Since I became interested in Japanese green tea around 12 years ago, I have been searching for competition grade tea from Japan, but it has always been impossible to find here in the United States. I’ve seen competition grade tea from China, but never Japan. So when this became available a few weeks ago, I jumped at the opportunity.
Compared with other matcha, Hibiki-an’s Competition Grade Matcha Pinnacle is much brighter in color: pure green with no brown undertones. If the green color is somewhat brown, then it is lower grade and gets exponentially more so as one goes down the scale of quality. As you can imagine, this tea has no detectable brown tones. It is pure green, like a perfect pistachio. Matcha color directly correlates with flavor, and the flavor of this tea is perfect as well: fresh, smooth and creamy with no bitterness.
Before this tea, the best matcha I sampled was Hibiki-an’s Matcha Pinnacle. It is vastly superior to other matcha due to the ideal color, fresh and creamy flavor with no bitterness, and the fact that it dissolves so purely and evenly when whisked. Both the flavor and texture can be described as soft, smooth and creamy. I fortunately had the opportunity to sample Matcha Pinnacle and Competition Grade Matcha Pinnacle side-by-side. As I had hoped for, the Competition Grade matcha exceeded my expectations and again raised the bar. Both are excellent and amazing teas in a whole league of their own, but the Competition Grade does outshine the regular Matcha Pinnacle in terms of pure green color and smooth, creamy taste and texture.
This is not an everyday tea, but should be seen as a rare opportunity to try something usually only reserved for a select few within the Japanese tea industry. Thanks to Atsushi and Keiko at Hibiki-an for the opportunity to try this special tea. It is truly amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Japanese tea.