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Here's Why Your Matcha Tastes Bad

By Eric Gower Aug 23, 2018

Here's Why Your Matcha Tastes Bad

There's so much matcha out there, it's crazy. If you don't get it and don't like matcha, you are being very rational, given that most of the matcha flooding the markets and Amazon is of such low quality it's even hard to call it matcha at all; it's more like ground up bad green tea leaf dust that's been forgotten about, neglected for years, dust on the dust.

Everyone seems to WANT to love matcha -- it's hard to escape its reputation for the superpowers people ascribe to it. It promises weight-loss, enhanced and ultra-healthful skin and hair, it helps you focus (yet in this relaxed kind of way), it's good for oral hygiene, has antibacterial and antiviral properties, it's full of antioxidants and catechins and polyphenols and flavanoids and all the other phytonutrients that beckon with promises of a healthier, sexier life.

Who wouldn't want to try it?!

So why does most of it taste so bad?

It's not you; it's the tea.

Lots of us hold our noses and try, often grimly, to get it down anyway, take-your-cod liver oil style, it's good for you, don't sweat the awful taste, We're willing to put up with a lot just to get all these goodies in us.

But here's the thing: matcha isn't suppose to taste bad, it's supposed to taste GREAT. But you have to start with good matcha, otherwise it just isn't going to happen. And good matcha can't really be had for bargain rates -- it requires lots of different resources to grow and process well ... there's simply no way around it.

So if you can manage to get yourself some good matcha --this site is crawling with it -- there are a few simple things you need to do to bring out its best qualities.

1) Use good water. Water is such a huge factor -- smelly water yields weird smelly tea. Make you sure you use tasty filtered water, it makes ALL the difference. If you don't trust your tap or your filter, you can always splurge a little for bottled fancy water in the store (and remember: you don't need much, just a few ounces per serving).

2) Use more matcha than you think, and less water than you think. Some good ratios to start your experiments in how thick you prefer your matcha are 1g matcha (roughly a rounded half-teapsoon) to 2 oz hot water (see next point for proper water temp).

3) Get the temperature right, ie serve it WAY cooler than your intuition tells you. Water hotter than about 175 scalds the delicate matcha. Please don't do it, you'll ruin it and wrongly conclude that you hate matcha, what you'll hate is scalded matcha. Ideal for me is about 165, though, clearly, more umami comes out at even lower temperatures, say 150-155f. Our tea sommeliers in Kyoto drink it even cooler, even as low as 135, which is pretty tepid but it tastes amazing. Hotter temps also make the chlorophyll-rich matcha bitter, since chlorophyll gets more bitter with each rising degree of hot water.

4) Serve it in something beautiful.

Do those four things. If you still don't like matcha, well, then you just don't like matcha, it would appear.

Cheers!

Eric is the founder and chief matcha evangelist at Breakaway Matcha. He's also an author, ghostwriter, editor, cooking instructor, and private chef. For 16 years, he lived and worked in Japan, where he took deep dives into all things matcha, food, literature, arts, and culture. Eric is the author of three cookbooks: The Breakaway Cook, The breakaway Japanese Kitchen, and Eric's Kitchen. He lives and works in Marin County, CA.