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What Does Matcha Taste Like? The Wine-ification of Matcha Descriptions

By Eric Gower Oct 23, 2018

What Does Matcha Taste Like? The Wine-ification of Matcha Descriptions

Matcha, like many things we put inside our bodies, has a taste spectrum.

Some of it tastes sublime, and some of it is disgusting to the point of being unpotable. And there's everything in between.

I think many of you know what bad matcha tastes like. As my daughter Daphne once memorably described it when she was five:

"Papa, you know how some kids have aquariums that are not very clean? And there's that green stuff sort of growing on the glass? What if you drained it and scraped that up with a razor blade, then dried it, then mixed it with water and drank it. That's what some of that yellowy matcha tastes like!"

It's apt, and it's true; bad matcha has strong pondy notes. Muddy. Swampy even. It's really not pleasant.

So let's talk about something more pleasant.

Good matcha tastes very, very different. If it's been shaded properly, it should have a staggering amount of chlorophyll in it -- it'll be almost hallucinogenically green. Its aromas will be redolent of raw cacao, mixed with light itself (if light had an aroma, that is).

We're living in an age where so many things are getting sommelier-ified. It used to be only wine that got the ornate --often comical, even -- descriptions ... things like "barnyard on a forest floor, with a hint of pencil shavings and petrol."

Coffee, too, has been on this trajectory for a long time. "Herbal peach, ripe melon, graham cracker," says one description from a popular coffee site.

And some chocolate bars are described as "notes of green grape and creme fraiche."

We do it too, with matcha.

Here's how some of our matcha strikes us, taste-wise:

"This matcha is pure pleasure -- it's like drinking light infused with chlorophyll. It bestows a brothy umami torrent that continues long after swallowing (up to several full minutes of finish). Dominant aromas are freshly picked young peas, shiitake, and sweet cream."

And:

"Lovely sweet notes emerge from this chlorophyll-rich blend of choice tencha leaves from a family coop in Uji. Tastes like sous-vide-cooked baby vegetables and miner's lettuce."

The point of all this descriptive language is an attempt to convey, through words on a page, what something actually tastes like, and metaphor is often the best way.

So: good matcha tastes FANTASTIC, like nothing you've ever tasted. It's an experience you should try at least once in your life.

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.