So Much Matcha: The Many Ways to Enjoy Matcha

Japanese matcha powder

One of the most recognised flavours of Japan, matcha (抹茶) is a finely ground powder made with young tea leaves, characterised by its vibrant green colour that come from its high chlorophyll content. Rich in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, Japanese matcha is beloved not just for its unique and aromatic taste―creamy and savoury with hints of nuttiness and a slightly bitter undertone―but also for its health benefits.

Widely available around Japan, matcha-flavoured drinks, desserts, and confectionery can be found almost everywhere, so let’s explore all things matcha!

 

How is Matcha Made?

Japanese matcha tea powderMatcha powder. | Photo by photoAC

Matcha is made from the leaves of the tea plant, camellia sinensis. Depending on the grade of matcha, tea leaves are shade-grown―shielded from direct sunlight―for about 2–6 weeks before being harvested, which reduces photosynthesis and increases chlorophyll content, which gives matcha its bright green colour. The tea leaves are steamed, cooled, dried, de-veined, and de-stemmed, before being ground by a stone mill into a vibrant green powder.

While regular tea requires steeping tea leaves in hot water to bring out the tea flavour and then drinking the liquid while setting aside the tea leaves, with matcha you actually consume the entire ground tea leaves, which are packed with nutrients and anti-oxidants. 

 

Uji Matcha, The Pinnacle of Matcha 

A tea field in Uji KyotoTea field in Uji. | Photo by photoAC

If you’re a fan of Japanese matcha, then you’ve probably heard of Uji (宇治). Located in the southeast of Kyoto (京都), Uji is considered to produce the highest grade of matcha in Japan: Uji matcha (宇治抹茶). While Japan has many tea-producing regions, not all of them produce matcha. Aside from Uji, another area that specialises in producing matcha is Nishio (西尾) in Aichi Prefecture (愛知県).

 

6 Ways to Enjoy Matcha

While you can just buy matcha powder, mix it with water or milk and drink it, there are many other ways to savour its rich flavour and appreciate its taste. Here are six ways to enjoy matcha, simply because we love it so much-a!

 

1. Experience Japanese Hospitality with A Tea Ceremony

A Japanese tea ceremony involves matchaTea ceremony is a unique experience to try in Japan. | Photo by photoAC

Uji is the birthplace of tea ceremony or sado (茶道), so it makes sense that the region produces high quality matcha. Using ceremonial grade matcha, there’s no better way to appreciate matcha than by taking part in a tea ceremony, a quintessential Japanese experience.

Tea ceremony is an art form which sees the tea master performing a series of precise actions in a strict order to show hospitality (おもてなし omotenashi). Usually held in a room with a tatami floor and overlooking a garden, the tea master serves you freshly whisked matcha, accompanied by a traditional Japanese confectionery (和菓子 wagashi).

 

2. The Ultimate Matcha Ice Cream Experience of Different Intensities

Matcha green tea ice cream of different intensitiesMatcha ice cream in different intensities, with a side of hojicha ice cream. | Photo by Carissa Loh

How much matcha can you handle? Some people prefer a sweet matcha flavour that has been mixed with milk, while others prefer an intense and concentrated flavour.

In Japan, there are certain ice cream shops like Nana’s Green Tea and Suzuki-en that serve matcha ice cream or matcha soft serve in varying levels of intensity. The darker the green, the more concentrated the matcha flavour. Try them all to see the difference!

 

3. I Love You So Matcha: Matcha-Flavoured Desserts and Confectionery

Matcha green tea dessertsMatcha desserts anyone? | Photo by photoAC

If you love matcha, you cannot miss out on trying all the delectable desserts that have been flavoured with matcha. From matcha parfaits to matcha pancakes to matcha tiramisu, the possibilities are endless. Other than the one-of-a-kind matcha flavour, their vivid green appearances make them almost too pretty to be eaten.

 

A matcha twist to Western dessertsA matcha twist to Western desserts. | Photo by photoAC

Many Western pastries and confections, which traditionally did not come in matcha flavours in their countries of origin, can now be found in matcha-flavoured versions in Japan.

From Swiss rolls to eclairs to choux cream puffs to cheesecakes, the matcha flavour has revolutionised the pastry industry, leading to the birth of many delightful fusion creations.

