With matcha lattes and frappuccinos popping up on menus across the country, many coffee drinkers are wondering where their matcha comes from and what type Starbucks uses. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Starbucks uses both ceremonial and culinary grade matcha powder in their drinks.

This article will explore the difference between ceremonial and culinary matcha, examining how each type of matcha is grown, harvested, and processed. We’ll look at the characteristics of ceremonial and culinary grade matcha and analyze how the quality and flavor profile impact the matcha drinks on the Starbucks menu.

Ceremonial Grade vs. Culinary Grade Matcha

Definition of Ceremonial and Culinary Grade Matcha

When it comes to matcha, there are two main grades: ceremonial grade and culinary grade. Ceremonial grade matcha is the highest quality and is traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies. It is made from the youngest, most tender leaves of the tea plant, which are carefully shade-grown and hand-picked.

The leaves are then stone-ground into a fine powder, resulting in a vibrant green color and a smooth, mellow flavor.

Culinary grade matcha, on the other hand, is more commonly used in cooking and baking. While it is still made from high-quality tea leaves, it may also include leaves from older plants or those that have been exposed to more sunlight.

This grade of matcha is typically less expensive and has a slightly bitter taste.

How Ceremonial and Culinary Grade Matcha are Grown and Processed

The process of growing and processing ceremonial grade matcha is meticulous and time-consuming. The tea plants are shaded for several weeks before harvest to increase the chlorophyll content and enhance the flavor.

After being hand-picked, the leaves are steamed, dried, and deveined before being ground into a powder.

Culinary grade matcha, on the other hand, is grown and processed in a similar manner but may not undergo the same level of shading. The leaves are still harvested, steamed, and dried before being ground into a powder, but the resulting flavor and color may be slightly different.

Flavor, Color, and Texture Differences

The flavor, color, and texture of ceremonial grade and culinary grade matcha can vary significantly. Ceremonial grade matcha is known for its rich, umami flavor and vibrant green color. It has a smooth, creamy texture and a slightly sweet aftertaste.

Culinary grade matcha, on the other hand, may have a more pronounced bitterness and a slightly duller color. Its texture can also be slightly grainier.

It’s important to note that while Starbucks does not disclose the specific type of matcha they use, it is likely to be a culinary grade matcha. Culinary grade matcha is more commonly used in beverages and baked goods, making it a practical choice for a large-scale operation like Starbucks.

For more information on matcha grades, you can visit Teatulia or Aiya America.

What Type of Matcha Does Starbucks Use?

Starbucks, the popular coffee chain, has joined the matcha trend by incorporating matcha into their menu. Matcha is a finely ground powder made from specially grown and processed green tea leaves. It is known for its vibrant green color and unique flavor profile.

But what type of matcha does Starbucks use?

Starbucks Matcha Powder

Starbucks uses a proprietary matcha powder blend to create their matcha beverages. The exact details of the blend are kept secret, but it is made from high-quality matcha sourced from Japan. Starbucks takes great care in selecting matcha that meets their standards of flavor and quality.

The Starbucks matcha powder is made from shade-grown tea leaves that are carefully harvested and stone-ground to produce a fine powder. This process helps to retain the vibrant green color and rich flavor of the matcha.

Starbucks also ensures that their matcha powder is free from any additives or preservatives. This commitment to using pure matcha allows customers to enjoy an authentic matcha experience with every sip.

Matcha on the Starbucks Menu

Starbucks offers a variety of matcha beverages on their menu, ranging from traditional matcha lattes to unique seasonal creations. Their matcha beverages are made by combining the matcha powder with milk and sweetener, creating a creamy and flavorful drink.

One popular matcha beverage at Starbucks is the matcha green tea latte. This drink combines the earthy taste of matcha with the smoothness of steamed milk, creating a balanced and comforting beverage. The matcha green tea latte can be customized with different milk options and sweetener levels to suit individual preferences.

