Let's take an in-depth look at matcha vs. green tea. Yes, technically matcha is stone-ground powdered green tea. But we cannot take the green tea leaves we have sitting in our cupboard and grind those up. Matcha tea processing is a complex tradition that is hundreds, even thousands, years old. The amount of people who know how to process matcha vs. those who process other types of green tea is quite limited. Even the tea leaves that farmers use for preparing the powder require special growth conditions. So let's discuss what makes both matcha powder and Japanese green tea so unique in their own way.
Brief History of Tea In Japan
Tea was first brought over to Japan by Japanese Buddhist monks in the 7th century, although it didn't entirely catch on until the late 1100s.
During the time, in Tang Dynasty China, people would primarily consume tea in its powdered form. Loose leaf green tea, typically sencha, didn't make its way into Japanese tea culture until the 17th century when people were looking for a simple way of drinking tea instead of partaking in chanoyu, which was generally available only to the elite.
Nowadays, matcha is not nearly the most common tea in Japan. The majority of people drink sencha, whether it's at home, as a complimentary tea at a restaurant or eatery, or even bottled sencha iced tea from a convenience store.
Sencha is the champion for tea-drinking trends in Japan. 70% of all teas that farmers produce in Japan are sencha green tea.
Matcha has gained its popularity in the form of a nice creamy matcha latte and various baked good. Thus, people rarely practice traditional Japanese matcha tea ceremonies (chanoyu).
Matcha Tea Processing Compared To Green Tea Processing
Farmers shade tea gardens that grow leaves for matcha for several weeks before harvest. This is what gives matcha that characteristic deep green color. Farmers only pick the top leaves, which are the sweetest and richest in nutrients. Not to mention they have higher caffeine content. Consequently, matcha is higher in caffeine than green tea like sencha.
After harvesting the tea leaves for matcha production, farmers dry, carefully de-vein and de-stem them by hand. Only then will the long and slow stone-grinding process begin.
On the other hand, farmers grow Sencha in the sunlight. Then they harvest the new shoots, leaves, and stems. After harvest, they briefly steam sencha to preserve its potent green color and fresh vegetal taste.
Matcha Benefits vs Green Tea Benefits
When it comes to health, matcha benefits have green tea beat.
For example, one serving of Japanese matcha green tea contains:
- 10 times the antioxidants of a serving of green tea
- 5 times more L-theanine, which improves our focus and creativity
- 15 times more vitamin c
- 80 times the protein
Overall, drinking 1 cup of matcha is pretty much the equivalent of drinking 10 cups of sencha. This is because when we drink sencha, we only drink whatever got infused into the water from the tea leaves, while in the case of matcha, we are consuming the whole tea leaf.
For this reason, it is essential to always pay extra attention to the source of your matcha powder and buy organic whenever possible.
Matcha vs Green Tea Caffeine
Does matcha have caffeine? Yes! Since matcha is a type of green tea, it naturally has some caffeine. In fact, since the whole tea leaf is used for matcha preparation, matcha caffeine content is actually higher than any other green tea caffeine content. While in general a loose leaf green tea might contain about 10-15% caffeine of a cup of coffee, matcha can contain anywhere up to half. Read more.
Comparing The Price
One gram of organic matcha is 36 cents, while one gram of Asamushi Sencha is 25 cents. When comparing this way, sencha is cheaper. However, the preparation method is often overlooked when comparing the two types of green tea.
For one serving of sencha, we use 6 grams of tea leaves, while we use only 1 gram for a serving of matcha. For most, having one serving of matcha per day is enough. Read more.