There are three main benefits of green tea. It is high in antioxidants, which protect against disease and are an important part of any healthy diet. Thanks to its combination of caffeine and L-theanine, green tea could also enhance brain function. Finally, some research has shown that green tea can increase metabolic rate and enhance the body’s ability to burn fat. Thus green tea has been associated with weight loss and preventing obesity.
When Chinese Buddhist monks went to Japan in the 8th century, they took steamed green tea with them. The tea had been pressed into a brick for storage purposes. Whenever a monk wanted a cup of green tea, they broke off a bit of the brick, powdered it and whisked it with water in a bowl. In the centuries that have followed, Japanese tea growers have refined this process and matcha remains a way of life.
Today, matcha tea powder is made from a raw base of tea leaves known as ‘tencha’. Tencha comes from tea bushes that have usually been shaded from mid-April until harvest – this encourages them to produce more sweetening chlorophyll that also helps develop the flavour and body of the final tea. Once they are picked, the tencha leaves are steamed to ‘fix’ them in a fresh, green state. Then they are finely ground using stone mills. The result is the incredibly smooth, vibrant green powder that we know as matcha.
Did You Know?
'Matcha' is a Japanese word that roughly translates as 'rubbed tea', referring to the stone-milling of the steamed tea leaves to create a fine powder.
Matcha tea powder benefits
There are widely reported health benefits to drinking matcha, and we believe there can be spiritual benefits too. Matcha is the centerpiece of a Japanese tea ceremony called chadō (‘Way of Tea’) that is considered a route to spiritual enlightenment. The ritualised preparation of ground matcha tea is at the heart of this ceremony, with practitioners spending a lifetime perfecting its gestures. Utensils are often passed from master to disciple across many generations. To offer chadō to a guest is to invite them to partake in the appreciation of the present moment.
Matcha is a type of green tea. Among the six main types of tea, green tea is the only one that is unoxidised. This means it is the only one that contains EGCG, a plant-based polyphenol known as a catechin. It is also an antioxidant, which means it stabilises free radicals in cells and has anti-inflammatory properties. By guarding cells against the detrimental impact of free radicals, it is thought it could be useful in fighting against heart disease and cancer. You can find out more about the antioxidant benefits of green tea here. Because you ingest matcha powder itself – and you don’t ingest the leaves of other green teas – matcha can contain up to 10 times more antioxidants as other types of green tea.
Like all six types of tea, green tea – and thus matcha – contains an appealing natural combination of caffeine and L-theanine. L-theanine is an amino acid that encourages relaxation and is believed to inhibit the release of caffeine into the bloodstream. You might have noticed a cup of tea can focus and relax you at the same time – if so, this is thanks to the pairing of caffeine and L-theanine.
Matcha green tea powder grades
Ceremonial grade matcha is the highest quality of matcha. It is traditionally enjoyed hot on its own as part of a traditional chadō ceremony. For this reason, it uses only the best leaves in order to showcase the vivid, intricate flavours of matcha. A tip for recognising good matcha: high quality examples will always have a very vibrant green colour.
Our small-batch JING Organic Matcha Ceremonial Grade is ground to order with traditional stone mills for an ultra-green, deliciously sweet and creamy result. It comes from Kagoshima in the far south of Japan, where ash from an active volcano makes the land fertile. As soon as our matcha has been milled in Kyoto – home to the country’s best matcha mills – it is packed immediately into airtight tins. It offers exceptional character, floral notes and deep, vegetal umami.
As well as ceremonial grade matcha, it is possible to find more affordable culinary grade matcha that is suitable for matcha lattes, if you enjoy matcha that way. Culinary grade matcha is also designed to be used in smoothies and for baking. To suit this purpose it will often have a stronger, less subtle flavour than ceremonial grade matcha so it can stand up to the other ingredients it is being mixed with.
How much matcha powder per cup?
If you are using our Organic Matcha Ceremonial Grade, we suggest using 1.5g (or 1 tsp) of matcha per 160ml cup. Matcha tastes better if you don’t use boiling water. We suggest heating the water you use to infuse your cup of matcha to 70ºC. You can find out here exactly how to get your hot water temperature just right. Once you have everything together in your vessel, whisk the matcha and water together until you have created a foamy liquid that can be poured into your cup.
Matcha green tea powder recipes
Matcha lattes have surged in popularity recently and can now be found on the menus of many coffee shops. It’s easy to make one at home and matcha lattes work just as well with a variety of dairy-free milk alternatives as they do with milk itself.
You can drink our matcha hot or cold. For a hot matcha, the instructions are above. If you want to try a cold one, it’s actually even easier to make. Again, we suggest using 1.5g (or 1 tsp) of matcha. Add it to 160ml of cold water (10ºC is ideal) and simply shake them together with ice. A specialist matcha shaker makes this process straightforward and also means you can make matcha on the go. While hot matcha is smooth and reviving, you might find cold matcha is creamy and refreshing.
Green Tea Powder vs Matcha: what is the difference
Matcha and Green Tea Powder are not the same, although they both come from the Camellia Sinensis plant and are often prepared for drinking in the same way. The main difference is matcha is ground up “tencha” tea leaves and green tea powder tends to be ground up “sencha” tea leaves. Tencha tea leaves are ones that have been shaded before their picking ad production into green tea. By reducing the amount of sunlight the leaves receive the leaves produce more chlorophyll (this is why they looks a deeper, richer green colour) and the L-thenanine in the leaf is better preserved. This means tea leaves that have been shaded taste different – often they are sweeter, with a deeper umami and are considered to taste superior to non-shaded leaves. Sencha tea, used to make green tea powder, is not traditionally shaded. The other notable difference between tencha and sencha – and so between green tea powder and matcha - is the tencha leaves used to make Matcha also traditionally go through a de-stemming and de-veining process. By removing these parts of the leaf before the leaves are ground, matcha has a very smooth and sweet texture. When these parts of the leaf are included in the grinding, such as with green tea powder, the infusion will be more astringent and potentially bitter. Matcha is considered higher quality, a better taste experience – and a healthier experience because of the increased L-theanine and chlophyll - than green tea powder.
How to make matcha tea taste better?
The simple answer here is to make sure you choose the highest quality ceremonial grade Matcha powder – the higher quality the power the better it will taste!
Another tip for making matcha tea taste better is to check the temperature of the water you’re using – if you use boiling water you’ll get a lot of bitterness, using 70 degrees will give you a much tastier cup. At 70 degrees matcha will taste much more creamy and sweet – and still with the deep umami.
As mentioned above too, you can consider making Matcha with milk instead of water to see if for you that means matcha tea tastes better. Matcha lattes can be made hot or iced and can be made with either dairy milk or any non-dairy milk alternative, like coconut milk or many of the nut-milks which are popular. Test to see whether you prefer your Matcha latte with a sweetened or non-sweetened milk.