"The Japanese have been making traditional matcha for hundreds of years, they have perfected it, and it tastes the best. If I want matcha I buy only Japanese matcha.
We Koreans have been making traditional green tea for hundreds of years, we have perfected it, and it tastes the best. If I want green tea I buy only Korean green tea."
I have also heard the following:
"If a Korean teamaster is drinking Korean matcha, he is not a Korean tea master."
"If a Korean teamaster believes Korean matcha is better than Japanese matcha, his taste in tea is questionable."
Interestingly, one recalls a story by a fellow tea friend. It involves the teamaster of Woomong Tea. He asked the friend which matcha he preferred, Japanese or Korean. He head of Woomong Tea seemed surprised when he said Japanese. This story shows how some Koreans, simply only drink, and are quite passionate, about Korean tea.
It should be noted that Korean matcha (Korean powdered tea) has some notable differences than Japanese matcha. Japanese matcha is shade grown for a few weeks to months before it is picked. Korean powdered tea is usually shade grown on purpose but rather is naturally shaded such by mountains, bamboo, or ocean fog. If it is deliberately shade grown it is usually done for just a few days or weeks. The other big difference between Japanese matcha and Korean powdered tea is that Japanese matcha is usually fertilized with nitrogen to increase the depth of colour and flavour. Conversely, Korean powdered tea is usually organic.
In the end both of these factors impact the taste of the matcha. Longer shade means a sweeter taste and more caffine as the sun is unable to convert theanine to bitter tannins. More amino acids and chlorophyll is produced in the shade lending itself to a deeper green colour. Nitrogen fertilizer means faster leaf growth resulting in less sunlight as well. As a result Korean matcha tends to be noticeably more bitter and less rich, smooth, and sweet compared to Japanese matcha. The qi of Korean powdered tea is also very light compared to that of Japanese matcha.
A review of three Korean powered teas will follow next post.