it starts sweet and ends bitter.
Flavor 4/10 Distinct cut grass and with a sweet herbal taste. Finishes off with a bitter finish. Not spectacular or any wow factor
Price #2 – $10.75 for a 8.8oz bag, $1.22 an oz. Tradition Pure Green Tea Powder, Matcha Tea Powder, Product of Taiwan is the 2nd cheapest on the list and not much wow factor especially with a few other matchas in this range tasting better.
“This matcha is recommended by many doctors… including Dr. King.” Who’s Dr King? I googled and got Martin Luther King Jr, who obviously isn’t the one recommending this matcha. This one is a Japanese matcha, Culinary Grade, quoting that the current batch is from April 2015 harvest. I am unsure if mine is from the April harvest as I didn’t purchase this myself. Sadly, out of all the matchas here, this is the only product that mentions the harvest date and there is a vague mention of Kyoto for where in Japan it is from. The listing also mentions a battery of health benefits, but mostly stresses it being an authentic Japanese product.
Matcha Powder Colour 3/10 very similar to matcha 1 with a pale chalk color.
Matcha Powder Scent 6/10 This matcha as a lightly sweet scent, not bad.
Prepared Appearance 8/10 vibrant green, wow! This one foamed up fairly easily too with tight bubbles.
Bitter Sweet Scale 8/10 pretty sweet and a nice level of sweetness.
Flavor 4/10 Really strong and quite vegetal, just like kale. I wasn’t digging this one as I found this matcha interestingly deceptive with the pale color, sweet scent, whisks up vibrant green, but tastes like sweetened kale. I could see this one enjoyed by health enthusiasts if they aren’t sick of the kale kick yet.
Price #10 – $24.00 per 4oz bag, $6.00 an oz. Doctor King 100% Organic Japanese Matcha Green Tea Powder. This one is pricey and I’m assuming the premium on Dr. King (???) name and fresh harvest. This brand also has a 1 oz Ceremonial grade available on amazon which a big shipping cost.
This matcha is another product of China and is a Culinary grade.
Matcha Powder Colour 4/10 Darker green chalk. We are going up the paint swatches, folks!
Matcha Powder Scent 6/10 The scent is kind of weird, like minty fresh almost. I do like the scent but it’s not something I associate with matcha.
Prepared Appearance 8/10 nice color, a beautiful jade under the light foam.
Bitter Sweet Scale 5/10 in the middle, it’s not too sweet but not really bitter either.
Flavor 5/10 Really mild in flavor, kind of like green leaf lettuce. Maybe I needed to use less water on this one as the flavor was so watery and bland. I’d say this matcha is pretty easy drinker but not exciting either.
Price #5 – $19.99 per 8.8oz bag. $6.00 per oz. One Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder 8.80z – USDA Certified Organic. This matcha should be lower on the list for price point since it comes up pretty watery and probably needs more product to produce flavor.
This matcha lists some health benefits but also mention of all day energy. I feel it, I’m freaking wired right now! I did a double take on the package and listing mentioning ebola. Turns out for every bag, a $1 is donated to actionaid ebola. On the pictures, this is a Chinese matcha product, sold via Thailand.
Matcha Powder Colour 7/10 a dark green colour and the 2nd darkest, and in 3rd or 4th place for most vibrant.
Matcha Powder Scent 8/10 The dry leaf smells really sweet and appealing, yum!
Prepared Appearance 5/10 foams up decently but with a muddy army green colour.
Bitter Sweet Scale 10/10 Really sweet! Unreal sweet, why is this so sweet? Looking at the listing, as far as we know it’s 100% matcha and not laced with sweetener. Or is it?
Flavor 7/10 At first, I like this one as it’s very sweet. Good contrast to the other matchas which were bitter. But overtime I found it too sweet, like juice mix TANG sweet. I don’t mind this one and would love this one personally for making smoothies and out of all of them, would preform best iced. This matcha would also make a great base for flavored drinks. I wouldn’t drink this traditional though, it’s just too sweet.
