Tea that is too cheap is hardly matcha. It is made from senchi bushes, an inexpensive variety of green tea. This tea is marsh green in colour and smells of fish and hay.
The real matcha, on the other hand, is flavoured with caramel and chocolate. In many cafes, alas, they often serve cheap matcha, even the milk can’t hide the nasty bitterness.
Mid-priced matcha tea start
It should be pleasant and delicate, yet full-bodied. If the matcha smells like dry hay, seaweed, fish or jasmine, it is either not matcha or has lost its properties during processing or storage.
It should be bright and juicy, emerald green. This colour means that the variety has been stored gently, without contact with oxygen or sunlight, which means it has retained all of its properties.
A dark or dirty yellow colour means that the variety is either not matcha at all or has lost its properties through improper storage.
There are several things to look out for: