Human beings cannot live without water, of course. The majority of the same people also cannot live without drinking the second most globally consumed fluid—tea!
It is one of the most-hygienic liquid refreshment in the world because it is made with sterile, boiling water and is a staple world over for more than 4000 years. The doctrine has it that people of yore were aware of tea’s health-improving benefits and used it to cure infectious diseases.
Conversely, matcha is a ground, powdered form of high-grade green tea. You whisk the powder into the steaming water instead of steeping to make a frothy drink.
As per the Tea Association of the USA, the tea segment generated a substantial revenue of $12.66 billion and $12.87 billion in the year 2018 and 2019, respectively. However, globally, China rules the roost with a monumental 86 billion in tea revenue in an unfinished 2019 already.
The following passages will explain the characteristics and composition of green tea and matcha, besides comparing their comparable aspects.
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The Tea Production
The Camellia sinensis plant produces all types of tea and is cultivated in more than 30 countries. Such plants grow best in between the Manipur, Nagaland, and Lushai hills along the Burma frontier, and all the way to China, Thailand, and into Vietnam.
Primarily, four types of tea are produced:
- Black tea
The type of tea leaves is determined through the processing method—mainly through fermentation and drying methods. Specifically;
- White tea is made with the youngest leaf buds and leaves and gets the least processing grind.
- Oolong tea is made by fermenting the leaves slightly.
- Black tea is produced through complete fermentation of the leaves.
- Lastly, green tea is made from mature leaves and is completely removed from the fermentation process.
Modern studies have indicated that green tea can reduce the dangers of cardiovascular diseases besides managing the following physiological functions:
- Bodyweight control
- The anti-hypertensive effect
- Solar ultraviolet security
- Antivirasic activity
- Neuroprotective power
- Anti-fibrotic properties
Matcha is produced in the Japanese regions of Uji, Yame, and Nishio, and is customarily served in the Japanese tea ceremony—a tradition that focuses on mindfulness and intention. Also, this beverage improves your post-workout recovery by improving your energy reservoirs, and may well subdue the damage created by UVB radiation.
Despite having ceremonial origins, matcha is massively popular across the world in refreshments such as boba tea or tea lattes, and as a food ingredient in everything from salad dressing to ice cream.
Today, China also produces Macha, but the original roots hail from Southern Japan.
Quality Grades of Matcha
Matcha comes in the following two primary quality grades:
This premium quality grade is brighter green and doesn’t carry sour or bitter notes in the flavor. This is your consuming matcha tea grade.
The culinary grade has a bitter edge and is dull in color. This less expensive grade is more suitable for baking and making beverages such as smoothies. It’s feasible to look out for product ingredients such as powdered milk and sugar when you are shopping for culinary grade matcha as these components are added to hide ordinary matcha.
How Matcha is Made
The unique taste of matcha stems from its cultivation method. About 10 – 14 days before the harvest in the spring, bamboo or tarp structures are erected to shade the plants. This enforced darkness makes the plants brighter, sweeter, and softer—while its purpose is to enhance the chlorophyll levels of the plants.
When farmers disconnect the natural light, leaves are forced to work hard for the sunlight, which eventually makes them wider and shiny green as they get loaded with chlorophyll while combating light deprivation. This results in tea leaves that are organically more rich in nutrients and flavor.
Post-harvest, the tea leaves are steamed and dried before being heated in the oven. After that, the twigs, stems, and other unnecessary plant parts are removed, and the remaining matter is ground into powder. It is this pounded powder that you can then whisk with steamy milk or hot water.
The arduous process necessary to commercially produce matcha also makes it much more expensive than the traditional green tea.
These are three high-quality matcha tea leaves:
MATCHA VERSUS GREEN TEA – A COMPARISION
The bright green appearance of matcha distinctively differentiates it from the rest of the green teas. This perfectly ground powder instantly dissolves in hot milk or water.
