Is there a difference between matcha vs green tea? Technically not, but the true answer is a bit more complicated than that. In this article, we’re going to compare matcha vs green tea to see the differences and similarities between the two.
Let’s get started. 🍃
What is the difference between Matcha vs Green Tea?
Before we compare matcha vs green tea, it’s important to first clear up one thing.
It is actually a type of green tea. The definition of a green tea is a tea that is unoxidized.
This sets it apart from black teas which are fully oxidized and oolong teas that are partially oxidized.
Like other green teas, matcha begins its life as leaves on the camelia sinensis plant.
This plant, also simply called the tea plant, is an evergreen, flowering shrub native to Southeast Asia.
All true teas need to come from this plant.
If the leaves come from a different plant, it is not considered a green tea or even a type of tea at all.
When we compare matcha vs green tea in loose leaf form like sencha, there are two main stages in the production process that make it unique.
Matcha has to be made from top leaves of the tea plant
Matcha has to be made from the top leaves of the tea plant, they have to be shaded for a long period of time.
Matcha has it stems removed
The first is the removal of the stems and the second is the grinding of the leaves in a large stone mill.
Leaves vs powder
This fine powder is then mixed directly into the water. The biggest difference between matcha vs green tea like sencha is that matcha is mixed directly into water whereas most teas are infused into water. This leads to big differences in both the flavor and in the matcha health benefits, both of which we will discuss next.
So is Matcha green tea? Yes.
Matcha, a vibrant green powder, is a unique form of green tea created by grinding young tea leaves into a fine texture.
Unlike traditional green tea, which involves steeping the leaves in water and subsequently removing them, matcha is prepared by whisking the powdered leaves with hot water.
This distinct preparation method sets matcha apart from its counterparts.
What is the difference between Matcha vs green tea flavor?
When you compare the flavor of matcha vs green tea like sencha, you’ll notice the flavor of matcha is much more intense. This is because you are getting more of the leaf with each sip.
When you grind the tea leaf into a powder and mix it directly into water, you are magnifying the taste of the tea. This is why you can’t make matcha out of normal green tea leaves.
Matcha has to be made from the top leaves of the tea plant, they have to be shaded for a long period of time and they have to have their stems removed prior to grinding, all of which improves the flavor
Matcha has a much thicker consistency and it tends to have more of this savory or umami flavor. It also can have more of this steamed vegetable flavor profile thats common in other types of green teas. By looking at the matcha green color palette, you can actually tell a lot about the matcha powder.
Sencha on the other hand tends to be a bit more subtle. It has a translucent color, a thinner texture and a light sweetness. In addition to there being a difference in taste, there is also a difference between matcha vs green tea like sencha when it comes to health benefits.
Below you can find the comparison chart of the iconic Japanese green tea and ceremonial matcha green tea:
Health benefits of matcha vs green tea
Is matcha good for you? Yes! As we said before, the taste of matcha is like a more intense version of green tea and the same can be said for the matcha vs green tea health benefits. Because you are consuming the entire leaf, you are getting more of the health properties within the leaf.
Think about when you brew a loose leaf tea. You must be extracting relatively little from the leaves because it seems like you throw out the same amount of leaves that you started with. With matcha, you start out with a few grams of powder and then you drink all of it.
Matcha and green tea differ in their caffeine levels due to variations in their preparation and consumption methods.
Matcha has a higher caffeine content
Matcha contains a higher caffeine content compared to regular green tea. This is primarily because when preparing matcha, the entire powdered tea leaf is consumed, whereas with regular green tea, the leaves are steeped and then discarded. By consuming the whole leaf, matcha delivers a more concentrated amount of caffeine.
The exact caffeine content in matcha can vary depending on factors such as the quality of the tea leaves, the serving size, and the brewing technique. On average, a typical serving of matcha (1 teaspoon of powder) contains approximately 35-70 milligrams of caffeine. However, it's important to note that there are variations among different brands and grades of matcha.
Green tea contains a moderate amount of caffeine
On the other hand, green tea, when brewed conventionally, contains a moderate amount of caffeine. A typical cup of brewed green tea contains around 25-45 milligrams of caffeine, depending on factors such as the variety of green tea, water temperature, steeping time, and the amount of tea leaves used.
It's worth mentioning that the caffeine in tea interacts with other compounds present in the tea leaves, such as L-theanine. L-theanine has calming properties and can help counterbalance the potential jitteriness caused by caffeine, providing a more balanced and relaxed energy boost.
Both green tea and matcha can be beneficial for weight loss, but it ultimately depends on your personal preferences and needs. Here are the four factors to consider when deciding between green tea vs matcha for weight loss:
- Caffeine content: Matcha generally has a higher caffeine content than regular green tea. Caffeine can help boost metabolism and increase fat oxidation, potentially aiding in weight loss. However, it's important to consume caffeine in moderation and be mindful of its effects on your body.
- Nutritional profile: Matcha is made from whole tea leaves that are ground into a powder, which means you consume the entire leaf and benefit from its nutrients. Matcha is rich in antioxidants, including catechins like EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which have been associated with weight management. Green tea also contains beneficial compounds and antioxidants, although in lesser amounts compared to matcha.
- Taste and preparation: Matcha has a unique and vibrant flavor profile, which some people enjoy. However, it can be an acquired taste. Green tea has a more subtle taste and is available in various flavors and varieties.
- Convenience: Matcha requires a specific preparation method, involving whisking the powder with hot water. Green tea can be brewed using tea bags or loose leaves, making it more convenient for some individuals.
Antioxidants in matcha vs green tea
There is an often used statistic that matcha contains 136 times the antioxidants as a regular tea. While this is very far from the truth, there is a big difference between the antioxidants in matcha vs green tea, likely closer to 10 times. The most common antioxidants in green tea are catechins, which have been credited with helping everything from weight loss to immune support.
These antioxidants may be healthy, but they come with a slightly astringent flavor. This is why we don’t recommend brewing green teas with a high temperature water, as it extracts more of these catechins and therefore more bitterness. If you ever leave a tea brewing for too long, you will experience this first hand as the tea will become incredibly bitter.
Because matcha is mixed directly into water, you’re getting all the catechins in the tea and thats why most matcha is bitter. If you want a better drinking experience, you have to go for a smoother matcha like the matcha washimine, which still is high in antioxidants but it is balanced out by a smooth flavor profile.
In addition to having more antioxidants, matcha also contains more theanine and caffeine. Theanine is thought to buffer some of the more negative side effects of caffeine. It slows the absorption and helps you avoid things like the jitters and the crash which normally accompany a caffeineated beverage.
Theanine is also thought to induce a calming effect on the brain. This is why tea drinkers report having a calm alert feeling that lasts throughout the day. It also is thought to stimulate alpha brainwave activity, the same brainwaves stimulated during long periods of meditation.
The high theanine content in matcha comes from the long shading process of the tea, which is why the theanine is much higher in matcha vs green tea.
When we say green tea, normally what comes to mind is not matcha. There is good reason for this, as matcha is very different from your average green tea when it comes to production, taste and health benefits. I hope this guide has helped you understand the differences between matcha vs green tea.
If you would like to try some matcha for yourself, you can find a great selection at nioteas. After traveling around Japan for the past few years, we have met with dozens of different tea farmers and sampled hundreds of different matcha teas. We’ve ultimately decided on a small handful of our favorites, and we’re so excited to share them with all of you. Try a few out for yourself and let us know what you think!