Matcha Powder vs Green Tea: What’s the Difference?
Green tea is an antioxidant powerhouse and one of the most popular drinks in the world. You’ve probably also heard of matcha, a superstar varietal of green tea that provides incredible health benefits.
What exactly is the difference between matcha and green tea?
What is Green Tea?
Green tea is a brewed drink that’s been around for thousands of years.
It comes from the powerful Camellia sinensis plant. Tea made from this plant can be categorized into three types based on the level of oxidation: black tea (oxidized), oolong tea (partially oxidized), and green tea (non-oxidized).
Green tea’s non-oxidized leaves give the drink a lighter color and gentler flavor than its other tea cousins. It can be served loose leaf, in tea bags, or as an ingredient in various traditional recipes.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a type of green tea.
Instead of being served in dried leaf form, it is served as a fine ground whole-leaf powder. It typically has a deep, lush green color.
What Makes Matcha Different from Green Tea?
The key difference is in how these two teas are grown and harvested.
Matcha is derived from the same plant as green tea, but is cultivated through a different process. Matcha tea bushes are shielded from the sun, keeping them in total shade for up to 30 days before being harvested. This sustained shade triggers an increase in chlorophyll levels as the plant grows and develops, making the leaves turn a distinct shade of dark green. This process also triggers an increase in the production of amino acids.
After the matcha tea is harvested, the plant’s stems and leaves are ground into a fine powder. Because the whole plant is used to make matcha, this vibrant powder has even more robust health benefits than traditional green tea. And that’s saying something!
What are the Health Benefits of Matcha?
It all starts with catechins.
Catechins are a type of plant compound present in several varieties of tea, and they drive many of the health benefits of the popular drink. Catechins are known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive, anti-diabetic, anti-bacterial, and even anti-viral effects in the body. The more catechins, the better!
In green tea, catechin content is as high as 80% to 90%. For comparison, the catechin content of black tea is only around 20–30%.
Some of the benefits of green tea include:
- Lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol
- Reducing the risk of heart disease
- Reducing inflammation in the body
- Reducing the risk of stroke
- Soothing anxiety
- Helping fight allergies
The impact of green tea on heart health is particularly powerful. In a study of over 40,000 middle-aged adults that took place over 11 years, those who drank two or more cups of green tea per day reduced their risk of cardiovascular death by 22-33% compared to those that drank only a half-cup or less per day.
Matcha may be even more powerful than traditional green tea due to the fact that it is formulated as a whole-leaf powder, offering additional nutrient density. One study indicates that matcha may have as many as 137 times more EGCG catechins than traditional green tea.
Can Matcha Give you a Brain Boost?
Matcha offers amazing cognitive benefits to give you additional energy and brain power throughout your day.
Matcha and green tea both offer a clean, non-jittery boost of caffeine, but matcha has almost twice as much caffeine per cup than regular green tea, keeping you alert longer.
But don’t worry, this won’t send your anxiety sky-high like other forms of caffeine! Unlike coffee, soda, or energy drinks, matcha contains the calming compound L-theanine. This is the secret chill ingredient that keeps everything mellow. With this compound hard at work, matcha will give you a much-needed energy boost without the jitters.
Cognitive Benefits of Matcha
Matcha is also known for its positive effects on your brain power, in particular enhancing cognitive functions and improving your memory. It can even increase the generation of brain cells.
Go ahead and get your matcha fix! It could boost your brain and your day.