Malcha vs. Powdered Green Tea

What is Malcha?

Malcha is the Korean pronunciation of the Hanja characters 抹茶 (matcha in Japanese, muocha in Chinese), directly translating to “powdered/ground down tea”.

How is “Malcha” different from “powdered green tea”?
The two are essentially the same – green tea leaves ground down to powder form.
All malcha is powdered green tea, BUT not all powdered green tea is malcha.

So what’s the difference?
Any type of green tea that is ground up can be qualified as “powdered green tea”. The green tea can be sun-grown, shade-grown, steamed, pan-fired, etc. As long as it is ground up into powder form, it can be called “powdered green tea”.

In order to qualify as “Malcha”, it MUST follow these rules:
(1) The green tea must be “연차” (yeoncha 碾茶 – “tencha” in Japanese). Yeoncha is made of tea leaves that are shade-grown (partially or fully), steamed and dried (some may roll or chop the leaves to make it easier to grind).
(2) The yeoncha must be ground to a fine powder with a stone mill.

Malcha will also foam well upon whisking. In Korean, we call this process of whisking and foaming malcha “격불” (khyuk-bool). In the photo above, one can see whisked malcha in the bowl on the top right (right of the bowl with the tin canister).

In order to produce such fine foam, two things are necessary: fine powder and technique. The latter is a skill that must be honed over time, through practice and experience.

The finest powder comes from tea leaves that are ground down slowly using a stone mill. While other methods (ceramic-ball milled, machine ground, etc.) are used to produce powdered green tea, the stone mill is what gets Malcha to this ultra-fine state, without destroying the essence or health benefits of the leaves. This is also the factor that limits the quantity that can be produced in a certain amount of time, making fine malcha such a high-priced commodity.

Like a great cup of latte, the smoothness and fineness of the foam at top can make all the difference.

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Gamnong Matcha (Powdered Green Tea)

Matcha (“malcha” in Korean) means powdered tea.
Though there are powdered forms of all types of tea (white, oolong, partially oxidized, black), matcha refers specifically to powdered green tea.

There is is no set rule, but the term “matcha” usually refers to high quality powdered green tea. Discerning quality comes down to two main factors – the grade of the tea leaf used and how well it foams when whisked.


Hankook Tea’s founder and CEO Yang Won Suh has received recognition by the Korean government as the 34th Grand Master of Traditional Korean Foods (or Myung-In) for his superior production of Matcha and Hwang Cha.

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Our Gamnong Matcha uses Sejak grade tea leaves (same grade as our Gamnong Jaksul Green Tea), grown at our Jangsung Tea Plantation. Part of this plantation is reserved specifically for our matcha.

The tea leaves shaded for a short period of time to produce a brighter color and slightly sweeter taste. The shading is only done for a short time in order to retain the “natural” green tea taste, as well as to retain higher levels of tannin and lower levels of caffeine.

Like a great latte, fine foam is an important part of matcha (see example in photo above: bowl on top, right shows whisked matcha topped with fine foam) In order to get great foam, technique and much practice is needed. But more importantly, the powder needs to be very fine. The best method found to date is by using a stone mill, which keeps all the nutrient intact while getting the leaves down to a soft, fine powder. Using a grinding machine is also common for powdered green tea (not matcha grade), but it cannot get the powder ground down as finely without destroying the nutrients or flavor of the tea leaf.

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Gamnong Matcha – 30g
Luxuriously smooth and slightly sweet in taste, the bright green liquor has a light grassy aroma.

Myung-In

“전통식품 명인 서양원인”
(Jeon-tohng-shik-poom Myung-in Seo-Yang-Won-een)

전통 (jeon-tohng) = traditional
식품 (shik-poom) = food products
명인 (myung-in) = master (person with excellent skills)
서양원 = Seo, Yang Won ((Founder & CEO of Hankook Tea)
인 (een) = mark/seal

Grand Master of Traditional Korean Foods

(명인 myung-in) is a distinguished title given to individuals in recognition of their extraordinary contributions in protecting and preserving the nation’s traditional agricultural methods, manufacturing processes and unique tastes of Korean culture. Since 1994, in effort to protect and preserve Korean food traditions, the South Korea Ministry of Agriculture has recognized individuals.

In 2008, Yang Won Seo (picture above and below), Founder and CEO of Hankook Tea Company, has been recognized as the 34th Grand Master of Traditional Korean Foods by the government for being a “master” at his craft, for his skillful technique in developing and crafting the artisan Hwang Cha (partially oxidized tea) and superior production of Matcha (powdered green tea).

Since 1951…

In 1951, “Hankook Black Tea” was established in the city of Suncheon (South Korea), starting with production of only black tea, adding green tea production a few years later. Relocation to the current location in Gwangju, along expansion of adding the production of duchung (root of a plant) and kyulmyung (cassia seed), took place in 1964. During this time, the company was a solely a supplier of raw material to various other companies within the country.

By 1994, the company was producing retail packaging for all its products, as well as opening up several retail storefronts and tea rooms under the name Chasaengwon (“where tea is produced”). The company’s name was also changed to the current Hankook Tea Company.

In 1995, Hankook Tea was the official sponsor of the Gwangju Biennale 1995. By this time, exports to Japan and Canada were in full effect. Continuous time and effort was spent to produce the best possible cup of Korean tea. These efforts were acknowledged in 1997 when the company participated in the International Tea Competition (sponsored by the board of Shizuoka in Japan) as the Korean representative.

This not only pointed out the importance of spreading the Korean tea culture to other countries, but also within the country, in which the culture had faded in the past few decades (especially with the boom of coffee and cafes).

In 1997, the Woon-Cha Cultural Center was opened, creating a space where anyone and everyone was welcome come enjoy tea. Multiple gatherings – education sessions, filming of the Korean tea ceremony, casual tea with friends and more – have and still take place to this day.

Contributing further to the modern history of tea in Korea, the company erected a statue of Master Choeui (photo above – from http://www.baekryunsa.net/plugin/mobile/board.php?bo_table=photo_6&wr_id=291) at the Daeheung Temple in Haenam in 1999.

In 2005, Hankook Tea U.S.A, Inc. was established and a Chasaengwon was opened in Los Angeles, California (photo above).


By this time, recognition and awards were received from various competitions, festivals and events, as well as from the government of South Korea. The greatest recognition was received in 2008, when founder and CEO Yang Won Suh was appointed as the 34th Grand Master of Traditional Korean Foods (picture left) by the Republic of Korea, awarded in superior production of Hwang Cha (partially oxidized tea) and Matcha (powdered green tea).

Following current trends and upholding strict standards to produce eco-friendly products that are harmonious with Mother Nature, organic certification (South Korea and USDA) and ISO22000 certification (top grade given to factories for cleanliness and sanitation) were acquired, expanding our selection of teas even further.

Hankook Tea always strives to continue and contribute to our rich heritage.

Cherishing the Exquisite Art of Tea and
Philosophy of Friendship