Matcha is a unique drink with a sweet, nutty flavor, rich, smooth aroma, and many health benefits. Over the years, traditional Japanese tea-powder has gained worldwide popularity and has become one of the most fashionable modern drinks. However, some say that matcha is bitter and sour. It can happen due to various reasons which we are going to revel in our article.
Why is my matcha bitter? Matcha can be bitter either because you used the water too hot (more than 80°C/176°F) or if it was not stored properly (if matcha is exposed to heat and direct sunlight, the chlorophyll in it will start breaking down and making matcha bitter and sour).
High-quality ceremonial matcha is not supposed to taste bitter as it is smooth, delicate, sweet, and caramel-like. However, low-quality culinary or fake matcha usually tastes bitter. Matcha also can be bitter if exposed to heat and direct sunlight or stored in transparent open containers.
Ultimate Guide on How to Reduce Matcha Bitterness
Matcha tea powder goes a long way before getting on the store shelves. It is grown on tea plantations in Japan and China. The crop is harvested once a year, two or three weeks after being artificially shaded. Farmers do this so that matcha leaves are not exposed to direct sunlight. In the shade, leaves retain their juiciness and are enriched with amino acids while getting rid of bitterness.
After the young tea leaves are dried, the veins are removed from them and ground into powder. Even though matcha is green tea, it tastes significantly different from ordinary green tea. The bright taste of the drink is saturated with freshness, herbaceous aftertaste, and light viscosity.
For matcha to retain its naturally sweet and vegetal flavor and nutty, creamy aroma, it is important to use a high-quality Japanese bamboo whisk (chasen). Check out Useful Tips on How to Pick a Good Matcha Whisk for more info. To keep your matcha whisk in good condition, head over to Ultimate Guide on How to Care for a Matcha Whisk (Chasen)
See also: Why Is Matcha So Popular? The Real Truth
How do you reduce the bitterness of matcha? To reduce the bitterness of matcha, add honey, stevia, or agave to it. However, matcha is better consumed just with water to get the most health benefits as it is naturally sweet. There is no way to reduce the bitterness of matcha that was stored incorrectly when chlorophyll was exposed to heat.
To make matcha taste better, add steamed or frothed plant-based milk (almond, coconut, macadamia nut, soy, oat, or rice) or cinnamon to spice the drink up. You can add orange peel, lemon or lime, coriander, or fresh ginger to matcha to reveal its complex and deep flavor.
If possible, you should buy only high-quality matcha to get the most out of its health benefits. A high price is often an indicator that matcha was grown in clean areas, far from major cities and factories. The danger is that the plants can absorb lead, which you then consume along with the tea powder.
How do you hide the taste of matcha? To hide the taste of matcha, add 1/2 teaspoon of matcha in your smoothie, oats, or in a cup of apple/orange/pineapple juice which will not reduce any of the health benefits of matcha and at the same time hide its taste. Matcha can be added to muffins, scones, healthy cookies instead of flour.
The taste, color, and aroma of matcha depend to a large extent on the variety that is used for its production and on the harvest period.
- Matcha Variety
There are now over 55 registered cultivars in Japan, and there are still many unregistered but actively used varieties. Manufacturers often blend several cultivars with different flavors, colors, and aromas to create matcha tea.
- Collection period
The most delicate and expensive matcha varieties are produced from the raw materials of the first spring harvest. The second and third summer harvest is usually used to create standard and culinary varieties.
Are you wondering why your matcha is not frothing? Check out 7 Reasons Why Your Matcha Does Not Foam!
- Organic cultivation
In organic cultivation, farmers do not use insect repellents, and the plant begins to intensively produce catechins to protect itself. These beneficial antioxidants have high antibacterial properties and a tart taste that repels insects. Therefore, organic tea will have a more astringent taste, herbaceous color, and aroma compared to conventionally grown tea.
How do you fix bitter matcha? Bitter matcha can be fixed by adding honey, sugar, agave, or stevia, however, it will not be as healthy as drinking pure matcha. If your matcha turned bitter due to high temperatures or chlorophyll interacting with air or light, nothing can be done to fix bitter matcha.
Matcha is an effective detox tea that helps the liver to cleanse itself, so matcha is often prescribed as part of comprehensive health and weight loss programs. Matcha may activate natural metabolism and help the body burn off bad fat stores. Matcha is one of the most effective appetite suppressants as this tea is high in fiber.
Matcha contains a huge amount of chlorophyll, a substance that helps to bind and remove heavy metals from the body. Matcha aids in smooth awakening and focusing, essentially acting like coffee but without the inverse effect of caffeine depletion.
Why Does Matcha Taste Bad?
If matcha tastes bad, it was either stored incorrectly (matcha must be stored in an airtight container in the fridge as chlorophyll turns bitter when exposed to heat) or it is of bad quality. Even though low-quality culinary matcha is inexpensive, it is bitter and sour with fewer health benefits.
How do you know when matcha is bad? The signs of bad matcha are dull green, brown, or yellowish color as well as bitter or sour taste. Matcha goes bad when it is stored in open containers without a lid or when it is exposed to heat, air, or light. Fresh matcha is always vibrant green with a rich, sweet, and delicate flavor.
Japanese matcha tea, like other high-quality Japanese teas, is recommended to store in a tightly closed container in a cool, dark place at an air temperature of no more than + 25°C and relative humidity of no more than 75%. For matcha tea, the effects of high temperatures (sudden temperature changes), humidity, sunlight, and foreign odors are detrimental.
At home, the best place to store matcha tea and other green Japanese teas are in a regular refrigerator. When storing matcha in the refrigerator, always put the tea back after use without leaving it in a warmer place for a long time.
Why does my matcha taste weird? Matcha may taste weird if it was exposed to heat, air, or direct sunlight as chlorophyll turns bitter and sour after interacting with oxygen or high temperatures. Matcha can also taste weird if it was made with the use of unhealthy additives out of low-quality leaves.
Premium matcha tea is not as sweet as ceremonial but also not as intense as culinary. This variety is also rich in all nutrients, but the leaves for it are harvested a little later, so it tastes more intense and bitter than ceremonial.
Why Is Matcha Bitter? FAQ
If matcha tastes bad, it can be either because you used water too hot (more than 80°C/176°F), stored matcha incorrectly (exposing it to heat, extreme temperatures, or oxygen/not storing matcha in the fridge), or matcha is of poor quality. Buy high-quality ceremonial matcha that is creamy and sweet.
How do you make matcha latte less bitter? To make matcha latte taste less bitter, add more plant-based milk (coconut and almond are the most popular, but you can also add rice, oat, buckwheat, or soy milk). You can also add more sugar, agave, stevia, honey or add less matcha in the first place.
Any plant-based milk (coconut, almond, macadamia nut, soy, rice, buckwheat) will add sweetness and creaminess to matcha and make it taste nice. You can also try adding agave or honey. Lemon/lime zest, orange peel, cinnamon, and ginger help to reveal the deep flavor of matcha.