What Is Matcha Tea?

If you’re like me, a middle class white kid from the suburbs—and, honestly, let’s pray that you’re not—then your first experience with any sort of tea was most likely the bright, sweet taste of Arizona Iced Tea. My aunt used to keep a mini fridge stocked full of them, and it was a treat whenever I was over at her house to grab a can and enjoy it by her pool. 

Arizona, of course, makes green tea, which at first was far too strange and exotic flavor for me to sample. However, eventually I gave in, and discovered that its more complex mix of flavors was delicious. I’ve been a fan ever since.

That, however, is about as far as I’ve made it into the world of green tea. So, I must confess I was something of a matcha novice before writing this article. Join me, won’t you, to uncover the mysteries of matcha tea.

What is matcha tea?

According to a pop-up I got on Matcha.com, Dr. Andrew Weil, the co-founder of the website, calls Matcha “a guide between the body and mind.” But let’s get a little more specific. Matcha tea is a ground powder made from a specially planted and treated type of green tea leaves. 

Is matcha green tea?

Yes, all matcha is green tea, but not all green tea is matcha. Matcha is made from ground green tea leaves, as noted above. It tends to be made with a higher quality of green tea and is therefore more expensive than your average green tea.

What is matcha made of?

Matcha is made from a powdered form of green tea leaves, which are known as tencha. These are harvested from shade-grown Camellia Sinensis. The leaves are steamed, then dried, and ground into a powder. 

Does matcha have caffeine?

Yes, matcha has a fair amount of caffeine in it, so expect a little buzz if you’re imbibing any. 

How much caffeine is in matcha?

There’s around 60-70 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup. By contrast, black tea contains around 45-50 mg of caffeine in the same sized cup.

What does matcha taste like?

Matcha is, of course, green tea, so expect a similar flavor profile. It’s bitter and grassy. However, matcha has a noticeably richer flavor than your standard green tea, with more of an umami-packed flavor profile. Also, because it’s usually mixed with water or milk instead of steeped, matcha tea can have a thicker consistency. 

What is matcha good for?

Because green tea is rich in antioxidants, matcha tea is considered to have some potential health benefits. Health Line breaks down some of these, such as potentially helping to improve cognitive function and decrease risk of cancer and liver related issues. But beyond the possible health benefits, matcha is also good for tea, lattes, flavoring desserts such as ice cream and mochi, and more. Because matcha is a powder rather than leaves that need to be steeped, it’s much easier to cook with than other green teas. 

How to make matcha? 

In order to cultivate matcha, you must harvest the leaves from a shaded green tea plant, then powder the leaves. It’s a process with strict regulation. However, if you want to know how to use matcha powder once you have it in your possession, that’s a little easier. Essentially, you whisk the powder into hot milk or water, and enjoy from there. 

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

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