In general, there are three main categories of matcha: ceremonial, culinary, and ingredient.
Ceremonial grades are from Ichibancha or (first harvest) leaves, have a smoother flavor suitable for traditional preparation as tea (just mixed with hot water and whisked), and are more expensive. These grades are characteristically more vibrant green in color.
Culinary grades are from Nibancha (or second harvest) tea leaves, still providing beautiful color and rich, distinctive robust flavor to blended preparations (like lattes and smoothies) and recipes.
Ingredient grade matcha is from later harvest tea leaves, with a more yellow color and pronounced green tea bitter flavor. It is the most affordable grade, and is best used as an ingredient in food production or supplements.
As far as health benefits, all three grades of matcha have similar base nutrient profiles; however, ceremonial matcha will have a higher caffeine and l-theanine content (good for energy and focus), while later harvest grades will actually have a slightly higher antioxidant catechin content. Learn more about matcha health benefits here.
It is entirely up to your personal preference which grade of matcha you use for your own enjoyment (plenty of folks use culinary matcha for tea, while others won’t even bake cookies with anything less than ceremonial). Our grade designations are simply guidelines for what we think works best for each use case.
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