Why is Matcha so Expensive

Why is Matcha so Expensive

If you've ever ventured into the world of matcha, you've likely noticed that it can be expensive. Matcha isn't your everyday tea; it's often considered a luxury in the world of green beverages. Have you ever wondered why matcha is so expensive? In this exploration, we'll uncover the secrets behind the price tag, delving into the unique process, harvesting methods, grading, and the factors that make some matcha more expensive than others.

Matcha's Unique Process

Matcha's journey from leaf to cup is what sets it apart from other types of tea. Instead of steeping tea leaves in hot water and discarding them, matcha powder is ground from pure green tea leaves. This unique process begins with the cultivation of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis.

Harvesting by Hand

The process of making matcha starts with a careful selection of tea leaves. Matcha is traditionally hand-picked, whereas most teas can be harvested mechanically. The labor-intensive method ensures that only the youngest, tenderest leaves are selected. These leaves contain the highest concentration of flavor and nutrients.

Harvesting by hand is more time-consuming and requires skilled labor, making it a significant factor in the overall cost of matcha. This hands-on approach reflects the dedication of matcha producers to preserving its quality.

Steaming, De-stemming, and Grading

Once the leaves are plucked, they undergo a series of meticulous steps. To maintain their vibrant green color and fresh flavor, they are immediately steamed to prevent oxidation. This process sets matcha apart from other green teas, which are typically pan-fried or roasted.

The next step involves removing the stems and veins from the leaves, leaving only the leafy material. This de-stemming process is crucial because it eliminates bitterness and allows for a smoother, more refined taste. Only the best leaves pass this grade.

Grinding Into Powder

The heart of matcha production lies in the grinding process. The leaves are dried and ground into a fine powder after de-stemming. The traditional method of grinding was using stone mills, which were labor-intensive and slow. While some matcha is still ground using traditional methods, others use modern machinery.


The method of grinding has an impact on the price of matcha. Because of the time and craftsmanship involved, stone-ground matcha is often more expensive. It results in a smoother, creamier, and more flavorful tea.

Availability & Demand

As the popularity of matcha has grown worldwide, so has the demand for high-quality matcha. But the supply is limited. Japan is the primary producer of matcha, and the cultivation of matcha leaves requires specific conditions. This limited geographical availability further drives up the cost of production.

To make matters more complex, matcha has gained attention not only as a beverage but also as an ingredient in various culinary applications. The demand from both the tea and culinary industries has surged, putting further pressure on the supply of quality matcha.

Cheap Vs. Expensive

Understanding the factors that make matcha more expensive helps explain why there can be such a vast price range in the market. Cheap matcha is often made from older, lower-quality leaves that are machine-harvested and machine-ground. This results in a bitter, astringent taste and a dull green color. While it may technically be matcha, it lacks the refined qualities that make this green tea so prized.

On the other end of the spectrum, super expensive matcha is made from the finest, shade-grown leaves, harvested by hand, and stone-ground. A favorite of matcha lovers, this type of matcha is vibrant green in color and has an umami flavor. It's often reserved for traditional tea ceremonies and connoisseurs.

What are the Grades of Matcha?

Matcha comes in various grades, and this gradation significantly impacts its cost. 

The most commonly known grades include:

Ceremonial Grade: This is the highest-quality matcha, suitable for traditional tea ceremonies. There is a bright green color, a sweet umami flavor, and a smooth texture to it. Matcha made from hand-picked and stone-ground young leaves is ceremonial grade matcha. Matcha of this type is, without a doubt, the most expensive.

Premium Grade: Slightly more affordable than ceremonial grade, premium matcha is still of high quality. It is ideal for everyday consumption and cooking. While it may not have the same vibrant color as a ceremonial grade, it offers a delightful balance of flavor and cost-effectiveness.

Culinary Grade: The most budget-friendly option, culinary matcha is suitable for baking, cooking, and making lattes. There are many dishes that use it as an ingredient because of its robust flavor. Culinary matcha is machine-harvested and machine-ground, making it the least expensive of all matcha grades.

How Much Does Matcha Cost?

Now, let's get down to numbers. Matcha's price can vary significantly depending on the grade and quality. 

Here's a rough estimate of what you might expect to pay for each type:

Ceremonial Grade: A small tin (30 grams) of high-quality ceremonial matcha can cost anywhere from $30 to $50 or more. Prices can go much higher for premium ceremonial matcha.

Premium Grade: Premium matcha is a bit more budget-friendly, with prices ranging from $20 to $40 for a 30-gram tin. Again, the actual cost may vary depending on the brand and quality.

Culinary Grade: Culinary matcha is the most affordable option, typically costing between $10 and $20 for a 100-gram bag. This larger quantity makes it ideal for cooking and baking.

It's important to note that these prices are approximate and can vary based on factors like brand, origin, and quality. If you're looking for high-quality matcha, it's worth investing in a reputable brand and checking for certifications that confirm the authenticity and purity of the product.

Why Is Matcha so Expensive?

In summary, matcha is expensive for several compelling reasons:

Hand-Harvesting: The labor-intensive process of hand-picking the youngest tea leaves ensures quality but also increases production costs.

Steaming and De-stemming: Special care is taken to preserve the leaves' vibrant color and taste through immediate steaming and careful de-stemming.

Grinding: Traditional stone-grinding and modern machinery both impact the final price of matcha, with traditional methods being more time-consuming.

Limited Geographic Availability: Matcha is primarily produced in Japan, and its cultivation requires specific conditions, limiting its geographical availability.

High Demand: The global popularity of matcha, both as a beverage and an ingredient, has increased the demand for quality matcha, further impacting its price.

Grades: The various grades of matcha offer different qualities and experiences, with ceremonial grade matcha being the most expensive and culinary grade the most affordable.

While matcha can be expensive, it's worth considering what you value most in your tea. You can buy a matcha from the most reputed brand, Leigh Leaf. If you're a connoisseur or seek an authentic ceremonial experience, investing in high-quality matcha is a rewarding choice.

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