The tradition of drinking matcha dates back at least a thousand years. Matcha is made from green tea leaves — specifically the Camellia sinensis plant — but is green tea powder and matcha the same thing?
It’s common for western people to use the words matcha and green tea powder interchangeably, but there are actually several differences between the two. In this article, I’ll break down the differences between green tea powder and matcha and the ways that you can use them at home!
Quick answer: No, they’re not the same thing, although some companies use the terms interchangeably.
What is Green Tea Powder?
Green tea powder — which is different from matcha — is most commonly made from sencha leaves that are grown in an open-air environment for the entire growing season. Green tea powder often utilizes any leftover leaves when they are sent to be pulverized into powder form.
Some manufacturers use the term “matcha green tea powder” on their labels, but in reality this is just matcha powder. Generally, green tea powder has a more bitter taste than matcha as it does not go through as much of a strict growing and preparation process that helps to develop its full flavor.
Green tea powder is also most often used in cooking and baking, where additional ingredients can be added to enhance the flavor.
Green Tea Powder Benefits
Both green tea powder and matcha may have similar health benefits. However, since the leaves that are used to make green tea powder aren’t subjected to such strict quality control, it can be argued that matcha has more benefits.
Some of the claimed benefits of green tea powder include:
- Antioxidant properties
- Helping with weight loss
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Helping to lower high cholesterol
- Assistance in preventing neurodegenerative diseases
Despite their differences, if you choose to drink either green tea powder or matcha, both are likely better choices than consuming something high in sugar and other additives.
How to Use Green Tea Powder
As mentioned above, the best way to use green tea powder is by using it for cooking or baking. You could also add it into your smoothies to give it an extra boost of antioxidants.
Because green tea powder tends to be more bitter than matcha, it’s not recommended to drink it by itself unless you do prefer a more bitter flavor. It also may be a bit more difficult to properly whisk it into a drink due to the preparation and grinding method of the tea leaves.
What is Matcha?
Matcha also comes from the Camellia sinensis tea plant, but there are several differences with growing, harvesting, and preparing matcha that makes it taste buttery and sweet all on its own.
The leaves that are selected to make matcha are called tencha. During the cultivation process, the leaves of the plant are placed under the shade an average of 20 days before harvesting as that not only encourages the plant to grow more chlorophyll, but also helps to preserve the calming and focusing effects of L-theanine.
When the leaves are harvested, the stems and veins of the leaves are also removed. This process gives the matcha a smooth texture from removing the tougher parts of the plants that would normally have been left on with green tea powder.
After the leaves are dried, another critical difference between green tea and matcha powder is that matcha is stone-ground, whereas the leaves for green tea powder may be ground by a machine. When the tencha leaves are stone-ground, it produces a much finer powder than can easily be whisked into a beautiful froth.
The Benefits of Matcha
Matcha shares many of the benefits that pure leaf green tea and green tea powder have, but in higher concentrations due to the careful growing and harvesting processes.
The higher level of effort that goes into producing matcha also leads to higher levels of caffeine, chlorophyll, theanine, and antioxidant catechins. The most prevalent antioxidant in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate and is found to have higher levels in matcha compared to other forms of green tea.
Additional benefits of matcha may include:
● Reducing stress and increasing focus
● Comparable caffeine levels to a cup of coffee
● Helping to lower inflammation
● Anti-aging properties
● Preventing the growth of gut and stomach tumors
Of course, it’s important to always check with your doctor if you have any health concerns, but as a daily drink of choice for many people around the world, matcha is an excellent choice.
How to Make Matcha
The most traditional way to make matcha is by using a small preparation bowl and a bamboo whisk, but if you don’t have a bamboo whisk, that’s okay! Below, we’ll tell you how you can prepare matcha at home.
- If possible, try to buy genuine matcha powder. This will make a huge difference in both texture and taste.
- Heat up water, but don’t let it boil. For matcha, you only need hot water, not boiling water.
- Add a teaspoon of matcha powder to a bowl or mug and add about a tablespoon of hot water. Break up and mix the matcha clumps with a fork until it’s dissolved into a smooth paste.
- Continue to add your desired amount of water.
- Enjoy your matcha!
Matcha Latte Recipe
If you enjoy drinking sweet and creamy matcha lattes at cafes and are wondering how you can make one at home, I’ve got you covered. You don’t need to spend your hard earned money when you can make drinks just the way you like them from your own kitchen!
To make a matcha latte:
- Follow the steps 1 to 3 from above, including sourcing true matcha powder and dissolving the powder in a little bit of water.
- If you would like, you can add any sweeteners or additional flavors at this stage.
- To make a latte, don’t fill your mug all the way up with water. Ideally, leave at least half of the mug empty for the milk.
- Get your milk of choice and froth it. If you don’t have an automatic milk frother, you can buy a handheld milk frother, or use the mason jar method of heating the milk in the microwave, screwing on the lid, and shaking it for a minute to create the foam.
- Pour your milk into the mug with the matcha.
- If desired, you can sprinkle some extra matcha powder on top for decoration.
- You’re done!
Conclusion: Is Green Tea Powder and Matcha the Same Thing?
No, green tea powder is not the same as matcha powder, although some manufacturers call their product matcha green tea powder to add to the confusion.
Green tea powder is often made from sencha leaves that are grown in an open-air environment for the entire growing season.
On the other hand, matcha is made from tencha leaves and has a very precise process for its production resulting in its vibrant green color and smoother flavor. Some examples of this precise process include hand picking the leaves at a specific time and stone-grinding down the leaves into a fine powder.