CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR: TEAM MATCHA.COM
Have you ever found yourself wondering about the difference between matcha vs. green tea? You're not the only one! While green tea has long been linked to various health benefits, such as weight loss, reduced stress, and better cardiovascular health, a brighter shade of green tea is stealing the spotlight: matcha.
Matcha is a powdered, high-grade green tea with higher amounts of caffeine, antioxidants, and added health benefits due to how it is grown and prepared. Keep reading to find out precisely what matcha powder is and why it's considered healthier than other types of green tea.
Are matcha and green tea the same?
Matcha is technically a type of green tea. Matcha and green tea both come from a plant native to China, known as Camellia sinensis, which can be traced back almost 5,000 years to ancient China. Although they are both derived from the same plant of the Tencha variety, they are cultivated differently. (6)
Conventionally, green tea is grown out in the sun until it is harvested. However, for growing traditional Japanese-style matcha, tea bushes are covered to stay in the shade for the last several weeks before harvest. The shade helps increase the amount of chlorophyll in the leaves, leading to denser, more vibrant shades of green in the matcha tea leaves and a higher nutrient count than traditional green tea.(6)
Following the harvest, done by hand, the young leaves are stored in a dark place to protect the nutrients. They are deveined and destemmed and ground into a fine, bright green powder.
How is matcha vs. green tea prepared?
While traditional green teas are often made from loose leaves or packed into teabags, matcha is made from finely ground, whole leaves. The whole leaves are ground into powder, whisked into hot water, and enjoyed sip by sip, whereas with conventional green tea, leaves are brewed and then taken out of the boiling water after one to three minutes. (6)
PHOTO IMAGE HERE OF A MATCHA LATTE BEING PREPARED/ Caption: To enjoy a matcha latte, simply add steamed milk and your favorite natural sweetener of choice.
How healthy is matcha compared to green tea?
The notably high concentrations of phenolic acids, quercetin, rutin, theanine, and chlorophyll in matcha exceed those in other green tea varieties. Studies have shown that matcha often contains 3–10 times more antioxidants than typical green tea varieties. Matcha is also packed with EGCG, also known as catechin, one of the strongest antioxidants.(6)
So, even though they share many of the same health-promoting properties, the beneficial biologically active compounds in matcha are more active and concentrated than in regular green tea. This makes the regular consumption of matcha particularly good for both physical and mental health.
Did you know?
One study found that matcha has more than double the amount of vitamin C than other brewed green teas. (7)
Matcha also has more caffeine than regular brewed green tea—but less than you'll find in regular brewed black tea or coffee. On average, an 8-ounce cup of matcha has around 19–45 milligrams of caffeine, while typical green tea has approximately 11–25 mg per serving. (6)
When tea leaves are removed from the water after the steeping process in regular green tea, some of the nutrients are inevitably removed. In comparison, you reap the full benefits of the whole tea leaf when consuming matcha. The shade-grown cultivation method is also behind the added health benefits of matcha compared to green tea. (6)
What are the health benefits of matcha?
Due to its unique composition of bioactive components, matcha offers a wide range of potential health benefits:
Packed with antioxidants, it's no surprise that matcha can help fight inflammation, promote cell repair, and support artery health. According to one study, matcha can contain up to 137 times more antioxidants than a lower-grade variety of brewed green tea. (11)
Weight loss aid
Eleven studies found that green tea can help people rev up their metabolism, increase fat burning during exercise, and maintain healthier body weight. (10) For example, one study found that women drinking matcha two hours before a brisk walk burned more fat while walking. (12)
A stronger immune system
All types of green tea have been shown to help support and regulate the immune system against infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Still, a recent study demonstrated that matcha green tea might even possess antiviral properties.
Enhanced mental clarity and mood
With much higher levels of L-theanine than other types of green tea, matcha is especially good at helping combat stress and fatigue. In addition, studies show that the high amounts of L-theanine in matcha can provide a milder, more enjoyable, longer-lasting buzz than coffee. (3)
Boosts heart health
Drinking green teas has been shown to help improve several key risk factors for heart disease, including blood sugar levels, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol. Studies have shown that regularly drinking green tea can lower your risk of heart disease by up to 31%. (2) (1)
Provides liver support
Several animal studies have shown that matcha may help protect liver health. For example, a study of diabetic rats given matcha for 16 weeks found that matcha helped protect both the liver and kidneys. (13) Plus, over 15 studies found that drinking green tea is linked to a decreased risk of liver disease. (14)
Recent studies on the potential health benefits of matcha are promising. Still, it will be necessary to take on more in-depth studies specific to traditional Japanese-grown matcha in the future.
IMAGE/CAPTION: Many people report having more mental clarity and lower anxiety levels when drinking green tea vs. coffee.
What is the brief history of matcha?
During the Song Dynasty, Buddhist monks began grinding tea leaves into a matcha powder and adding it to hot water in a bowl. A zen monk, Eisai, brought the practice of consuming matcha to Japan. The practice was adopted by Japanese warriors as their pre-battle tea tradition and has since evolved into the contemporary traditional Japanese tea ceremony. (9)
Matcha is now a standard drink in Japan; there is an elaborate tea ceremony around drinking matcha. When prepared traditionally, hot water is whisked together with matcha until it forms a smooth, frothy beverage that can be sipped straight from a comfortably cupped bowl.(4)
Matcha is easy to prepare and enjoy
Did you know that matcha is super easy to make?
Traditional Japanese matcha tea is made by sifting 1–2 teaspoons of matcha powder into your cup using a long bamboo spoon. From there, you simply add 2 ounces of hot water and use a bamboo whisk to blend the water and matcha powder. This creates a foamy tea that can be poured into your cup and enjoyed.
Depending on your preferred consistency, you can adjust the ratio of matcha powder to hot water. For thinner tea, you can put in a half teaspoon of matcha powder and add 3–4 ounces of hot water.
There are several ways to prepare matcha, so you can choose the method you enjoy best. Slightly sweet in flavor, matcha can be enjoyed with water, added to milk for a latte, combined with something sweet, or used as a bright ingredient for baked goods.
What does good vs. bad quality matcha taste like?
Good-quality matcha has a slightly sweet taste. It is bright in color and creamy in texture, while the average matcha can be more yellow and grainy. The quality of the leaves makes all the difference. With cheaper matcha, it is likely that tougher, older tea bush leaves are used instead of the more vibrant and younger green leaves. (5)
Where should I buy matcha?
We carry various matcha powders, from the highest-quality culinary grade matcha to ceremonial grade matcha. Not sure which matcha powder is suitable for you?
If you're interested in preparing matcha at home, we also have all the essential accessories you need to whisk up a traditional Japanese-style bowl of matcha.
The final word
Matcha comes from the same plant as traditional green tea, but it is a unique, compelling form of green tea. Composed of the entire leaf, matcha packs a more potent punch of antioxidants and other beneficial elements than brewed green tea.
Research has backed up a wide breadth of health benefits associated with matcha, ranging from immune booster to weight loss aid. So, for the final word, 1–2 cups of matcha a day is a simple and easy way to give yourself a boost of extra wellness.
– Team Matcha.com
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