Matcha: Organic vs. Conventional

Matcha tea leaves

Over the last decade, there has been an increasing demand for organic food products as consumers seek to cut down on the intake of chemicals in order to avoid any ill effects they may have. As more people make the switch to matcha green tea powder in order to enjoy the myriad health benefits, the concern over the growing process has increased as more stories come out of China and other tea-growing countries about the high use of pesticides and chemical fertilisers. Lets explore some of the differences between organic and non-organic matcha

Colour and Taste

When it comes to colour and taste in matcha, you want a vibrant, stunning green colour opposed to a dull green or yellow type of matcha powder and the taste should be earthy and rich with just a subtle hint of sweetness. With organic matcha, the colour tends to be less vibrant (though never dull or yellow) and the taste is a little less robust and sweet. The reason for this boils down to how it is grown.

As matcha tea leaves are shade-grown to produce the high levels of chlorophyll and amino acids that make matcha so healthy and uniquely flavoured, the tea leaves need to get their energy from another source other than the sun. Growers provide the plant with energy by using fertilisers. Chemical fertilisers have an almost instant effect in getting energy to the plant, but organic fertilisers take almost three months to reach their full effect. During these months, the matcha tea leaves aren't getting as much energy which results in changes to the the taste and colour.

Is Non-Organic Matcha Safe?

Japan is serious about their tea, and as such, enforces strict regulations upon growers. In fact, most tea farmers don't exclusively use chemical fertilisers throughout the entire growing process. The chemical fertilisers, due to their rapid action, are used to boost the plant during crucial growing moments while organic fertilisers are used in between.

But what about the pests?

Like with vegetables and fruits that have thin, absorbent skins, tea leaves sprayed with pesticides are not something you want to drink. However the Positive System of Agricultural Chemical in Japan strictly regulates what type of pesticides can be used, how much farmer's can use, and when they can be used. Farmers must record all use of pesticides and submit reports to authorities. As an extra buffer, the tea leaves are all tested for chemical residue before being put on the market and barred from sale if they are even a little bit over the safety standard.

For matcha maniacs that are comfortable with regular fertilisers being used, but still deeply against the use of pesticides on their tea leaves, there is some good news. One of the best matcha growing regions in Japan is Shimoyama, just outside Nishio City. This area is located 2,000 feet above sea level and features a naturally cooler climate than other matcha growing regions. The cooler climate not only makes it good for growing matcha, but it is a natural deterrent to pests who cannot stand the colder temperatures. This means there is less of a need for pesticides. 

Looking to learn more about both organic and conventional matcha? Contact us! We offer up both organic and non-organic matcha green tea powder, all produced in and around the Nishio and Shimoyama regions so you know even your non-organic matcha is well below the standard chemical use.

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