which matcha is most sustainable?

by

Lauren Stiles

This or That

August 19, 2021

Matcha is a delicious green drink made from green tea leaves. It is traditionally from Japan but it has increased in popularity worldwide. In fact, it is noticeable on the menu at almost every coffee shop I have been to in the past couple years though it can definitely be made at home.

So, I think it’s a good idea to delve into the sustainability of different matcha brands. Goldthread and Pure Chimp both make and sell different matcha options. Goldthread’s matcha comes in the form of a pre made drink along with other ingredients like monkfruit. Pure Chimp’s matcha is sold as a powder to be made into a drink at home.

Starting with ingredients, both brands use ceremonial grade matcha sourced from Japan. Goldthread’s comes from small scale generational farmers in the Shizuoka region of Japan while Pure Chimp’s is sourced from Kagoshima, Japan where the terrain is more conducive to large-scale machinery.

Goldthread says that their product is organic, though it is not certified to be so since small scale herb growers are not always able to afford the certification process. Pure Chimp’s matcha is grown without pesticides but the fertilizers used to grow it are not organic. If Goldthread is telling the truth (which would be difficult to verify), then their matcha is more sustainably grown.

Both brands use recyclable containers, which is good.

Unfortunately, since both brands source from across the globe, there is a large carbon footprint associated with transport of ingredients. Neither brand lays out a plan to reduce these emissions or switch to renewable energy.

Also, neither brand provides sufficient information about their labor practices, which is something that they both need to address in a public way.

Goldthread does stand out a bit because of their apothecary school and Farm to Pharmacy program that teaches students about herb farming. This brand also established a community supported agriculture program through which community members can buy shares of a small organic farm in Massachusetts and receive products in return.

Overall, it seems that Goldthread has more social initiatives than Pure Chimp and supports small scale farming. But, both of these brands still have a lot to address when it comes to sustainability: carbon emissions from shipping, labor practices, using renewable energy, and further transparency about each of these areas. 

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