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The Difference Between Matcha and Green Tea
Green tea originated in East Asia and is now commonly drunk across the world. It is well-known for its incredible health benefits and energising properties.
What is matcha?
Matcha is a form of green tea, also coming from the Camellia sinensis plant, but grown and farmed differently from regular green tea. The farming process for matcha green tea involves covering the plants for 20 - 30 days before harvesting. This protects the leaves from direct sunlight, increases chlorophyll production, and gives the leaves a darker, greener colour.
Matcha is generally a powder. Once harvested, the stems and veins are removed from the leaves which are then ground into a fine powder. The resulting matcha powder can then be mixed into milk to make a matcha latte.
Now, what does matcha taste like? Matcha has earthy notes, similar to green tea, but is slightly more bitter in taste. Since it can be added to milk, and into smoothies too, matcha green tea powder can be sweetened.
What is the difference between matcha and green tea?
Matcha is a kind of green tea, formed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Both matcha and green tea contain caffeine and both are cultivated in the way green tea should be, meaning the leaves are unoxidised and little processed.
Though matcha and green tea are very similar, and the same in many ways, they also have a fair few differences.
Green tea is notable for its refreshing, earthy and vegetal flavour. It has some slightly nutty notes and is relatively herbaceous. The flavour of green tea should never be bitter.
Matcha is slightly bitter compared with green tea. It has similar grassy, earthy, and vegetal notes to green tea, but it is a little more umami.
Both green tea and matcha can come infused with other flavours. Green tea can be paired with other teas from the Camellia sinensis plant, as well as various herbs, like jasmine, and dried fruits, like lemon. Matcha, on the other hand, is mixed with milk, alternative milk, and can be flavoured with sweeter notes like peach and elderflower.
The two kinds of tea can also be mixed together to make a matcha and green tea blend. This is usually done by mixing the two kinds of leaves in a teabag and infusing them in water.
A major difference between the two kinds of tea is their cultivation. Both are grown from the same plant but the final stages of production are different.
For matcha, the leaves are covered for at least 20 days before harvesting. This shields the leaves from direct sunlight, resulting in a much deeper and greener colour. It also stimulates the production of chlorophyll and boosts amino acid production.
The cultivation of green tea, on the other hand, involves taking the leaves from the plant as they begin to wither. They are then cooked to prevent any oxidisation of the leaf. Oxidisation would turn the leaf brown and alter the fresh flavour of the tea.
The cooking stage of the green tea cultivation process differs depending on the region of growth. For Japanese green tea, the leaves are usually steamed, whereas in China the leaves are generally roasted in a pan before drying.
Matcha can be prepared in two ways. The first, and most popular, is as a matcha latte. The matcha powder is blended with hot milk and can be sweetened to make it less bitter. A matcha latte can be served hot and iced.
The second way to prepare matcha is in the same way as green tea. Some matcha products come as teabags, meaning you can steep matcha leaves in boiling water and leave them to brew, just like regular green tea.
Both matcha and green tea come from the same plant and so they have similar nutritional values, though matcha tends to have increased levels due to the cultivation process of the powder.
While green tea has around 28mg of caffeine per average cup, matcha can provide more than 70mg. Matcha has much higher levels of antioxidants compared with green tea and the amino acid l-theanine is observed in much higher levels in matcha also. This is because the drying process of green tea can remove some of these compounds.
Best green tea and matcha products
Both matcha and green tea provide plenty of energising and healthy benefits to the drinker and so, drinking either can be beneficial to you. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite green tea and matcha products. Check them out below.
Green tea is versatile and can be blended with other teas, fruits, and herbs. We’ve got a few favourites listed below that we think you should try.
Now, we’ve mentioned matcha lattes and their versatility, but our favourite matcha latte product offers the energising and healthy benefits of matcha along with a sweet flavour twist. Take a look below.
Green tea and matcha tea come from the same tea plant, Camellia Sinensis, but their cultivation, preparation, flavour, and nutritional values all differ slightly, making them different beverages.
Frequently asked questions
Which is better green tea or matcha?
Both beverages contain antioxidants along with other nutrients and have anti-inflammatory properties. Matcha contains higher levels of caffeine, and while the calming effects of l-theanine prevent the jittery side effects, the higher levels of caffeine may make it unsuitable for some. On the other hand, matcha has much higher levels of antioxidants than green tea and so if nutritional value is your reason for drinking, matcha would be the better choice.
Is matcha or green tea better for weight loss?
Both matcha and green tea can be used for weight loss alongside a healthy, balanced diet and exercise. Green tea contains a compound, EGCG, which can boost metabolism and aid weight loss. Matcha contains much higher levels of this compound than regular green tea, meaning it may be more suitable for weight loss. However, matcha tea tends to be made with milk and some matcha sets contain added sweeteners and so you should always check the label to ensure you’re not consuming unnecessary calories.
Which green tea is healthiest?
Matcha green tea is thought to be the healthiest of all green teas. This is because the entire leaf is consumed meaning all of the nutritional value of the leaves are processed by the body.
Is green tea with matcha good for you?
Green tea and matcha blends give the drinker the benefits of both kinds of green tea. This blend provides high levels of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and the amino acid, l-theanine. Both kinds of green tea are healthy and contribute to a well-balanced diet.