When it comes to tea, two popular varieties that highlight the difference between matcha and green tea stand out: matcha and green tea. Both hold their own in terms of flavor and potential health benefits. However, despite their similarities, matcha and green tea have distinct characteristics that set them apart. So, which do you choose?
The truth is, there’s likely a place for both green tea and matcha in your life, but it’s reasonable to want to understand their unique benefits, flavor profiles, and preparation methods before diving into either one. So, follow us as we break down everything you need to know about the differences in matcha vs green tea.
Table of Contents
Matcha and green tea are sourced from the same plant, but are cultivated and prepared differently.
Both have similar effects and benefits, but matcha’s benefits may be more concentrated.
Their taste profiles, caffeine content, and preparation methods vary greatly, so preference plays a huge role in choosing the best tea for you.
What is Matcha?
Matcha, a powdered green tea, has a rich history deeply rooted in Japanese tea ceremonies. Traditionally, matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The process involves covering the tea plants for several weeks before harvest, which enhances the chlorophyll content and gives matcha its vibrant green hue.
After harvesting, the leaves are steamed, dried, and ground into a fine powder using stone mills. This powder is then whisked into hot water, creating a frothy and invigorating beverage.
This is a clear distinction from other types of green tea because the entire tea leaf is blended into the tea and consumed. The leaves are not steeped and strained away. This leads to increased therapeutic effects due to a higher intake of antioxidants, flavonoids, and amino acids, especially when you drink matcha or green tea. It also creates a thicker, frothy beverage with a richer flavor than traditional green tea.Distinctive Characteristics of Matcha
Matcha possesses several unique characteristics that set it apart from other types of tea:
- Vibrant Green Color: Matcha stands out with its brilliant green color, a result of the shade-grown process and the high concentration of chlorophyll in the tea leaves.
- Powdered Form: Unlike green tea, which is consumed by steeping tea leaves, matcha is finely ground into a bright green powder. This allows for the ingestion of the entire leaf, making it more potent.
- Instant mix: Matcha, because it is powdered, does not need to be steeped, marking a significant difference between matcha and the traditional tea is made. That means it can be instantly whipped into hot or cold water to create a quick beverage. It can also be customized with creams and sweeteners to create matcha lattes and other unique beverages.
- Higher Caffeine Content: Due to the consumption of the whole tea leaf, matcha contains higher levels of caffeine than green tea. However, the effect is balanced by an amino acid called L-theanine, which promotes relaxation and mental clarity.
- Unique Flavor Profile: Matcha has a distinct umami taste, which is often described as a combination of vegetal, grassy, and slightly sweet flavors. The taste can vary depending on the grade of matcha and the quality of the tea leaves.
What is Green Tea?
Green tea, like matcha, originates from the Camellia sinensis plant. However, unlike matcha, green tea is produced from tea leaves that are either pan-fried, steamed, or dehydrated. The cooking process helps to prevent oxidation, preserving the tea's natural green color and delicate flavors.
Green tea is usually sold in loose-leaf form or in bags. The tea leaves are meant to be steeped and then strained away, leaving behind a delicate infusion of its earthy flavor. The amount of time you steep the tea and the water temperatures used to steep it changes its flavor and can alter the notes of sweetness or bitter, earthy undertones you get from a brew. In traditional cultures, there are precise methods for brewing hot green tea, but it can really vary based on preference.
Key Features of Green Tea
Let's take a closer look at the distinctive features of green tea:
- Leaf Form: Green tea is primarily available in loose leaf form, although tea bags are also widely popular. The leaves are infused in hot water to extract their flavors and health benefits.
- Lower Caffeine Content: Compared to matcha, green tea generally contains less caffeine. This makes it an ideal choice for those who want a milder energy boost.
- Varied Flavor Profiles: Green teas come in a wide range of flavor profiles, from light and grassy to nutty or floral, depending on factors such as the tea cultivar, growing region, and processing methods.
- Health Benefits: Like matcha, green tea is revered for its potential health benefits, including antioxidant properties, metabolism boosting effects, and potential risk reduction for certain diseases.
Health Benefits of Matcha vs Green Tea
Both matcha and green tea offer a plethora of health benefits, thanks to their rich nutritional profiles and active compounds. The effects of each are similar, but there are some distinct differences between the two. Let's explore some of the potential advantages associated with these teas:
1. Antioxidant Boost
Matcha and green tea are abundant sources of antioxidants, particularly catechins. These potent compounds help protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals and may contribute to various health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
According to one study, green tea contains significantly more antioxidants than black tea. 200 mL of green tea (approximately 6.7 ounces) was found to have an antioxidant capacity of around 436 milligrams, compared to only 239 milligrams in black tea.
Some sources suggest that the antioxidant content of matcha is up to 137 times higher than some low quality tea brands, and even 3 times higher than leading brands.
