Matcha Green Tea: From its origins to its benefits and Risks.

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably heard of matcha but might not be entirely sure what it is.

Or maybe you’ve seen it popping up more and more often on menus and in stores, and you’re curious about what the fuss is all about.

Either way, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about matcha: what it is, where it comes from, how it’s made, and what makes it so special.

We’ll also share some of the health benefits associated with matcha consumption, as well as a few recipes so you can start enjoying this delicious and nutritious drink for yourself!

So, without further ado, let’s dive in and learn all about matcha.

Table of Contents

What’s Matcha?

Matcha tea originates from the camellia Sinensis plant, just like all other true teas. This plant can also produce green tea (unfermented; produced by steaming and drying the leaves), oolong tea (partially fermented; achieved by allowing the leaves to partially oxidize), and black tea (fully fermented).

While matcha is technically a green tea, it differs significantly in taste from others of its kind because of various growth, harvest, and production methods.

The leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant are shade-grown for about three weeks and then dried. Once they’re dried, the stems and veins are removed and the leaves are stone-ground into a fine powder.

Matcha Origins

Matcha originated in China and was first used as a medicinal drink. It eventually made its way to Japan in the 12th century, where it became popular among the Buddhist monks who used it to stay alert during long hours of meditation. Matcha quickly became a part of the Tea ceremony and Japanese culture and is now enjoyed by people of all ages.

Matcha vs. Green Tea

One of the most common questions we get asked is “what’s the difference between matcha and green tea?” While both beverages are made from the same plant, there are a few key differences. First of all, matcha is made from shade-grown leaves, while green tea can be made from either shade-grown or sun-grown leaves.

Additionally, the leaves used to make matcha are ground into a fine powder, whereas green tea leaves are simply steeped in hot water. Finally, matcha contains more caffeine than green tea because you consume the entire leaf when drinking it.

Here’s more information about the differences between green tea and matcha:

Matcha:

  • Shade-grown tea leaves are used to make this.
  • The leaves are steamed and then crushed into a fine powder.
  • High in caffeine and antioxidants
  • Matcha has a delicate, creamy taste with subtle tastes of umami and bitterness.

Green Tea:

  • Originally grown in China, but is now also cultivated in countries like Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
  • To prevent oxidation, leaves are either cooked in a pan or steamed.
  • You can prepare green tea by infusing it in a pot or cup.
  • Low in caffeine but high in antioxidants
  • Different varieties of tea might have different tastes, from delicate and fruity to robust and grassy.

Matcha Taste

Matcha has a unique taste that is often described as grassy or earthy. Some people also detect a slight sweetness or umami flavour. The exact taste of matcha will vary depending on the quality of the powder and how it is prepared. For example, lower-quality matcha may have a more bitter taste, while higher-quality matcha will be more smooth and sweet.

Read also: 6 Reasons why your Matcha tastes bitter and how to solve it

How Matcha is Produced?

Not only is matcha production a delicate task, but it is also an art form. The below guide explains the matcha production process from beginning to end – from when the tea leaves are harvested on the farm to when you receive your bowl or cup of green tea powder. This guide will also help explain why matcha powder tends to be more expensive than other types of green teas.

1. Shade Grown: The matcha journey begins on the farm where the Camellia sinensis plant is grown. For about three weeks before harvest, the tea plants are covered with large cloths or reed mats to protect them from direct sunlight. This process increases chlorophyll production (which gives matcha its vibrant green colour) and amino acid content (which contributes to matcha’s umami flavour).

2. Harvested by Hand: Once the tea leaves have reached the desired level of chlorophyll and amino acid production, they are carefully hand-picked to avoid damage. This is typically done in the early morning hours when the leaves are at their freshest.

3. Steamed: Immediately after harvest, the tea leaves are steamed to stop oxidation and preserve their colour and flavour.

4. Dried: The steamed leaves are then dried and rolled into small pellets.

5. De-veined and De-stemmed: The next step in the process is to remove the veins and stems from the tea leaves. This is done by passing the leaves through a series of sieves.