 

Matcha flavour Traditional Japanese dessertsMatcha flavours on traditional Japanese desserts. | Photo by photoAC

Aside from Western desserts, matcha is also used as a flavouring for Japanese desserts and confectionery, such as added to a paste to coat on dango (団子 rice balls), as a syrup to flavour kakigori (かき氷 shaved ice), or as a flavour for jellies and yōkan (羊羹).

 

Matcha flavoured Japanese snacksMore matcha goodies. | Photo by photoAC

Not just limited to desserts, matcha can also be used to flavour everyday baked goods and sweets like breads, cookies, pound cakes, chocolates, muffins, and more. All you need to do is add some matcha powder into the batter, and you can create as much matcha baked goods as your heart desires.

 

4. Spread the Love: Matcha-Flavoured Snacks and Omiyage

Japanese snacks like KitKat comes in many flavours including matcha green teaGet your friends some matcha-flavoured KitKat and snacks. | Photo by marcocarag (CC BY 2.0)

Want to spread the matcha love? Aside from buying back actual matcha powder, treat your friends and family back home to unique matcha-flavoured omiyage (お土産) after a trip to Japan. From matcha-flavoured KitKat to matcha-flavoured Pocky and matcha-flavoured Meiji chocolate, nothing says “souvenir from Japan” as prominently as a matcha-flavoured snack. 

 

Matcha delights from Japanese convenience storesSome of the best matcha snacks in Japan can be found at your nearest convenience store! | Photo by Carissa Loh

You don’t have to travel far to get your hands on Japanese matcha snacks. Convenience stores (コンビニ konbini) are always creating seasonal snacks and if you’re lucky, you might stumble across some merry matcha-flavoured creations. From bouncy matcha mochi to creamy matcha tiramisu to matcha dorayaki to decadent matcha chocolate terrines, check out your nearest convenience store for their seasonal matcha offerings!

 

5. Café Hopping for Matcha Drinks

Matcha Latte
A hot cuppa matcha latte. | Photo by Adobe Stock

After a long day of sightseeing and exploring, why not take a break and go café hopping for matcha drinks? Coffee can be found all around the world, but what better place to down a matcha-flavoured beverage than in Japan? 

 

Matcha latte
Hot or iced? | Photo by photoAC

Many cafés offer a variety of matcha-flavoured beverages, which range from ordinary matcha tea, to hot or iced matcha lattes, to matcha frappuccinos, bubble tea, and more. Take a break and enjoy the matcha-flavours in a brand new beverage!

 

6. Be Merry with Matcha-Infused Alcoholic Drinks

Matcha-infused beerKanpai! Say cheers with matcha-infused beer. | Photo by photoAC

Love a cup of matcha but fancy yourself a pint? While the traditional image of a bowl of matcha may not go hand in hand with beer, the two make an unlikely pairing.

Matcha-infused beers and cocktails are gaining popularity, offering a unique blend of flavours ranging from bitter to tart. 

 

Matcha cocktailsMatcha cocktails. | Photo by photoAC

Large and craft breweries alike, as well as some of Japan's most famous bars, are creating refreshing drinks such as matcha lagers, IPAs, and cocktails. With each sip, you can experience the rich, earthy notes of matcha combined with the crispness of beer or the smoothness of spirits.

 

Discover the World of Matcha with JAPAN RAIL CLUB

So Much Matcha Snack Box by JAPAN RAIL CLUB


As a cherished symbol of Japanese tea culture, matcha has captivated the palates of a worldwide audience and there are many ways to savour this uniquely-Japan product. Why not satisfy your matcha cravings with JAPAN RAIL CLUB’s latest Omiyage Snack Box offering exclusively this May 2024?

Entitled “So Much Matcha”, it offers a glimpse into the exciting world of Japanese matcha with a tempting selection of snacks made with matcha from Uji and Nishio, as well as gyokuro (a premium grade of green tea) from Kyotanabe! 

Plus, if you subscribe by 31 May 2024 and use promo code MAYCHA15 at checkout, you can enjoy a 15% discount and save up to $80 when you opt for the 12-month plan. Before you embark on your matcha pilgrimage to Japan, relax and enjoy our matcha-licious snacks in the comfort of your own home.

Meet the author

Carissa Loh

Having visited all 47 prefectures of Japan, Carissa's next goal in life is to ride all of Japan's sightseeing trains and climb all its 100 Famous Mountains. Sounds like a dream? Check back in 50 years.

