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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賞花的樂趣之一,就是它們轉瞬即逝的特性:花期每季只有幾天,但那短暫幾天卻難忘極了。來看看六種春天當季花卉,以及賞花最佳時機!

Carissa Loh Nature

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉

賞花的樂趣之一,就是它們轉瞬即逝的特性:花期每季只有幾天,但那短暫幾天卻難忘極了。來看看六種春天當季花卉,以及賞花最佳時機!

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Than Sakura
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Tha...

Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with spring than the beloved cherry blossom (桜 sakura). However, other than these pretty, pink blossoms,...

Carissa Loh Nature

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Tha...

Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with...

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in April and May
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in A...

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are flowers symbolic of spring, often alluded to the promise of a new beginning in many Japanese literature. | Photo by Dawn Sim   A symbol...

Dawn Sim Spring

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in A...

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are flowers symbolic of spring, often alluded to the promise of...

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in Japan
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in J...

Spring in Japan is a time for celebration as the season marks new beginnings. Other than the mesmerising cherry blossoms painting the landscape, spring is the best season to experience...

Wendy Ng Food

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in J...

Spring in Japan is a time for celebration as the season marks new beginnings. Other...

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festivals in Japan
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festival...

Photo by cyesuta (CC BY-SA 2.0)   Spring is a season of new beginnings, bringing with it beautiful flowers, comfortable temperatures, and a time of celebration. While most travellers head...

Carissa Loh Festival

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festival...

Photo by cyesuta (CC BY-SA 2.0)   Spring is a season of new beginnings, bringing...

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in Japan
Sue Lynn

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in ...

Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟 Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich history and enduring cultural heritage, is particularly famous for its magnificent Japanese castles (お城 oshiro)....

Carissa Loh Culture

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in ...

Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟 Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich...

Sakura Karinto and Marui Suzuki
Sue Lynn

Maker’s Story: Seasonal Karinto Snacks from Tok...

April marks the official arrival of spring in Japan, and one of the cherished traditions of celebrating this season is to enjoy “ohanami” (お花見)! Ohanami means “flower-viewing”, and this is...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

Maker’s Story: Seasonal Karinto Snacks from Tok...

April marks the official arrival of spring in Japan, and one of the cherished traditions...

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Northeast Japan
Sue Lynn

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blosso...

Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the start of springtime in Japan. Spring is the prettiest and most enjoyable season with radiant...

Wendy Ng Spring

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blosso...

Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the...

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of Shochu Distilleries in Miyazaki
Sue Lynn

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of S...

Shochu (焼酎) is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Japan and the Japanese drink more shochu than sake. Considered to be Japan's national spirit, Shochu is gaining great...

Wendy Ng

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of S...

Shochu (焼酎) is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Japan and the Japanese...

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultural Icons
Sue Lynn

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultura...

Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC Steeped in tradition, Tohoku (東北), the northeastern part of Japan comprising of six prefectures – Aomori (青森), Akita...

Dawn Sim Culture

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultura...

Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC Steeped in tradition,...

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from Northeast Japan
Sue Lynn

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from North...

Japan is a food paradise and beyond the major cities and well-trodden travel routes, you can unearth more culinary treasures spread throughout the country if you venture into the less...

Wendy Ng Food

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from North...

Japan is a food paradise and beyond the major cities and well-trodden travel routes, you...

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots in Tokyo for Ohanami
Sue Lynn

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots ...

If you have visited Tokyo between late March and early April, then chances are you have witnessed the enchanting sight of cherry blossoms (桜 sakura) in full bloom. A cherry...

Carissa Loh Culture

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots ...

If you have visited Tokyo between late March and early April, then chances are you...

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from Tohoku
Sue Lynn

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from ...

Located on the north-eastern part of mainland Japan, Tohoku (東北) is made up of six prefectures, and is a treasure trove of beautiful nature and fascinating history. It’s a wonderful...

Carissa Loh Food

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from ...

Located on the north-eastern part of mainland Japan, Tohoku (東北) is made up of six...

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souvenir & Gift-Giving Culture
Sue Lynn

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souven...

Have you heard of omiyage (お土産)? If you’ve been to Japan, then you have probably seen the colourful and beautifully packaged boxes of local confectionery filling the gift shops along...

Carissa Loh Culture

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souven...

Have you heard of omiyage (お土産)? If you’ve been to Japan, then you have probably...

March Maker's Story: Hand-grilled Rice Crackers from Akita by Kanaeya
Sue Lynn

March Maker's Story: Hand-grilled Rice Crackers...

