Beginner’s guide to matcha – Preface (Part 1 of 5)

guide, japan, matcha

Why a beginner's guide?

After returning to the US from working abroad in Japan, I became frustrated by the lack of transparency and quality in much of the matcha marketed to Western consumers. Matcha labeled “premium” or “ceremony-grade” was clearly not so, but nonetheless sold at a crazy mark-up!

I believe that this situation is tenable only as long as consumers remain uneducated about matcha. This beginner’s guide is my attempt to provide the fundamentals so the matcha-curious can get started on the right foot, without buying overpriced, non-essential utensils and low-grade matcha.

Matcha_and_wood

Overview

The guide is divided into five parts, with an emphasis on choosing the right tools and matcha to get started.

A quick aside about matcha quality in Japan versus matcha quality in the US

In the three years I practiced tea ceremony in Japan, I don’t recall a single discussion about matcha quality. Whereas among English speaking matcha drinkers, this is a frequent topic. Why?

Simply put, there’s no market for bad matcha in Japan. Through the influence of the tea ceremony schools, a handful of established tea companies have risen to prominence. The price of matcha at these companies is more or less standardized across varying grades. Competition is high and so is consumer knowledge, so bad matcha won’t sell.

Compare this situation with the experience of matcha drinkers outside Japan. There’s health claims and fads that create spikes in demand. Bad quality products continue to sell at a premium because consumer knowledge is low. To top it off, many attempts at matcha education are little more than thinly veiled marketing meant to upsell customer from “premium” to “ceremonial” grades, terms that obfuscate rather than provide transparency.

I’m not here to sell you anything. I only want bad matcha to stop selling! So here’s my no-nonsense no-bs guide to starting off right with matcha – continue on to part 2 below:

Continue reading the beginner's guide to matcha:

Preface   (this page)

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