What is Matcha?

Get all your matcha questions answered with this expansive guide all about matcha green tea. Learn what matcha is, where to buy it, and get tasty matcha recipes.

Matcha green tea photo

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a Japanese green tea that has been finely ground into a powder. In Japanese, “ma” means powder and “cha” means tea so the translation is powered tea.

The green tea that is made into matcha is grown in the shade, limiting sunlight, for about 20 days before harvest.

Tea farmers will build structures to lay out sunlight filtering screens to shade the tea leaves so that it has to work harder to reach sunlight. This shading results in nutrient-heavy and vibrant green colored tea leaves.

After the tea leaves have been picked, they are steamed, dried, then pass through a special machine that removes all the stems and veins. The remaining leaf is then ground into a very fine powder.

Ever wonder why matcha is so much more expensive than other teas out there? It’s all this extra work that’s needed to create the final product.

Where is Matcha Grown?

Real matcha is grown and comes out of Japan — they are THE source and it’s reflected in the price. If you see really cheap matcha, it’s probably coming out of China where the same painstaking tea-making process is definitely not followed.

The lower priced Chinese “matcha” green tea powder is a very poor version of the Japanese real one and  lacks the subtle refined taste and the vibrant green color. It’ll be a very dull green and the taste will also be very underwhelming.

Matcha photo

What Does Matcha Taste Like?

I would describe the taste of matcha as vegetal, slightly bitter, and full-bodied. It’s complex and some even have a somewhat sweet finish.

Because of the main vegetal and slightly bitter taste, matcha is usually served with a sugary bite-sized sweet.

Does Matcha Have Caffeine?

Yes! It has about half the caffeine that’s in coffee.

Caffeine from coffee can cause jitteriness since it’s quickly absorbed into the body. Matcha, on the other hand, has Theanine aside from caffeine, which gives your body a sense of calm.

Matcha Health Benefits

Remember how I mentioned matcha tea leaves goes through a shading process before they are picked? That shading makes matcha high in antioxidants which may protect and prevent the body from damage by lowering health risks.

Matcha is rich in amino acids like Theanine which makes you calm yet alert at the same time. That’s why it’s a great alternative for coffee.

Unlike tea where you would steep in water then remove the tea leaves, with matcha you’re drinking the actual leaves so it’s a lot more potent in terms of caffeine and nutrients.

As for weight loss, helping to fight cancer, or lowering heart disease, I’m super skeptical of this so I wouldn’t recommend matcha as something that can aid in any of those.

Sure, it has antioxidants, but so does blueberries and I wouldn’t say that blueberries are a magical cure-all.

What is matcha photo

Where to Buy the Best Matcha

My favorite places to buy the best matcha.

Matcha Buying Tips

Look at the color
The more vibrant green the matcha is, the better the quality.

Picking a grade

In the US, Ceremonial and cooking grade matcha are labeled for marketing purposes only. Japan doesn’t have those names for their matcha grades. I go by color (if possible to see in person) and by price point when choosing which matcha to get.

For recipes or matcha lattes, get a lower quality ceremonial grade or culinary/cooking grade which should be around $15-$25.

To drink matcha prepared with hot water, get the ceremonial grade which should cost $40-$65.

Go for the real stuff
Get the real Japanese matcha, not the fake, poor quality Chinese versions.

How to Make Matcha

Want to learn how to make traditional matcha at home? I’ve created a step-by-step guide which, with practice, should result in a very nice bowl of matcha.

Matcha Latte Recipe

Looking to make a matcha latte? My tricks and tips on making the best matcha latte you’ve ever had.

Matcha Recipes

Now that you know what matcha exactly is, here are many, many ways to add it into recipes!

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