Green Matcha Color Palette decoded Grade by Grade

By looking at the matcha green color palette, you can actually tell a lot about the matcha powder.

Certain steps in the production process give the  matcha powder its legendary green color, and when these steps are skipped, it can take on a less appealing yellow color or even brown!

In this article, we’re going to present you visual illustration about the different types of green matcha, walk through what these colors mean and why it is important when it comes to evaluating the quality of a  matcha tea.

This article presents a unique collaboration between a distinguished Japanese Green Tea expert and an accomplished graphic designer, aiming to offer you a harmonious fusion of design principles and the art of matcha 💚🍃


Matcha Green Tea Colors Explained

Different colors of matcha indicate varying qualities. Brown matcha is low quality or spoiled.

Yellow matcha is low quality and bitter, suitable for baking or heavily sweetened lattes. Speaking of which, you can read this article if you're wondering what matcha does Starbucks use

Dull green matcha is bitter but works well in lattes. It's cheaper and pesticide-free.

Bright green matcha is premium, especially from the Yabukita cultivar, with a fresh, citrusy flavor.

Jade green matcha is the highest quality, from rare cultivars like okumidori and gokou, providing an engaging drinking experience.

Look for this deep green color for the top premium matcha.

If you're interested in learning where these green color variations come from, we advice you to read the paraphes below. 


What are the different matcha colors and what do they mean?

Premium Ceremonial Matcha Grade Color

This is really what you want to look for in a matcha green tea color.

These dark jade green colors are usually indicative of not only premium matcha, but premium matcha from some of the more rare cultivars like okumidori, gokou and saemidori.

These are reserved for only the highest quality matcha powders and if produced right, they create a really engaging drinking experience as well as a deep jade green color.

This is definitely something to look out for when you are choosing the top premium matcha teas  of the world.

Are you interested to learn about what is matcha? Then we have the perfect article for you! Make sure to read the article 👉 What is Matcha? The one and only Matcha-Encyclopedia



Ceremonial Grade Matcha Color

This particular shade of ceremonial matcha green tea color, with its enchanting and vibrant hues, serves as a captivating gateway into the realm of premium matcha.

As we have previously discussed, it is worth noting that numerous exceptional matcha powders derived from the esteemed Yabukita cultivar manifest this lighter green color, often staying within this exquisite phase without progressing further.

When encountering matcha of the Yabukita variety, one can adopt a slightly more lenient approach when evaluating its characteristics.

However, it is important to keep in mind that the flavor profile of such matcha tends to lean towards the refreshing and invigorating notes of citrus, which add an extra layer of zesty vibrancy to the overall experience.

The subtle interplay between freshness and the tangy essence of citrus further contributes to the unique allure of this particular grade of matcha.


Latte Grade Matcha Color

A dull green matcha green tea color is usually suitable for a matcha latte, but may very well be too bitter to drink plain.
As we mentioned before, it is okay for the matcha to be on the more bitter side if you are making a matcha latte.

These more bitter and grassy flavors actually pair kind of well with the sweetness of the oatmilk and sugar, so it ends up working out.

You can also save money because these matchas tend to be much cheaper than their premium counterparts that are meant to be consumed plain.

The important thing with matcha, even if it is just for lattes is that it is produced without the use of pesticides or chemicals.

When you consume thematcha powder, you are consuming the entire leaf and everything that was on it, so make sure to go pesticide free!


Culinary Grade Matcha Color

When it comes to lower quality latte grade or culinary grade matcha, you'll notice a particular matcha green tea color that typically characterizes them.

This color is an indication of their lower quality and suggests that they are best suited for matcha baking or lattes where a generous amount of sugar is added.

Due to their lower quality, the flavor of these matcha varieties tends to lean towards the bitter side, making it challenging to achieve a well-balanced taste even with the addition of other ingredients.

Remember to be mindful of the matcha green tea color as it can help you identify the quality and determine the most suitable usage for different matcha grades.



Low Quality Matcha Color 

When it comes to low-quality matcha, one of the key distinguishing factors is its color.

Unlike the vibrant green hue that characterizes high-quality matcha, low-quality matcha tends to exhibit shades of yellowish tones or even hints of brown.

This lackluster color not only fails to capture the eye but also serves as a visual indicator of lower freshness and overall quality.