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Seijin no Hi: Exploring Japan’s Coming-of-Age Day

Seijin-no-Hi (成人の日) or Coming-of-Age Day is an important Japanese National Holiday, observed on the second Monday of January each year. The day serves as a rite of passage, celebrating and...

Carissa Loh Culture

Seijin no Hi: Exploring Japan’s Coming-of-Age Day

Seijin-no-Hi (成人の日) or Coming-of-Age Day is an important Japanese National Holiday, observed on the second...

January Maker’s Story: Chocolates with a Japanese Twist from Edogoshiya
Sue Lynn

January Maker’s Story: Chocolates with a Japane...

"What is a snack that would pair well with Japanese tea and is well-loved by all in Japan?", the makers of Edogoshiya wondered and found themselves in the world of...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

January Maker’s Story: Chocolates with a Japane...

"What is a snack that would pair well with Japanese tea and is well-loved by...

The Wonders of Citrus: 5 Varieties of Citruses Found in Japan
Sue Lynn

The Wonders of Citrus: 5 Varieties of Citruses ...

If you have been to Japan during the colder months between December to February, you will notice the sudden abundance in citruses such as yuzu (柚子・ゆず) and mikan (蜜柑・みかん mandarin...

Sue Lynn Food

The Wonders of Citrus: 5 Varieties of Citruses ...

If you have been to Japan during the colder months between December to February, you...

Ake Ome! Exploring the New Year Celebrations in Japan
Sue Lynn

Ake Ome! Exploring the New Year Celebrations in...

How is the New Year celebrated in Japan?  Let’s take a look at some of the traditions that have been influenced by Shinto, Buddhism, and modern beliefs!

Carissa Loh Culture

Ake Ome! Exploring the New Year Celebrations in...

How is the New Year celebrated in Japan?  Let’s take a look at some of...

Merikuri! Christmas in Japan: Exploring Traditions Old and New
Sue Lynn

Merikuri! Christmas in Japan: Exploring Traditi...

Said to be the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas is a holiday celebrated around the world, known as a time to get together with family and friends, and a...

Carissa Loh Festival

Merikuri! Christmas in Japan: Exploring Traditi...

Said to be the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas is a holiday celebrated around...

5 Must-Visit Ski Resorts To Visit Outside of Hokkaido: Exploring Japan's Best Slopes
Sue Lynn

5 Must-Visit Ski Resorts To Visit Outside of Ho...

Have you ever gone skiing or snowboarding in Japan? In Japan, although skiing as a means of transportation had been around for centuries in communities living in high snowfall areas,...

Carissa Loh Winter

5 Must-Visit Ski Resorts To Visit Outside of Ho...

Have you ever gone skiing or snowboarding in Japan? In Japan, although skiing as a...

December Maker's Story: Arida Mikan from Sowa Kajuen
Sue Lynn

December Maker's Story: Arida Mikan from Sowa K...

December is the month of citrus, including mikan or mandarin oranges from Arida! We caught up with Mr. Ueyama (上山) from Sowa Kajuen from Arida City, Wakayama Prefecture to find...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

December Maker's Story: Arida Mikan from Sowa K...

December is the month of citrus, including mikan or mandarin oranges from Arida! We caught...

December Maker’s Story: Yuzu from Umaji Village in Kochi
Sue Lynn

December Maker’s Story: Yuzu from Umaji Village...

Umaji Village is known as the Village of Yuzu! We had a chat with Mr. Iwasada (岩貞) of Umaji Village Agricultural Co-operative, to find out more about the village of...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

December Maker’s Story: Yuzu from Umaji Village...

Umaji Village is known as the Village of Yuzu! We had a chat with Mr....

The Star of Japanese Vineyards: Understanding the Appeal of Kyoho Grapes
Sue Lynn

The Star of Japanese Vineyards: Understanding t...

Where do Kyoho Grapes originate from? Japan's love for perfection and uniqueness has led to some incredible creations, and their grapes are no exception. Enter Kyoho grapes (巨峰), star-studded grapes...

Snack Lover Autumn

The Star of Japanese Vineyards: Understanding t...

Where do Kyoho Grapes originate from? Japan's love for perfection and uniqueness has led to...