In addition to the matcha green tea latte, Starbucks also offers matcha in other forms, such as the matcha lemonade and matcha frappuccino. These beverages provide a refreshing twist on the traditional matcha flavor, perfect for those looking for a cool and energizing drink.

The Benefits of Matcha

Matcha is a type of powdered green tea that has gained popularity in recent years due to its numerous health benefits. Unlike traditional green tea, matcha is made by grinding the whole tea leaves into a fine powder, which is then whisked into hot water.

This unique preparation method allows you to consume the entire leaf, maximizing its nutritional value.


One of the key benefits of matcha is its high antioxidant content. Antioxidants are compounds that help protect the body against damage from harmful free radicals. Matcha is particularly rich in a type of antioxidant called catechins, which have been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.

In fact, matcha contains significantly higher levels of catechins compared to regular green tea.

According to a study published in the Journal of Chromatography A, matcha contains 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea. This makes it an excellent choice for boosting your immune system and protecting against chronic diseases.

Amino Acids

Matcha is also rich in amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. One particular amino acid found in abundance in matcha is L-theanine. L-theanine is known for its calming and relaxing effects, and it has been shown to increase alpha brain wave activity, promoting a state of alert relaxation.

Additionally, L-theanine has been found to enhance the production of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that play a crucial role in mood regulation. This may explain why matcha has been associated with improved focus, concentration, and a general sense of well-being.

Caffeine Content

While matcha does contain caffeine, its effects are different from those of coffee or other caffeinated beverages. Matcha contains a moderate amount of caffeine, roughly half the amount found in a cup of coffee.

However, it also contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which has a calming effect on the nervous system.

The combination of caffeine and L-theanine in matcha provides a sustained and focused energy boost without the jitters or crash often associated with coffee. This makes matcha a great choice for those looking for a natural and healthier alternative to coffee.

How to Make Matcha at Home

If you’re a fan of matcha and want to enjoy it from the comfort of your own home, you’re in luck! Making matcha at home is easier than you might think. With a few simple steps, you can create a delicious and refreshing matcha drink that rivals the ones you find at your local coffee shop. Here’s how:

Selecting High Quality Matcha

The first step in making matcha at home is selecting high quality matcha powder. Matcha quality can vary greatly, so it’s important to choose a reputable brand that sources their matcha from Japan, where matcha is traditionally grown.

Look for matcha that is vibrant green in color, as this indicates freshness. Additionally, check for organic certifications and read reviews from other customers to ensure you’re getting a high quality product.

Brewing Methods

Once you have your matcha powder, you’ll need to decide on a brewing method. The traditional way to make matcha is with a bamboo whisk and a bowl. Start by sifting the matcha powder to remove any clumps, then add hot water.

Use the whisk to vigorously whisk the matcha in a “W” or “M” motion until it becomes frothy. Alternatively, you can use a matcha shaker or a blender to achieve a similar result. Experiment with different methods to find the one that works best for you.

Matcha Drink Recipes

Now that you know how to make matcha, it’s time to get creative with your drink recipes. Matcha lattes are a popular choice, combining the earthy taste of matcha with creamy milk. You can also add flavors like vanilla or honey to enhance the taste.

Another option is to make a refreshing matcha iced tea by adding ice cubes and a splash of lemon or lime juice. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ingredients and flavors to create your own unique matcha creations.

For more information and tips on making matcha at home, you can visit The Spruce Eats, a trusted website that offers detailed guides and recipes for matcha enthusiasts.


While the matcha powders and prepared drinks from Starbucks offer consistency and convenience, true matcha aficionados will want to source and prepare ceremonial grade matcha at home. From traditional preparation methods to creative matcha recipes, making matcha yourself lets you control quality and customize your matcha experience.

With an understanding of the differences between ceremonial and culinary grade matcha, you can now select and prepare the type of green tea that best suits your tastes and needs.

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