2. Boosts Metabolism and Aids Weightloss
Research suggests that both matcha and green tea may support weight management and boost metabolism. The combination of caffeine and catechins in these teas has been linked to increased calorie burning and improved fat oxidation.
In one study consisting of 13 female participants, consuming matcha before a brisk walk was linked to enhanced fat burning. In general, research has confirmed that there is a link between EGCG and increased fat burning, though the limited evidence makes it difficult to say how much of an impact it may have on overall weight loss.
Read “Matcha for Weight Loss” to learn more.
3. Calming Effects and Cognition Boost
Green tea and matcha both contain a unique amino acid called L-theanine, which promotes relaxation and mental clarity. This compound, coupled with caffeine, provides a balanced and sustained energy boost without the jitters commonly associated with coffee consumption. Both caffeine and L-Theanine are considered nootropics, or compounds that can positively regulate your neurotransmitter balance to improve overall cognition.
The shading techniques used to grow matcha paired with the fact that the entire tea leaf is consumed means that matcha contains significantly more caffeine and L-theanine than regular green tea. In fact, matcha contains up to five times as much L-theanine as regular green tea (20 mg vs 4 mg). For this reason, matcha is widely considered a nootropic superfood that can enhance focus and mental clarity.
4. Supports Heart Health
Regular consumption of matcha tea and green tea has been associated with improved cardiovascular health. The catechins found in these teas may help lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, a benefit of green tea that matcha may also offer. and stroke.
5. Potential Cancer-Fighting Properties
The high antioxidant content of matcha and green tea has been the focus of numerous studies investigating their potential anti-cancer effects. Some research suggests that the catechins in these teas may help inhibit the growth of cancer cells and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
For now, there’s not much research to compare the anti-cancer potential of matcha vs green tea. However, since matcha is known to provide a higher catechin dose, it may have increased benefits.
How to Enjoy: Preparing Matcha vs Green Tea
How to Prepare Matcha
To prepare a delicious cup of matcha in the traditional manner, follow these steps:
- Sift the recommended amount (usually 1-2 teaspoons) of matcha powder into a small bowl or mug.
- Add a small amount of hot water (about 2 ounces, ideally around 175 degrees Fahrenheit) to the bowl and whisk vigorously in a zigzag motion until the matcha is fully dissolved and a frothy layer forms on the surface.
- Gradually add more hot water (6-8 ounces) while continuing to whisk until you achieve your desired strength and frothiness.
- Enjoy your matcha straight or add a touch of sweetness with honey or a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Other Matcha Prep Ideas
Although the traditional manner for preparing matcha is ceremonial in some cultures, matcha is also often served in a variety of different ways. You can enjoy matcha hot or cold and with any number of add-ins. Adding milk (plant or dairy based) and sweetener to create a matcha latte is one popular option. Matcha is also often added to baked goods or other recipes to add an umami flavor and brilliant green hue to food goods, showcasing that matcha is a type of ingredient that differs significantly from traditional tea leaves.
How to Prepare Green Tea
To brew a refreshing cup of green tea, follow these steps:
- Bring water to a boil and let it cool for a few minutes until it reaches the desired temperature (around 175°F or 80°C for most green teas).
- Place 1 teaspoon of loose green tea leaves or a tea bag into a cup.
- Pour the hot water over the tea leaves and let it steep for 2-3 minutes to fully enjoy the drink green tea offers.
- Strain the tea leaves or remove the tea bag.
- Sip and savor the flavors of green tea as it rejuvenates your senses.
Other Green Tea Prep Ideas
Green tea's light and delicate flavor makes it the perfect match for various mix-ins. Consider adding citrus fruits, berries, or a touch of your favorite sweetener to your hot cup. Or, chill the tea and enjoy a refreshing cup of iced green tea.
Matcha vs Green Tea: A Final Verdict
In the matcha vs green tea debate, there is no definitive winner. Both teas offer unique characteristics, distinct flavors, and an array of health benefits. Matcha, with its vibrant green color, higher caffeine content, and outstanding health benefits appeals to those seeking a mindful and invigorating experience. On the other hand, green tea, with its versatile flavor profiles and ease of preparation, provides a delightful and accessible way to enjoy the benefits of tea.
If you choose green tea to experience its wellness benefits, especially those surrounding its nootropic effects, let us toss you an idea to kick matcha’s superpowers up a notch: Our Super Matcha formula.
Our instant matcha blend includes an invigorating mix of nootropics + medicinal mushrooms designed to optimize cognitive and physical health. Lucid Super Matcha is all the energy and clarity you need, without the crash you get from regular energy drinks.
Our Lucid formulas include:
- Lion’s Mane (Cognition)
- Cordyceps (Endurance)
- Maitake (Immunity)
- Tremella (Anti-Aging)
- Alpha-GPC (Memory)
- Ginkgo (Cognition)
- BCAAs (Muscular Energy)
- L-Tyrosine (Mood and Focus)
Check out one of our three flavor options: