I have had the pleasure of experiencing Aiya Teas in the past, and you can read our reviews on their Ceremonial Matcha and their Premium Matcha on our website. So I knew to expect the highest quality Matcha in this set.
Speaking of high quality Matcha, I had a phone conversation with one of the wonderful staff at Aiya Tea, James, and not only was my opinion enforced that this is an absolutely wonderful tea company, but we also had a conversation about Matcha grades which I would like to share with you.
As I explained to my husband, Matcha comes in many different grades, or quality, depending on the company producing the Matcha, where and when the leaves are picked, which leaves are picked and how those leaves are processed and packaged. However, the terms “Ceremonial”, “Premium” and other descriptors of Matcha are left completely up to the manufacturer, and one company’s Ceremonial Matcha may be the same as a different companies “Cooking Grade” Matcha (the lowest quality of Matcha). So these terms are not usually very accurate between different companies.
With Aiya Tea, their Cooking Grade Matcha is the lowest quality they carry but is still a very high quality Matcha. Ceremonial Matcha is the next highest grade and to me it is of the highest quality, definitely ceremonial quality. And finally their Premium Grade, which I adore, is their highest quality Matcha, and you can definitely tell this by the bright green color and the texture which is softer than the lightest baby powder.
The two main ways you can tell the difference in the quality of Matcha is by observing the color and the texture. The brighter the color, and the finer the texture, the higher the quality of Matcha.
Aiya Tea offers several gift sets with your choice of Matcha (either Premium Matcha, Ceremonial Matcha or Organic Ceremonial Matcha). The one I chose was the Premium Matcha because that is my favorite Matcha in the world. Aiya Tea literally makes the best Matcha I’ve ever tasted thus far, and their Premium Matcha is of the highest quality.
The gift set also comes with your choice of very elegant, very high end vidro processed bowl. The vidro glass work on the bowl’s basin exudes old-world style charm. See a photo of their beautiful Classic Vidro cup to the right, however Aiya Tea also lets you choose your bowl for their gift set and they also carry Black Pearl, Deep Soil and a Pure White bowl. Personally I chose the Classic Vidro bowl because of it’s natural beauty and classic/traditional style.
Along with your choice of Matcha cup, and 30 gram tin of Matcha, the gift sets also include a beautiful bamboo Matcha tea scoop, and a high quality bamboo Matcha whisk. Everything comes beautifully packaged in decorative boxes and containers, so this really does make a WONDERFUL gift, whether for yourself or a friend!
Aiya Tea describes this tea as:
Aiya branded Matcha gift set contains 30g Matcha, whisk, scoop, and Matcha tea bowl along with Aiya’s documentary DVD. This 20 minute DVD covers many aspects from how to prepare Matcha, how Matcha is manufactured, the health benefit of Matcha, and to the history of Aiya and Nishio region.
From Matcha lovers to people who never tried Matcha before, this Matcha gift set is a perfect gift and contains all of the necessary tools to enjoy Matcha at your home.
You can pick your Matcha from 3 grades and from 4 different bowls.
Premium Matcha 30g tin
Ceremonial Matcha 30g tin
Organic Ceremonial Matcha 30g tin
Deep Soil tea bowl
Pure White Tea bowl
Black Pearl tea bowl
Classic Vidro tea bowl
This gift set comes with Premium Matcha and Classic Vidro Matcha bowl.
Aiya Tea truly has the highest quality Matcha products and accessories available, and I can’t emphasize how exquisite their Matcha Gift Sets are!
As a special treat for all of our readers, we sat down and got an exclusive interview for The Tea Review blog from the Aiya Tea Sales Representative James Oliveira, and one of the head honchos over there. We think you will take interest in this very unique interview:
How did Aiya Tea get its start?
Aiya originally started out as dying clothing an indigo color and also had a tea business in Nishio. However, we thought we should have some unique product/industry in the Nishio region to take advantage of the pure, clean environment. Nishio has history growing tea since the 13th century and there were tea farmers that cultivated rice, vegetables and teas. In 1908 the founder of Aiya, Aijiro Sugita thought tea, more specifically Matcha had big potential for both the Nishio famers and Aiya. He explained the benefits of Matcha cultivation to the local Nishio farmers and had them focus only on Tencha cultivation. He also work together to create an industrial scale Tencha (an ingredient for making Matcha) plantation. Since then Aiya has been producing Matcha sourced from local tea farmers in Nishio. Therefore, most of tea farmers in Nishio have a long standing relationship with Aiya that has lasted for generations.
Please watch the Aiya documentary movie by clicking the link below:
***The name Aiya actually comes from the original business. “Ai” in Japanese means “indigo” and “Ya” is usually a prefix at the end used for shops. People used to refer to the business as “Aiya” meaning indigo shop and the name just stuck.
Why is Aiya Tea Matcha better than the rest?
First off Aiya is the number 1 biggest manufacture of Matcha in the world. Our main office and manufacturing facility is based in the heart of Nishio, Japan which is one of the biggest Matcha growing regions in Japan. Aiya has been around for over 120 years and is family owned for 4 generations. Aiya has a long history and has contracts with over 80% of the famers in the Nishio region. These famers too have a long history of growing tea for Matcha production for generations.
We pride itself on offering the best quality Matcha. We are also have many certifications and are pioneers in the Matcha industry. Some of these certificates include ISO22000, AIB Superior, USAD Organic Certified, Kosher and Hala, amongst others.
Where can a person purchase Aiya Tea Matcha and tea accessories?
Right now Aiya’s products can only be found at specialty tea shops or stores. The best way for people to purchase or Matcha, Green Teas and accessories is directly from us on our website at www.aiya-america.com. We will offer a special 10% discount off the entire order for your readers by using the promotional code “TR2011” during checkout. This promotion for your readers will be valid until the end of November 2011.
What’s in the future for Aiya Tea? Any new products coming out soon?
One of our new products that we had launched last spring was our Matcha Zen Cafe Blend. They come in convenient stick form so you can take it with you on the go. With our Matcha Zen Cafe Blend you can make Matcha smoothies, lattes and even a sweet ice tea. We are also working on coming out with loose leaf green teas in a consumer friendly package. We are still finalizing the packaging but it looks like we will be offering all of our loose leaf teas in 80 gram sized tins. We have many varieties of loose leaf teas in both conventional grade and organic grade. We are hoping to launch The Loose Leaf teas by the end of the year.
Finally, please tell our readers a little bit about Aiya Tea and their products:
Aiya’s main product is Matcha green tea. We have many different grades depending on how you would like to enjoy Matcha. We have our Premium Grade Matcha which is the highest grade available. This grade is usually reserved for only special occasions. Then we have our Ceremonial Grade Matcha which is more suitable for everyday drinking. This grade is even accepted by the tea masters in Japan for use in tea ceremonies, not just any grade of Matcha can be used. Next we have our Cooking Grade Matcha which is used for culinary purposes such as making ice creams and for use in making desserts. The Cooking Grade Matcha has enough astringency so that when you combine it with other ingredients the Matcha flavor won’t be lost or overpowered by the other ingredients. For the folks that prefer to drink Matcha in a smoothie, latte or as sweet ice tea we have our Matcha Zen Cafe Blend. Matcha is such a versatile tea that you can enjoy it in many different ways.
Finally Aiya also has a variety of loose leaf Japanese green tea that we will soon launch in smaller more consumer friendly sizes. We will have Gyokuro, Sencha, Matcha Infused Sencha, and Matcha Infused Genmaicha. We will have these loose leaf teas in both conventional grade and organic grade for consumers.
***A little note for readers. The term “Ceremonial Grade Matcha” is used a lot but different companies pass a cooking grade or lower grade Matcha off as a “Ceremonial Grade” or a tea that is suitable for straight drinking. Often times this causes people to have a bad association with Matcha because a lower grade Matcha is going to be bitter and astringent. You really have to compare Matcha brands to see which offers better quality because there is no industry standard saying that a company must produce Matcha at a certain quality to use the term “Ceremonial Grade.” Some tips though for a good quality Matcha is to look at the color. High quality Matcha should have a nice, brilliant emerald green color. Whereas a low quality Matcha will have a brownish/yellowish color. Next the taste should be smooth. A low quality Matcha is going to be bitter and astringent. A high quality Matcha will have enough natural sweetness to balance out the flavor and have what they call the umami taste from the amino acids. Finally you can tell by the feel of Matcha. If you take a little Matcha and smear it on hand or piece of paper you can feel like smooth creamy texture. A lower quality Matcha will feel more grainy.
We would like to thank James for his time and thorough answers for our readers to get to know Aiya Tea and more about the wonderful world of Matcha! If you have never tried Matcha before, try some of the best from Aiya Tea.