The Tohoku Region is home to some of Japan’s best untouched nature. Take Akita as an example, a prefecture where lush landscapes meet premium rice fields. Renowned for its exceptional...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

March Maker's Story: Hand-grilled Rice Crackers...

The Tohoku Region is home to some of Japan’s best untouched nature. Take Akita as...

March Maker’s Story: Obuse Chestnut Snacks from Takachiho (Winner of JR East Omiyage Grand Prix 2023 - Koshin’etsu Area Prize)
Sue Lynn

March Maker’s Story: Obuse Chestnut Snacks from...

If you have been to Japan, you will understand the universal struggle of finding the perfect souvenir or omiyage (お土産) to bring home for your loved ones and colleagues. While...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

March Maker’s Story: Obuse Chestnut Snacks from...

If you have been to Japan, you will understand the universal struggle of finding the...

Hina Matsuri (3 March): Japan’s Spring Festival Celebrating Girls’ Day
Sue Lynn

Hina Matsuri (3 March): Japan’s Spring Festival...

Displaying exquisitely made hina-ningyo dressed in traditional Heian attire is the main activity associated with the Hina Matsuri | ©photoAC Have you ever heard of Japan’s Hina Matsuri (雛祭)? Otherwise known...

Dawn Sim Culture

Hina Matsuri (3 March): Japan’s Spring Festival...

Displaying exquisitely made hina-ningyo dressed in traditional Heian attire is the main activity associated with the...

Inspired by Izu: Exploring Izu Peninsula Through The Eyes of Japanese Writers
Sue Lynn

Inspired by Izu: Exploring Izu Peninsula Throug...

If you are a fan of Japanese literature, take a walk in the footsteps of literary giants and look no further than Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島), which lies just about 1-2...

Dawn Sim Travel

Inspired by Izu: Exploring Izu Peninsula Throug...

If you are a fan of Japanese literature, take a walk in the footsteps of...

Mount Fuji with tea plantation in the foreground
Sue Lynn

Mount Fuji Day (23 February): 5 Ways to Enjoy J...

Standing at 3,776m above sea level, the almost perfectly symmetrical Mount Fuji (富士山 Fujisan) is Japan’s highest mountain, and has become a symbol of the country, recognised worldwide for its...

Carissa Loh Travel

Mount Fuji Day (23 February): 5 Ways to Enjoy J...

Standing at 3,776m above sea level, the almost perfectly symmetrical Mount Fuji (富士山 Fujisan) is...

Happy Cat Day (22 February): 5 Cat Islands in Japan to Meet Feline Friends
Sue Lynn

Happy Cat Day (22 February): 5 Cat Islands in J...

Are you a cat (猫 neko) lover? If you’ve been to Japan, you might have noticed how beloved cats are over there. Think maneki-neko (招き猫) cat figurines that beckon luck,...

Carissa Loh Culture

Happy Cat Day (22 February): 5 Cat Islands in J...

Are you a cat (猫 neko) lover? If you’ve been to Japan, you might have...

In the Mood for Love: Romancing on Valentine’s Day in Japan
Sue Lynn

In the Mood for Love: Romancing on Valentine’s ...

Love is in the air in February with Valentine’s Day! On 14 February, Valentine’s Day is universally celebrated across the globe where presents like chocolates, candies, and flowers are gifted...

Wendy Ng Culture

In the Mood for Love: Romancing on Valentine’s ...

Love is in the air in February with Valentine’s Day! On 14 February, Valentine’s Day...

Romance Izu in the Air: 5 Romantic Spots in the Izu Peninsula
Sue Lynn

Romance Izu in the Air: 5 Romantic Spots in the...

With so many captivating attractions, you can spend days exploring the Izu Peninsula with your loved one, but where to start? Here are our top five picks for romantic dating...

Carissa Loh Travel

Romance Izu in the Air: 5 Romantic Spots in the...

With so many captivating attractions, you can spend days exploring the Izu Peninsula with your...

A Side Trip to Saitama: Discovering “Little Edo”, Cafes, and the Railway Museum
Sue Lynn

A Side Trip to Saitama: Discovering “Little Edo...

Located just about half an hour north of Central Tokyo, Ōmiya Station (大宮駅 Ōmiya-eki) is the gateway to the neighbouring Saitama Prefecture (埼玉県). It is also a stop on more...

JAPANKURU Travel

A Side Trip to Saitama: Discovering “Little Edo...

Located just about half an hour north of Central Tokyo, Ōmiya Station (大宮駅 Ōmiya-eki) is...