Price #7 – $21.99 per 4oz bag, $5.50 per oz. Enzo’s Private Selection Organic Green Tea Powder – 100% USDA Certified is unreal sweet, I wish there was nutritional information on this product.
This is a Japanese matcha from the Nishio region. I do like the transparency here and they cite doing radiation testing.
Matcha Powder Colour 8/10 Best vibrant color out of the 12 Matchas, though I’ve personally seen greener. Interestingly, out of all the matchas this one was the heaviest, almost half compared to another matcha. I wonder why that is?
Matcha Powder Scent 9/10 really nice as it’s sweet and creamy.
Prepared Appearance 8/10 Jade green, wow. The color is beautiful, I’d wear this! Foamed decently too.
Bitter Sweet Scale 8/10. Great sweetness without being too crazy, a pretty good level that I like.
Flavor 8/10 Pretty good, fresh sweet and creamy. Great quality here! It was lightly vegetal and grassy, but not overpowering. I set some aside to drink later and tried cool has a light roasty flavor. I like this one, I feel the quality is here and pretty good, especially for a culinary grade.
Price #11 – $29.99 per 3.5oz bag, $8.52 per oz. TerraVerve Matcha Green Tea Powder – Organic Certified by USDA – Culinary Grade is the most expensive out of all the matchas and is also the smallest package out of the bunch. Before I knew the price, I wrote “I would buy this depending on price point for a standard good matcha.” and wow, this one is not a great price point compared to the other matchas in this tasting, but out of all the matchas this one states the source, so you are paying a premium for that and non-bulk sizing.
MATCHA 7 – Kazu Foods 100% Organic Matcha, 8.8 oz
There is no mention where this matcha is from besides an image that says “Now Product of Japan”.
Matcha Powder Colour 1/10 worst color as it’s pale pale chalky green. Interestingly, out of all the matchas, this one was the lightest. I used almost double compared to Matcha 6. I wonder what made it so light?
Matcha Powder Scent 1/10 If that couldn’t get any worse, the dry leaf has a plastic scent. YUCK!
Prepared Appearance 1/10 – whisks up muddy green with a weird yellow/green foam color. Also the matcha was chunky and clumpy, making it difficult to break down while whisking.
Bitter Sweet Scale 7/10 Actually pretty sweet, like concentrated asparagus sweet.
Flavor 1/10 Strongly asparagus in flavor. The worst about this one is the rough gritty texture. This one is a pour out just on gritty texture and unappealing colour.
Price #4 – $16.99 per 8.8oz bag, $1.93 per oz. Kazu Foods 100% Organic Matcha. If I bought this tea I’d be disappointed in what I received.
After I drank this my stomach felt in pain. Either I had just too much caffeine at this point or Matcha 7 was just that awful. RUN!
Weird name for a tea brand. I would of totally ran with “MATCHA, it’s in my DNA!” RAWWRRRR TEA OWL SMASH! This matcha is a 100% organic, hand picked Chinese matcha. It is very clear that it product is not from Japan, citing this matcha will have a different taste profile, going as far as matcha was originally a Chinese drink. This matcha also lists gluten free and vegan.
Matcha Powder Colour 3/10 pale chalky color.
Matcha Powder Scent 8/10 The scent is wonderful though, really sweet and fresh – I could smell this one all day.
Prepared Appearance 1/10 UGLY – unusual brownish green.
Bitter Sweet Scale 2/10 to 4/10 pretty bitter, though not as bitter when watered down.
Flavor 3/10 quite strong and bitter. I added more water to thin it and I got green pepper notes. Overall, not that good when you take into account the strong bitter flavor and off appearance.