6. Stone Ground: The final step in the matcha production process is stone grinding. This is typically done with a granite stone mill and can take up to an hour to grind just 30 grams of matcha powder!

Grades of Matcha

Deciding how to use matcha is the first step in your journey to enjoying its unique flavour. Will you drink it as tea? Add it to recipes like smoothies or baking goods. The possibilities are endless!

There are two types of matcha tea: ceremonial and culinary.

Ceremonial Matcha:

The highest quality pure matcha powder is used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and has a bright green colour and smooth texture.

The ceremonial grade is only used for one purpose: drinking. It’s the finest quality tea grade. This type of matcha is usually more expensive due to its limited production and the care that goes into making it.

Culinary Grade Matcha

The culinary grade, or food grade, of matcha, isn’t a low-quality tea by any means. This form of matcha green tea is simply prepared and has various applications and tastes than ceremonial grade. Culinary grade is usually used in the kitchen and bakery.

Culinary is further broken down into five grades–premium, cafe, ingredient, kitchen, and classic.

Deep Dive: Here’s Your simple guide to different Matcha Grades

Ingredients of Matcha

Matcha powder is made entirely from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The main ingredients in matcha are:

Catechins

Green tea gets its distinct astringent taste from tannins. In addition to being antioxidants and having antibacterial properties, they also act as detoxifiers.

Caffeine

The caffeine found in green tea acts as a stimulant while also helping to relieve stress. It can also improve mental alertness and cognitive function.

L-Theanine

This amino acid is unique to green tea and is responsible for its umami (savoury) taste. L-theanine also has calming and relaxing effects, which helps to offset the stimulating effects of caffeine.

Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is a pigment that gives plants their green colour. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that can help to detoxify the body.

Vitamins and Minerals

Matcha is a good source of vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Saponins

The anti-inflammatory properties of green tea are due to this special ingredient.

Nutrition Facts: The Caffeine Content in Matcha

One of the most common questions people have about matcha is how much caffeine it contains. Matcha does contain caffeine, but the amount varies depending on the type of matcha and how it is prepared.

For example, ceremonial-grade matcha contains more caffeine than culinary-grade matcha. This is because the ceremonial grade is made from young tea leaves, which have higher caffeine content.

Generally speaking, matcha powder contains about 35mg of caffeine per serving. This is less than a cup of coffee, which typically contains around 95mg of caffeine.

Matcha also contains a type of amino acid known as L-theanine. This amino acid helps to offset the effects of caffeine, resulting in more mellow and relaxed energy.

Health Benefits of Matcha Tea

The nutrients from the entire tea leaf are included in matcha, resulting in more caffeine and antioxidants than green tea.

Several health benefits have been discovered for matcha, including that it can help protect the liver, promote heart health, and even aid in weight reduction.

Here are seven health advantages of matcha tea, all based on research.

1. High in antioxidants

Matcha is loaded with antioxidants like catechins, polyphenols, and flavonoids., which are substances that help to protect the cells from damage.

2. Boosts metabolism and helps with weight loss

One of the most well-known benefits of matcha is its ability to boost metabolism and burn fat.

This is due to the nutrients it contains, including caffeine and catechins.

3. Improves hair growth

Matcha also contains a nutrient called EGCG, which has been shown to promote hair growth.

4. Enhances cognitive function and memory

Matcha tea has also been found to improve cognitive function and memory. This is most likely due to the presence of caffeine and L-theanine, an amino acid contained in matcha.

5. Helps the skin

Matcha is also beneficial for the skin due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

It has been shown to help protect the skin from damage caused by UV rays, pollution, and other environmental stressors.

6. Reduces stress and promotes relaxation

The amino acid L-theanine, which is found in matcha, has been shown to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

7. Improves stomach and gut health

One overlooked benefit of matcha are its positive effects on gut health. This is because it’s prebiotic, which means that it helps good bacteria to grow in the gut.

Does Matcha Have Any Side Effects?

Matcha is generally safe for most people to consume. However, some people may experience side effects such as headaches, dizziness, or upset stomach. If you experience any of these side effects, it is best to discontinue use and consult a healthcare professional.

