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What is Matcha, how does it compare to coffee and what does it taste like?

Meet Matcha; the next level of green tea

The world of tea is a rich, vivid, and colorful place. Many undoubtedly have heard of green tea, but what about green tea’s more advanced and premium form, Matcha. But to understand Matcha, we will look at some of the unique traits that make Matcha an exquisite mode of tea. For example, what is Matcha? What does it taste like? Also, how does it compare to other caffeinated drinks like traditional green tea or coffee? Keep reading to learn more about Matcha.

What is Matcha?

To begin, Matcha is green tea. But the way it is produced is slightly different from the green tea you will find in a bag of Lipton’s. 

For starters, most Matcha comes from premium green tea plants grown in superb conditions. These conditions include high elevation, regular rain and cloud coverage, high humidity, cool temperatures, and porous soil high in nutrients that allow for proper drainage.

Some plants are even grown under artificial shade, which allows the leaves to undergo a chemical change that concentrates nutrients and converts more astringent flavors into more umami ones. Once the leaves are ready to be picked, they experience a unique mode of processing compared to standard green tea. 

First, the leaves are dried. Once dried, the veins, twigs, and any other harder elements of the leaves are painstakingly removed. Then, the leaves are pulverized after dried and become incredibly brittle. From here, the Matcha will be graded. 

Though the grades are somewhat fluid, they generally encompass 3 main tiers of matcha grading. The ceremonial grade is the highest level. This Matcha is expensive and used almost exclusively for formal Japanese Tea Ceremonies.

Next is culinary grade. Slightly less expensive, this grade is for more general match tea preparation and can be used in preparing confectionery treats. The third grade of Matcha is ingredient grade. This grade can be acquired much more easily and affordably compared to the other two grades.

Despite being the third grade of Matcha, it can still be whisked and enjoyed as tea and used to prepare confections. But since we have mentioned consuming Matcha, some readers may be wondering what Matcha tastes like.

What does Matcha taste like?

Though Matcha is prepared from green tea leaves, to say matcha “tastes like green tea” would certainly be an understatement. Yes, the flavors are similar, but because matcha tea is such a powerfully concentrated form of green tea, the flavors, aroma, and even the effects one feels in their body and mind are much more potent, vivid, and rich. 

Good quality matcha that has been adequately whisked to achieve the nice foamy head possesses a deep, rich, vegetal flavor akin to green tea with some grassy and umami flavors. Few other caffeinated beverages can rival an expertly whisked and prepared bowl of Matcha. However, the first sip usually awakens and innervates in a way that traditional green tea cannot match.

What is actually in Matcha?

Matcha powder

Matcha is a genuinely healthy and beneficial mode of caffeine because the only ingredients are; green tea. That is right; Matcha is only made from the pulverized and powdered remains of green tea leaves. No artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners make Matcha a super drink to promote proper health. 

But on a more molecular level, Matcha has a lot in it. Many great health-enhancing vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and amino acids exist. Here are some of Matcha’s components and health benefits, including:

  • Antioxidants
  • Catechins like the potent Epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG
  • Tannins
  • L-theanine
  • Caffeine
  • Vitamin C
  • Chromium
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Some studies have found that Matcha may have beneficial effects on our cholesterol and liver, helps to burn calories, regulate metabolism, and may help to prevent certain types of cancer and other ailments.

How does matcha powder compare to green tea?

Matcha powder is concentrated green tea. This is significant because any flavor or health effects we can expect with standard loose leaf or tea bag green tea are highly elevated and more potent, too. This is because we consume the whole leaf in a bowl of Matcha rather than just the immersed liquor from the entire leaf or baggy tea. 

Regarding caffeine, Matcha also packs more due to how highly concentrated it is. A standard 8 oz cup of green tea usually has between 30 to 50 mg of caffeine. But, for Matcha, just one teaspoon of matcha powder will contain about 70 mg of caffeine!

However, those interested in swapping their standard green for Matcha should be aware Matcha requires some special utensils and preparation to enjoy it properly. Things like a bamboo whisk are indispensable, and you will usually have to serve, crush, and whisk your tea all by hand. 

Properly preparing and whisking a bowl of Matcha is easily one of the most stress-relieving and satisfying ways to caffeinate. The extra utensils and hands-on prep are worth it!

How does matcha tea compare to coffee?

Compared to green tea, Matcha is a true powerhouse, but how about compared to java? Coffee also hosts lots of antioxidants and health-promoting effects, but one of the critical things that place Matcha above coffee is that Matcha possesses L-theanine. This amino acid helps to calm and soothe us. It counteracts the adverse side effects of caffeine like jitters and impatience and even protects us from the caffeine crash. 

In terms of caffeine, coffee possesses more with about 90 mg of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup of coffee versus the 70 mg of caffeine a teaspoon of Matcha contains. But, again, it is possible to match coffee’s caffeine levels with Matcha by using higher volumes of Matcha, for example, two teaspoons. 

Discover Matcha; a better way to caffeinate

 As with many things, the best way to truly discover Matcha is to try it firsthand. Matcha is healthy, refreshing, innervating, electrifying, calming, and fun to prepare. If you are already a tea lover, adding Matcha to your repertoire will maximize your tea drinking. On the other hand, if you are a hard-core coffee lover, give Matcha a try when you are feeling the jitters or would like to give this incredible tea mode a chance instead. Then, you may find your new pick-me-up.

What Matcha does Starbucks use?

Starbucks doesn’t disclose its exact matcha powder source, and the information available is speculation. Starbucks does disclose that they get their Matcha from high-quality farm suppliers in Japan, but beyond that, they don’t share details anymore.

How much matcha should I use per cup?

Generally, one teaspoon of Matcha per cup of water is sufficient. However, this can vary depending on the desired strength of flavor. For a more intense flavor, more Matcha can be added. Conversely, for a milder flavor, less powder can be used. Once the desired amount of Matcha has been added, the powder should be whisked until it is completely dissolved. If the correct proportion of powder to water is maintained, anyone can enjoy a delicious cup of Matcha.

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Culturalist Press Staff

The Culturalist Press’ mission is to be a place for useful, informed, and relevant writing. Our goal is to be clear, concise, and refreshingly straightforward in our coverage of topics. We champion organizations focused on fact-based journalism as we ourselves are while trying to stay focused on covering topics that matter to everyone.Staff pieces: