In this post, we’ll be discussing Matcha vs green tea.
First of all, Matcha is green tea, right?
Then, do any green tea leaves that get ground into a fine powder become Matcha?
That’s where our first significant difference comes in.
What is green tea?
All green teas come from the plant Camellia Sinensis and are known for their fresh flavor and health benefits. Most green teas are produced in Asia, in countries like China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia during the spring.
All the freshly harvested tea leaves undergo various firing methods to save the fresh green qualities of the tea leaf. Green teas are the least oxidized out of all tea types.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is also a type of green tea produced predominantly in Japan, except it comes in powdered form. While we brew loose-leaf green teas, we drink the Matcha powder entirely together with the water.
RELATED: Matcha Basics
Tea bushes for Matcha are cultivated differently than other types of green tea.
About three weeks before harvest, which usually starts in May, the tea bushes are gradually shaded from the sun. As a result, the tea leaves grow thin, stocking up on large amounts of chlorophyll and turning a luscious green color. In turn, the tea leaves produce higher amounts of amino acids and L-theanine (this is what helps increase our alpha brain waves, promoting both creativity and relaxation!).
If you were wondering where the bountiful benefits of Matcha green tea powder come from — this is the start of it! Proper shading methods and hand-picking only the finest leaves ensure top-quality Matcha.
Tencha farm in Uji – Photo credit Avantcha.com
Altogether, Matcha contains 137 times more antioxidants than green tea.
One of the main benefits of Matcha vs green tea is that when we drink Matcha, we consume all the water-soluble components as well as the ones that aren’t water-soluble. While both Matcha and loose-leaf green tea contain vitamin C, amino acids, tannins, and caffeine, drinking Matcha green tea also gives us a healthy dose of vitamin A together with some fibers!
Tencha leaves (the leaves used for making matcha powder) are dried, de-veined and de-stemmed. After which the meticulous grinding process begins. Top-quality Matcha is ground by hand in small batches, to avoid heat damage. Every step of the process helps preserve the vibrant green color of the green tea powder.
The way to tell good quality Matcha apart from one of inferior quality is by color. A vibrant dark green Matcha color indicates that the powder will be full of sweetness, umami, and nutrients. A dull swampy color is not desired. It usually means that the tea leaves were picked late in the season or weren’t properly processed, which caused the loss of color. Matcha of a less vibrant color, however, is a good option for culinary purposes.
Most green teas aren’t shaded the same way Matcha is. They grow in the sun, after which the farmers harvest shoots, leaves, and stems. Sencha, for example, gets quickly steamed after harvest to preserve its color and health benefits. However, this is not the case with all green teas.
This is where things change drastically!
Matcha is closely related to one of the most ancient tea preparation methods there is. During the Tang Dynasty in China, people would prepare powdered tea, favoring the foam that forms.
The Japanese green tea powder is traditionally whisked in a large bowl, called a chawan. It is essential to use water of low temperature — about 175ºF (80℃). The beverage is drunk entirely, after which more can be prepared.
With loose leaf green tea, we should also use a low water temperature of 175ºF (80℃), depending on the tea. Japanese green teas can typically be re-brewed about three times, due to the way they are processed while certain Chinese green teas can be re-brewed over ten times.
Fact: In Japan, loose leaf green tea only started gaining popularity in the 18th century. Before then exclusively Matcha was consumed. The traditional matcha tea ceremony, chanoyu, was only accessible to nobles and some monks. Loose-leaf green tea, sencha to be exact, started as a “poor man’s way of enjoying tea”. To drink sencha, no fancy utensils or tea rituals were needed. Just the tea together with the person to enjoy it.
Caffeine In Matcha
Matcha caffeine content is higher than any other green tea. This is a direct result of us consuming the whole tea leaf. This makes matcha an excellent substitute for coffee.
Since Matcha green tea is also abundant in both catechins and L-theanine, it has been used for centuries amongst monks during long meditation periods. For some people, the components help promote creativity, a state of awareness, happiness, and peacefulness. It might even get you tea high!
Matcha vs Green Tea (Sencha) In A Nutshell
How To Make Matcha Tea
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About the Author: Angie is a tea enthusiast and article contributor to Path of Cha, a small company based in Brooklyn, New York. At Path of Cha, tea is a philosophy. The tea selection has been carefully decided among hundreds of teas and were chosen specifically to enhance your experience with this amazing drink.