The dull appearance of low-quality matcha is a clear sign that it may not deliver the desired taste and overall matcha experience.

This less desirable color serves as an important clue, suggesting that the matcha powder itself may be subpar, compromising its flavor profile and aromatic qualities.


Brown Matcha or Hojicha Powder Color


When it comes to matcha green tea, the lowest quality is often associated with a color that leans towards brown, indicating its inferiority.>

It's important to note that even if you're purchasing inexpensive matcha specifically for lattes, it is advisable to avoid using matcha with a brownish hue.

The presence of such a color suggests that the matcha is of extremely low quality or has potentially gone bad.

This could mean that the matcha lacks the vibrant green color and essential flavor compounds that are characteristic of higher quality matcha varieties.

Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize obtaining matcha of better quality to ensure a more enjoyable and authentic tea-drinking experience.




How to Differentiate Good From Bad Matcha with the Matcha Colors Video


How the matcha green color is produced

The  matcha green color  comes from the chlorophyll and theanine in the plant. Just like other plants, the tea plant produces chlorophyll to facilitate photosynthesis.

When you shade the tea plant, it is forced to produce more chlorophyll to compensate for the lack of sunlight. 

Matcha colors  are particularly green because the plants used for high quality matcha have to be shaded for 3 weeks prior to the harvest.

During this long shading process, the tea plant is really pushed to its limits and it maximizes the chlorophyll, yielding this dark jade green color.


Why does the difference in matcha colors matter?

While  matcha colors  don’t have a direct impact on the flavor, they tend to tell a piece of a larger story.

Higher quality matcha powder  tends to have a richer green color because it comes from long shaded tea plants and it is made from the younger sprouts of the tea plant.

These sprouts are the sweetest in flavor and they give the matcha a smoother and rounder taste profile.

After the leaves are harvested, they also have their stems and veins removed. This actually improves the  matcha green tea color  even further.

When you look at a tea leaf, or most leaves for that matter, you will notice that the leaf itself is a dark green color, but the stem tends to be a bit more yellow.

If you were to grind the leaf up into a powder, without removing the stems, it would take on a more yellowish color.

For this reason, while  matcha colors  aren’t a perfect indicator of matcha quality, they can tell you a lot about how the matcha is produced.


High Quality Matcha vs. Low Quality Matcha

In the tea world, there is perhaps no greater difference between high quality tea and low quality than with matcha.

High quality matcha is a thick, rich and flavorful green liquid and low quality matcha is a bitter, coarse and brown liquid.

Not only are the  matcha colors  completely different, but the flavors are different as well. Here we will briefly discuss the two different matcha teas.

High Quality Matcha

Ceremonial grade matcha is meticulously made from first-harvest sprouts, maximizing nutrients and green color.

The tea plant absorbs winter nutrients, yielding flavorful sprouts with higher caffeine content. Shading increases chlorophyll, theanine, and caffeine.

Stems are removed, improving nutrient profile and color. Grinding in a large granite mill produces the finest powder.

As you can see, the matcha green tea color doesn’t affect the taste, but the production of the matcha tea affects both the color and the flavor so as a result, you can often asses quality just by looking at the matcha green tea color.

Low quality matcha

This is also referred to as culinary grade matcha, as it is meant to be added to matcha desserts and other culinary creations like lattes.

During the production of this matcha, certain steps are skipped, so the end product is not as good. The color is also more yellow or even brown.

Not all of this matcha is bad. We have found a later harvest matcha from Mr. Masuda that works great in lattes which we call the latte grade matcha. When you add  matcha powder  with oatmilk and sugar to make a latte, it doesn’t need to taste super smooth. In fact, you actually want the tea to have some strength to it so you can taste it through the latte.

Latte grade matcha

That’s why the  latte grade matcha  works great here, and it is a good way to save money. This tea is also produced without the use of pesticides or chemicals, which is very important particularly with powdered tea as you are consuming the entire leaf. This latte grade matcha will have a more yellow matcha green tea color as the chlorophyll content is lower, although it still works great in a matcha latte!


Is a light matcha green color a good thing?

There are variations in the  matcha green tea color  within high quality matcha. For the most part, they should have a darker jade green color, but occasionally you will find some high quality matchas that taste great but have a lighter color to them.

