Many of us have entrusted the USDA Organic symbol as steward to our health and wellness, and mostly for good reason.
The agricultural practices involved in organic certification protect us from potential exposures to harmful pesticides, environmental toxins, and are even suspected to result in more nutritious produce.
Organic standards also mean more overhead for quality assurance, but the results are thought to be worth the increase in price point. True for matcha? Let’s find out. In the following article, we outline the answers to all the most common questions asked about organic matcha.
EWG Green Tea
Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) helps the public better differentiate this cost/benefit by analyzing non-organic produce for residual pesticides and common toxins. They have also reviewed matcha green tea.
Should matcha be organic?
Unbeknownst to many, this report details some non-organic produce to be virtually free of these impurities, plenty safe and nutritious — just as their organic counterparts – does this hold true for matcha?
The EWG’s annual report is not always comprehensive to unconventional crops (like matcha green tea), but it does beg an important question of our grocery discretions, is it always worth paying for the added protections?
There’s no easy answer.
Best organic matcha isn't always best matcha Tea
Many will still err with complete caution by looking only for that trusty seal, but the fact remains that USDA Organic certification regulates much more than pesticides when it comes to organic matcha latte powder, and more.
These regulations broadly define many prohibited practices and additives, not limited to the use of antibiotics in livestock, or the application of most crop-fertilizers. 
Organic matcha powder – Is it authentic matcha tea?
In the latter, blanket standardization prohibits some, otherwise safe and traditional amendments. With most authentic Japanese matcha, these include high-quality natural fish meal and even pure nitrogen. These are safe fertilizers which make non-organic matcha safe just like organic green tea powder.
Organic matcha green tea pros and cons
These soil fertilizers which healthily date back long before any modern pesticides or synthetic contaminants. As only one example of many, we see how it’s possible that nutritious and uncontaminated produce may fall short of that trusty green pedestal. In fact, non-organic matcha is more nutritious than organic matcha.
This is especially true for Japanese producers (not just the tea fields), where a single choice in safe and effective soil fertilizer has the potential to make USDA Organic matcha tea a hard-to-come by commodity.
All the while, Japan’s bare-minimum cultivation guidelines rigorously out-perform many of even the most stringent required for U.S. organic approval. 
Where to get organic matcha green tea powder?
Organic matcha is a commodity, a tonic, and a form of routine nutrition. It also puts our organic diet discretions into question more than other foods. The best organic matcha tea comes is from Japan. Organic matcha powder is produced under the strictest agriculture practices than anywhere else in the world.
Is organic matcha tea healthier?
The purities of traditional and usda organic matcha tea are virtually indistinguishable. The recent demand for ‘the best organic matcha’ means there are increasing numbers of organic matcha farms, but it's still limited in supply.
Non-traditional fertilizers reduce annual tea yields, and struggle to produce true ceremonial grade matcha. In fact, most of the ceremonial organic matcha is not really as high quality as they say. Only two matcha tea farms are able to produce real ceremonial organic matcha powder.
Best ceremonial organic matcha green tea
Even sipping grade organic matcha tea comes at a greater price point, typically associated with a more premium grade of matcha. Arguably, the added cost is disproportionate to the matcha tea health benefits. There really isn't that big of a change.
Organic japanese matcha which follows tradition
What’s more, is that a millennium of traditional matcha has acquainted with only the brightest, emerald green, savory, and minimally bitter matcha tea for use in Japanese Tea Ceremony. Achieving these pleasant characteristics absolutely relies on traditional fertilizer, results that organic variations are beginning to achieve.
Is matcha tea powder grown with fertilizers?
Specifically before being hand-picking and being stone-ground into matcha green tea, the leaves rely on traditional fertilizers in maintaining growth under pre-harvest shade cloths.
The diminished sunlight during these 3 weeks encourages the growth of wider, thinner tea leaves which also feature a heightened amino acid and chlorophyll composition.
Important, this shading also reduces bitter catechins, tannins, and other polyphenols. (1)
With both organic and non-organic matcha each subject to intense shading, the abundant nutrition of traditional fertilizer provides non-organic matcha the power needed to achieve optimal tea characteristics.
Is organic matcha more nutritious?
As opposed to conventional practices, organic matcha instead struggles to develop comparable nutrition, antioxidant content, and much sought-after flavor. This isn’t to say traditional practices are unwilling to adapt to the times, though, and in fact some of the best organic matcha is now available. (2)
Ultimately, strides in agricultural technology and advanced fertilization means organic matcha tea is becoming more widely accessible, and with a quality approaching that of conventional, i.e. ceremonial matcha.
The choice is yours – organic matcha green tea powder
The 1,000 year lineage of harvesting strategies reserved exclusively for the best matcha is hard to compare to, but the best organic matcha is starting to get there.
In certain ways, Japan’s keen regulations have been thematically inspired from matcha’s cultural influence and an exceeding care for the environment tied with Zen Buddhism. So even non-organic matcha is safe and healthy to enjoy, when sourced from the best matcha tea farms in Japan, like our craft farm outside of Uji, Kyoto.
The bottom line - thinking beyond organic
If nothing else, matcha green tea is an example which provides us an added power of discretion in choosing what we put in our bodies, and telling us that we can be careful in this way beyond the limitations of that stewarding USDA symbol on organic matcha tea packaging.
As you explore, keep in mind that we’ve carefully navigated both traditional and organic matcha to bring you the best of both worlds and all our matcha is vigorously lab tested.
We stand behind the outstanding quality, and purity of all our matcha, sourced right from its birthplace in Uji, Japan!
- Team Matcha Kari
1) Prasanth, M. I., Sivamaruthi, B. S., Chaiyasut, C., & Tencomnao, T. (2019). A Review of the Role of Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) in Antiphotoaging, Stress Resistance, Neuroprotection, and Autophagy. Nutrients, 11(2), 474. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11020474
2) Vigar, V., Myers, S., Oliver, C., Arellano, J., Robinson, S., & Leifert, C. (2019). A Systematic Review of Organic Versus Conventional Food Consumption: Is There a Measurable Benefit on Human Health?. Nutrients, 12(1), 7. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12010007