Many people get confused when they hear the term ‘matcha green tea’. Is matcha the same thing as green tea? If not, what makes it different from other forms of green tea?
Lots of different forms of green tea and herbal teas infiltrated Western culture long before matcha green tea came onto the scene. This is because people realised the many benefits that green tea has on your physical and mental health.
But now people in the Western world have found a new and exciting form of green tea that might provide even more health benefits to traditional forms of green tea…matcha!
This Japanese green tea powder has gained a lot of traction in recent years because of its amazing taste and proven health benefits. It’s packed full of beneficial plant nutrients and studies suggest that matcha is even better for you than traditional green tea in a number of ways.
In this article, we’re going to define what green tea and matcha are, and the key differences between the two. We will also cover the main benefits of drinking green tea and matcha.
What is Green Tea?
Green tea is obtained from the Camellia sinensis plant. This plant is also used to create black and white tea. To produce green tea, manufacturers harvest the leaves of the green tea plant and heat them to a specific temperature.
Heating the leaves causes them to oxidise and turn brown, and dries them out. The dried leaves are sold to consumers as loose powder or tea bags and create a delicious cup of green tea when steeped in hot water.
Green tea has an earthy taste that some people don’t enjoy very much and it can leave a slightly bitter taste in your mouth. However, most people get used to the taste and it becomes more bearable over time.
Many of the popular green tea products that are now available in supermarkets and health stores are flavoured with a variety of different things. For example, you can get green tea that has been infused with Lavendar, chamomile, jasmine, citrus, honey, berries, and more. You’re bound to found at least one flavour that you enjoy!
What is Matcha?
Put simply, matcha is a type of green tea. It is obtained from the same plant as green, black, and white tea but it has a unique taste and nutritional profile due to the manufacturing process.
Manufacturers will allow the plant to grow in the shade for its final few weeks. This slows down the growth of the leaves and stimulates an increase in chlorophyll and protein production in the plant.
Once harvested, the manufacturers will dry the leaves as quickly as possible to minimise oxidation. For this reason, matcha retains its natural bright green colour, unlike other forms of tea where the leaves have oxidised to a brown colour.
Once dried, the matcha leaves are ground into a fine powder that can be sold to consumers. The resulting matcha green tea beverages have a stunning green colour and a flavoursome taste that is less bitter than traditional green tea.
Matcha powder is commonly used in food recipes to add extra benefits to the meal or snack. Some popular matcha-containing foods include pancakes, waffles, cookies, and cakes.
What Are the Differences Between Green Tea and Matcha?
So, if matcha is obtained from the same plant (and the same part of the plant) as normal green tea, what’s the difference between the two?
We’ve already briefly mentioned the difference in the harvesting and manufacturing processes. It’s because of these differences that matcha tastes different from green tea and has a different nutritional profile.
Green tea tends to have a grassy, earthy flavour. It is often sweetened with floral, fruity, or nutty flavours, such as jasmine, citrus, or honey and ginger.
Matcha has a sweeter and richer flavour than green tea. Many people choose to pair matcha with sweet additions, such as honey or stevia. It’s become hugely popular to have in lattes.
Take a quick trip to your local coffee store and you’ll probably spot matcha lattes on the menu. Mixing the green powder with cow’s milk or plant-based milk creates a delicious taste where the sweet milk counteracts the bitterness of the matcha.
The amount of caffeine in green tea and matcha differ due to the growing process but the preparation process can also affect caffeine content.
On average, green tea contains between 11 and 25 milligrams of caffeine per gram of powder. Matcha has between 19 and 44 grams, giving it a higher caffeine concentration and a stronger flavour.
The caffeine differences are partly because matcha is ground into a fine powder and sold in a loose form. Green tea tends to come in a teabag, which causes you to use less product in one cup of tea. Therefore, you end up getting a lower caffeine dosage per beverage.
Both green tea and matcha are packed full of micronutrients and antioxidants. They also contain high amounts of amino acids. However, when green tea is steeped in hot water, some of the nutrients get drawn out of the leaves but some remain stuck in the leaves when the tea bag is removed from the cup.
Because matcha is milled into a fine powder that gets mixed (usually with a bamboo whisk but you can make matcha tea without a whisk), there are no wasted nutrients or caffeine.
Plus, the green tea plant is grown in the shade for the final few weeks before harvesting when matcha is being made, the resulting powdered product contains a higher amount of chlorophyll and amino acids than green tea.
In particular, matcha has higher levels of L-theanine and tryptophan compared to other forms of tea. It also contains high concentrations of a specific antioxidant called EGCG, which is known to reduce inflammation an oxidative stress in the body.
What Are the Health Benefits of Green Tea?
Green tea has been used medicinally for centuries in China and Japan. Its health benefits have been recognised for years and they are pretty well known across the world.
A cup of hot green tea will provide you with a range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants called polyphenols. These compounds, alongside caffeine, provide the following benefits:
- Increased focus and concentration
- Increased mental clarity and alertness
- Improved digestion
- Reduced headaches
- Increased metabolism and weight loss
- Better memory
- Lower risk of cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative disease
- Improved skin health
What Are the Health Benefits of Matcha?
The health benefits of matcha are very similar to those of green tea. After all, they are obtained from the same plant, so they’re going to contain the same phytocompounds and phytonutrients.
However, because matcha powder is more concentrated than most green tea products that are available on the market, the benefits may be enhanced. Matcha’s higher chlorophyll, caffeine, L-theanine, and antioxidant content are also responsible for the enhanced health benefits compared to green tea.
Alongside the benefits of green tea, matcha may also provide the following benefits for your health:
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved blood vessel health
- Improved markers of metabolic health
- Reduced risk of cancer and slower tumour cell growth
Which One is Better for You?
Since green tea and matcha share very similar health benefits, you will feel great drinking either option. They both have a similar taste too but matcha has a slightly richer taste.
If we had to choose one option, we would recommend matcha over green tea. The growing process ensures that the resulting matcha powder has a higher nutritional content.
Matcha is perfect when you’re trying to increase your nutrient intake and you’re keen on getting more antioxidants into your diet. Because matcha powder does not get steeped in water like green tea bags, the nutrients aren’t lost. With matcha powder, you are consuming the leaves themselves, so you get maximum nutrition.
Both green tea and matcha are easy to consume and they are both enjoyable to drink. When you’re making green tea, you will need to wait at least a few minutes for the contents of the tea leave to diffuse into the water. However, with matcha, the process is much quicker.
With our Matcha Energy Health Pods, which are available in a pack of 10, 30, 60, or 100 pods, making a cup of matcha green tea is quick and easy. It takes just a few minutes for our Nespresso matcha pods to brew up a cup of green deliciousness.
Unlike many of the matcha green tea products that are out there where you end up with a cup of green water, the drink that you get after using our Matcha Energy Health Pods is full of froth and texture.
The Nespresso pods that we have here at Rejuvenation Water are all compostable and biodegradable too, so you can do your part for the environment while still enjoying al of the matcha goodness!