The finely ground, velvety matcha powder is smooth to your touch, while the green tea feels like rough, smashed-up leaves.
If you like your green tea, you will start liking matcha in no time. Although, few call it an acquired taste—matcha is, in fact, less bitter than your typical green tea. The texture is smoothly rich, and your flavor is mildly grassy in a feel-good way.
Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) Content
A 2003 study by the University of Colorado revealed that matcha carries three times the amount of EGCG than the majority of conventional green teas. Specifically, epigallocatechin gallate is the polyphenol famous for its power to marginally boost your calorie burn.
Also, the strong antioxidant ability of EGCG safeguards your DNA from free radical devastation.
As stated above, matcha requires more consideration, involvement, and skill than other green teas to produce, which makes the end product more impactful.
When you drink tea bags of green tea leaves or consume loose-leaf green tea—you steep them into hot water. Alternatively, matcha is a finely ground whole leaf powder that you whisk in steaming water. Also, the power of the whole plant adds more caffeine and antioxidant power to your beverage.
You typically boil green tea at 212 °F, which kills its nutritional gains. Alternatively, the optimized temperature for the matcha powder is under 175 °F.
One standard (237 ml) matcha cup that is prepared with 4 tsp. of powder carries caffeine content of about 280 mg. On the other hand, a cup of green tea of equivalent size only contains 35 mg of caffeine.
Matcha vs. Green Tea – Antioxidants Count
ECGCs are catechins—potent antioxidants with many health benefits such as physical strength and enhanced metabolism.
Antioxidants assist your body in removing toxins and free radicals, which make you vulnerable to obesity, cancer, and other severe medical conditions.
- Green Tea – 63 mg of antioxidants
- Matcha – 134 mg of antioxidants
L-theanine is an amino acid type that boosts creativity, memory, and learning capability. It extends most of the energizing gains of caffeine without the subsequent crash.
- 100g of matcha contains 2.41 mg of L-Theanine
- 100g of green tea contains no L-Theanine
Tannins are micronutrients that develop naturally in plants and are found in many teas and wines.
- Matcha contains 99 mg of tannins
- Green tea contains 7 mg of tannins
Matcha is Japanese
The concept of pounding tea leaves into powder is said to have originated in China around 1200 CE. Still, the matcha farming techniques were developed and honed over many centuries in Japan. Moreover, the Japanese soil—particularly Uji and Ise, plays an impactful role in the eventual taste.
In fact, the widespread popularity of matcha also encouraged China to produce and export its own knockoff version. However, the Chinese matcha is not made from leaves cultivated under shades, and are fried in a pan to block oxidation. This results in a sandy-texture without much froth.
Powdered Tea is Not Synonymous with Matcha
Remember, not every powdered tea is matcha unless it adheres by the cultivation and processing methods detailed above. Some merchants are selling generic tea powder as matcha, and an unsuspected buyer cannot often tell the difference. Therefore, always carefully peruse the contents of the product to establish its authenticity.
Green tea is one of the most-healthy liquid refreshment in the world because it is made with sterile, boiling water. Recent studies have revealed that green tea can reduce the dangers of cardiovascular diseases besides managing your physiological functions.
Alternatively, matcha is a powdered form of high-grade green tea that is whisked into the boiling water instead of steeping to make a frothy beverage. The unique taste of matcha hails from its growing method, which involves shading the plants a couple of weeks before harvest to make them brighter and sweeter, and to increase their chlorophyll levels.
Japan is credited with perfecting Matcha growing techniques over many centuries after a Buddhist monk learned the tea-powdering concept in China in 1200 CE. The painstaking process necessary to commercially produce matcha also makes it much pricier than the traditional green tea.
If you like your green tea—you would love matcha too. It is less bitter than a typical green tea with a richly smooth texture and a mildly grassy flavor. Lastly, a standard (237 ml) matcha cup carries 87% more caffeine content than a green tea of equal size.
Related: What is Matcha Tea Side Effects