This could have to do with the cultivar, or tea plant variety. A cultivar like Yabukita, which is the most common cultivar for Japanese green tea, takes on a lighter green color, but this does not mean that it is lower quality.

While these matcha teas tend to be cheaper, a lot of tea drinkers appreciate their lighter, more citrusy taste profile.

So if you see a  light green matcha  and its from the Yabukita cultivar, it may not be low quality, it may just be an attempt to capture a different taste profile.


Do matcha colors change?

The  Matcha green tea color  will change from green, to yellow, to brown as it is exposed to light, heat and humidity.

The flavor of even a high quality matcha will begin to approach that of a low quality matcha if it is left out, which is why matcha storage is so important. Make sure you keep it in a cool, dry place in an airtight tin that doesn’t let any light through.

A lot of the tins these matcha teas come in have a bag inside. This acts as a double seal, which protects the flavor and color of the matcha powder. We recommend sealing up the bag, putting it back in the tin and then closing up the tin so it’s airtight.


Is it possible for companies to color matcha?

During our travels around Japan, we have met with a couple of farmers who have told us that some tea companies use a certain type of tea plant to color matcha and manipulate the matcha green tea color.

We make sure to ask about the ingredients in all the matchas we sell to make sure that this trick is not being used.


Do we Color the Green of Matcha?

As we have discussed elsewhere in this article, making the color better does not make the matcha better, but making the matcha better often makes the  matcha green tea color  better.

That being said, we like to honor the hard work of the farmers by not taking short cuts and having the  matcha green tea color  be an accurate reflection of the matcha tea.


Is there such thing as blue matcha?

There has been some images of  blue matcha  floating around the internet, but this title is a bit misleading.

This is not actually matcha and its not even a type of tea technically. It’s made from ground up flowers from the butterfly pea plant.

Because these flowers don’t come from the camelia sinensis plant, they can’t be considered a true tea. Nevertheless, they are still used for their coloring in different herbal infusions and drinks.

They don’t have much taste to them, but they do have a lot of color. So in conclusion, no there really is no such thing as  blue matcha , but you may find products online claiming to be  blue matcha.


Do we recommend Blue Matcha?

If you are really curious about trying  blue matcha , you can try it out for yourself but you may be disappointed. Not only is it nothing like real matcha, it doesn’t have much flavor to it at all.

As an herbal infusion, it doesn’t have much value other than the intense blue color that it produces. That being said, if you need to use  blue matcha  to create a blue drink or a blue smoothie, it may be a good option strictly as a coloring agent.


Which Matcha Green Tea Color is the best?

These are the matchas we have, in no particular order that have the best green colors:

Masudaen Superior Matcha

This is a  premium matcha   from Mr. Masuda in Shizuoka. What sets this matcha apart from others is its very vibrant yet dark green color. This matcha powder is not just for looks however, it produces a beautiful smooth, yet sweet matcha with a great foam on top.

Sakamoto Sae Matcha

We were so happy to learn that our favorite Gyokuro farmer also produces matcha! Mr. Sakamoto recently started producing matcha with his very own granite mills and the results have already been spectacular. The  Sakamoto Sae matcha  has a beautiful matcha green tea color to it and a light a sweet taste. This is typical for premium matcha teas made with the Saemidori cultivar.

Nakai Superior Matcha

This  premium Okumidori matcha  is one step above our already popular matcha washimine. This super green matcha powder is produced by Mr. Nakai outside of Kyoto. His family has a great history in the Organic Japanese tea industry, and his father is one of the ones credited with designing the “JAS” logo that appears on the packs of organic green tea.


Matcha green color FAQ

How to Make a perfect Matcha Green Tea color in 4 Steps

Are you interested in prepare the best home made matcha or want to become a Japanese Tea master? We wrote a detailed article about how to make the best matcha in four 4 steps. In this article we’re going to walk you through how to prepare the best bowl of  matcha tea  at home.

What are the best matcha to try out?

After traveling around Japan over the course of many years, we have tasted all sorts of  matcha teas  in different tea growing regions, to come up with a list of the very best. If you're curious about what matcha are best to try out, we made a complete video and article about the Top 21 best matcha powder of 2022
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