It is also worth mentioning that matcha contains caffeine and some people may be sensitive to this. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid matcha as there is not enough research to determine if it’s safe.

It’s also important to note that matcha should not be used as a replacement for medical treatment. If you’re considering using matcha for its health benefits, it’s best to speak with your doctor first.

Read also: Health Risks of Matcha tea: We answer 21 of your questions

How to Make Matcha Green Tea?

Now that we’ve gone over the health benefits and side effects of matcha, let’s learn how to make it!

Here’s what you will need: A teaspoon of matcha powder, 1 cup of hot water (not boiling), A bamboo whisk or an electric frother

Instructions:

1) Sift 1 teaspoon of matcha powder into a cup or mug.

2) Add 2 ounces (60 ml) of hot water over the powder and whisk until the powder is completely dissolved.

3) After it becomes free of clumps pour the rest of the hot water into the cup. If you are using an electric frother, froth the tea until it becomes foamy.

4) sweeten your match with sugar or honey.

And that’s it! You’ve now made a cup of delicious and healthy matcha green tea. Enjoy!

You can also add milk or a milk alternative (such as almond milk), lemon, or other fruits to your tea if you desire. or try different drinks like iced matcha or matcha latte. feel free to experiment and find a flavour that you like best.

Read also: A barista Guide: How to get rid of Matcha clumps?

Bottom line

We hope you enjoyed learning everything there is to know about matcha! This delicious drink is not only incredibly healthy but also incredibly versatile; it can be enjoyed hot or cold, sweetened or unsweetened. So next time you’re looking for a healthy beverage option, be sure to give matcha a try!

FAQs

Is matcha stronger than caffeine?

If you’re thinking about changing from coffee to matcha, know that in general, a cup of matcha contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee. Depending on the normal strength of your coffee, your average cup of matcha could have 25 to 130 fewer grams of caffeine.

Matcha also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to counteract the effects of caffeine and improve mental alertness.

What does matcha green tea taste like?

Some say that matcha tastes like a cross between spinach and grass. Others say that it has a slightly sweet, vegetal flavour. Ultimately, the taste of matcha will vary depending on the quality of the powder and how it’s prepared.

For example, ceremonial-grade matcha contains more caffeine than culinary-grade matcha. This is because the ceremonial grade is made from young tea leaves, which have higher caffeine content.

Is Matcha Vegan?

Keep in mind that not all matcha on the market is vegan-friendly, even though it should be. If you’re unsure about a specific brand, check the ingredient list to ensure there are no animal products included.

It’s best if the label just says “100 per cent stone-ground matcha green tea,” with no mention of milk (and sugar). Many goods include milk (and sugar) without including an indication of this on the label, which may render them problematic for vegans.

It is also important to know that, depending on your dietary preferences, you might avoid produce that came into contact with animal by-products during fertilization. If this is the case for you, opt for ceremonial matcha that has the USDA Organic label; this type does not use fishmeal during cultivation.

Is Matcha Good For Detox?

Yes, matcha is a great detoxifier because it’s rich in antioxidants. These nutrients help to remove toxins from the body and improve overall health. Additionally, matcha has been shown to boost metabolism and promote weight loss, both of which are important for detoxification.

is it safe to drink Matcha every day?

Yes, it is safe to drink matcha every day. However, you should start with one cup per day and gradually increase your intake as desired. If you experience any side effects, such as headaches or dizziness, it is best to discontinue use and consult a healthcare professional.

Will matcha keep you awake?

Matcha contains caffeine, so it may keep you awake if you drink it before bed. However, matcha also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which has been shown to promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. So while matcha may keep you awake, it may also help you relax and fall asleep more easily.

If you are sensitive to caffeine or want to avoid its effects, it is best to drink matcha in the morning or afternoon. Matcha can also be enjoyed decaffeinated; just be sure to check the label to make sure the powder is truly decaffeinated and not just low in caffeine.

Is Matcha Good For You?

Yes, matcha is good for you! Matcha is rich in antioxidants and has numerous health benefits, including improved metabolism, better cognitive function, and reduced stress levels. Matcha can also help to detoxify the body and promote weight loss.