Price #6 – $25.00 per 10oz bag, $2.47 per oz OR #3 $1.24 for 1lb. Matcha DNA Certified Organic Matcha Green Tea 6th cheapest matcha, but this is potently strong matcha is actually cheaper since it makes more per gram. This brand of matcha sells 1oz, 3oz, 8oz and 1lb bag sizes. Technically this one is $1.24 an oz if we get the 1lb bag (since we will enter 1lb territory shortly).
This matcha is the #1 best seller for Green Tea Nutritional Supplements on amazon (why is there multiple lists for matcha???). This is a Japanese matcha in the product title and description, but confusingly, in the Question & Answers the seller states this is a Chinese product, my guess is older products were Chinese origin. This is the only matcha registered with the Vegan society, unlike the others claims of being vegan. Wait, this one is gluten free too!
Matcha Powder Colour 7/10 Darkest out of all the matchas here, though not the most vibrant as it’s got a brownish tinge to it. Tough to rate.
Matcha Powder Scent 3/10 Yuck, this smells like hay and freshly mowed lawn.
Prepared Appearance 6/10 Deep dark brownish green. The color is nice and the foam is greener than the rest.
Bitter Sweet Scale 6/10. Lightly sweet without any bitterness.
Flavor 2/10 to 5/10 This matcha is weird. At first I was like NOPE NOPE but it grew on me. The flavor has a sweet herbal and hay tinge to it. The nope reaction was mostly it tasted like how hay smelled, which normally gives me allergies, but the flavor isn’t overpowering or bitter so it wasn’t as bad once I gave it a shot.
Price #9 tie – $25.00 per 4oz bag, $6.25 per oz. Kiss Me Organics – Matcha Green Tea Powder. This vegan matcha (ha) is for sure paying the premium for being vegan. I found it comical finding out that the most hay and herbal tasting matcha is labelled vegan.
MATCHA 10 – uVernal Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder 4oz
This matcha is the #1 best seller for Amazon Gourmet Tea Gifts. Very nice flavor description on this matcha, the listing says that this matcha is naturally sweet and they don’t need to add sugary or honey to it.
Matcha Powder Colour 4/10 pale chalk but this one has a bit of yellow in it, but not the lightest of the bunch.
Matcha Powder Scent 4/10 Light fresh sweet scent, but not that strong.
Prepared Appearance 4/10 This matcha whisks up a true army camo green!
Bitter Sweet Scale 3/10 Bitter in taste! I call shenanigans on the claim it’s sweet and it doesn’t need sugar!
Flavor 2/10 Another odd flavored matcha. This one has a bit of spice going on that reminds me of chai, with a thick stale grassy taste. I call shenanigans on this being matcha being old and contaminated. If this matcha wasn’t oddly spicy or stale, I could see this one ranking a bit higher as the thick grassy taste isn’t that bad.
Price #9 tie – $24.99 per 4oz bag, $6.25 per oz. uVernal Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder is #1 best seller? Must be the pretty dark packaging.
MATCHA 11 – Red Leaf Tea Starter Matcha 16oz
This is a Chinese matcha. The sales pages mostly describes the flavor of the matcha which I do like to see, all I care about is taste really.
Matcha Powder Colour 4/10 grayest of the matchas, like the saturation was sucked out of it.
Matcha Powder Scent 7/10 Though it smells nice, not as potent as Matcha 6, but sweet and creamy.
Prepared Appearance 8/10 This matcha is a pretty dark jade color with cute foam.
Bitter Sweet Scale 8/10 Good level of sweetness and not overpoweringly sweet either.
Flavor 7/10 The flavor of this matcha is sweet and fruity tangy, very similar to Matcha 5 but not over the top sweet and with more interest. The flavor also has grassy and green pepper notes.
Pretty good overall. Similar to Matcha 5, but this one is much better as it tastes more real and less overpoweringly sweet.
Price – $14.99 per 16oz bag, $0.94 per oz. Red Leaf Tea Starter Matcha DAT price! This is a hellva lot of matcha though. You will need to be able to plow through that bag to make your purchase worth while. For that price, culinary uses would be a great application as well.
MATCHA 12 – Red Leaf Tea Deluxe Matcha 16oz
Another matcha from Red Leaf tea that is from China. The description mentions different tasting notes than the Starter version, otherwise the main difference is the price.
Matcha Powder Colour 6/10 The color here is in the middle of the pack. It’s not vibrant, but not pasty pale either.
Matcha Powder Scent 10/10 DANG it’s strong floral. This can’t be a green, this is like oolong territory.
Prepared Appearance 8/10 comes out a lovely dark jade that is nicely saturated without muddy brown. Foams okay, but we’ve established here I can’t foam matcha worth a damn. While I was whisking, the scent was strong.
Bitter Sweet Scale 7/10 Not the sweetest of all the matchas but also this one has a contrasting bitterness present.
Flavor 9/10 WHOA this is great! It’s floral, like rose and peaches with a background of grass that has a lightly bitter finish with a sweet peachy aftertaste.
However, I am unsure how conventionally tasty this matcha is, but as an oolong lover this one calls to me for the color, scent, complexity and floral taste. I would buy this one and cringe that I own a pound of it. I’ll probably chuck it into the depths of my deep freeze, next to last year’s turkey.
Price – $24.99 per 16oz bag, $1.56 per oz. 15 gram Sample size available for $2.99. Red Leaf Tea Deluxe Matcha has an excellent price for what you are getting.
RANKING and COMMENTS
My Top 3 for Taste
Matcha 12 Red Leaf Tea Deluxe Matcha
Matcha 6 TerraVerve Matcha Green Tea Powder
Matcha 11 Red Leaf Tea Starter Matcha. These 3 were my favorites and I enjoyed drinking them the most!
Considering Price Top 2
Matcha 12 and Matcha 11 from Red Leaf Tea.
The other matchas on the cheap price point are either really terrible (Matcha 7) or watery and not actually a deal per serving (Matcha 4). I would take the prices with a grain of salt as most of the matchas are in big quantities.
Matcha 5 Enzo’s Private Selection Organic Green Tea Powder, because it is so sweet, I believe this matcha has nice applications to be used in smoothies, blended with fruit and cooking.
Matcha 3 Doctor King 100% Organic Japanese Matcha Green Tea Powder for transparency and potential best known freshness.
Matcha 7 Kazu Foods 100% Organic Matcha. Just don’t, I even removed the hyperlink here so you don’t look at it. I’m tossing this one, I don’t want to inflict this matcha experience on anyone.
First off, trying this many matchas at once was pretty wild! I’m still cleaning up the matcha mess and I keep finding piles of green.
I have never waded through matcha listings on Amazon until now, it was crazy to see it sold more as an infomercial supplement than a delicious tea drink and experience. I also disliked the amount of what listings stated as a benefit of Chinese matcha is claims on Japanese radiation, which I think should be a non-issue and neglecting to comment on pollution issues in China. All the matchas except Matcha 2 have 4.5 star ratings – I question all the reviews on amazon for these matchas as they aren’t trying them all like this, and many are purchasing for supplement reasons.
The biggest disappointment was lack of transparency out of all but one Matcha, 6 TerraVerve Matcha Green Tea Powder clearly mentions where the matcha is produced, and only Matcha 3 – Doctor King 100% Organic Japanese Matcha Green Tea Powder mentions a harvest date and expiry. If I am going to fork over cash, I want to know how fresh my tea is.
I also encourage sample sizes – and out of all of these 12 Matchas only two sell smaller or sample sizes, Matcha 12 Red Leaf Tea Deluxe Matcha and Matcha 8 – Matcha DNA Certified Organic Matcha Green Tea. If you are buying close to a pound of matcha you probably want to sample it first before dropping $30.
The take away? SO MUCH MATCHA!
(Tea provided for review from Red Leaf Tea. Amazon links are affiliate, support Oolong Owl!)