With its pleasant blend of earthy and sweet flavors, Encha matcha can be enjoyed without any added dairy or sweeteners. Encha is ceremonial-grade matcha, meaning it is ground from premium fresh leaves. Powder is super fine and dissolves easily in hot or cold water.
Sits at a significantly higher price point than comparable brands.
Starter Matcha provides a boost of energy that you will notice immediately. The flavor is subtle, and tastes good on its own or lightly sweetened. The low cost makes Starter Matcha the perfect brand to try if you're new to matcha tea. Powder can be used in baking and smoothies as well.
Green color is dull and less pronounced.
The powder is finely ground and vibrant green in color. Tea has a pleasant, grassy taste without being bitter. Matcha Wellness is comparable to a ceremonial-grade matcha but at a slightly lower cost. Tea has a pleasant aroma.
Matcha doesn't froth as much as other brands.
The Zen Spirit matcha is an appealing bright green color. It is culinary grade, so it works well in tea lattes, but is also perfect for baking. The powder blends well, leaving no chunks in hot or cold water. When brewed, matcha gives off a pleasant, subtle green tea scent.
Packaging makes it difficult to get the matcha out.
Stone-ground powder is extra fine and dissolves quickly when sifted. Gives a boost of energy that will carry you through the day. Flavor is concentrated and a little spoonful goes a long way.
Strong, earthy taste requires sweetening, making this brand best suited for tea lattes.
If you’re a green tea drinker, you’re probably already aware of the beverage’s health benefits, from a healthier heart to weight loss to cancer-fighting antioxidants. Matcha is an ultraconcentrated powder form of green tea that turbocharges these nutritional benefits — and you — with a larger dose of caffeine.
When you drink matcha, or the currently on-trend matcha latte, you’re ingesting the whole leaf of the Camellia sinensis plant from which regular green tea also comes. Tea leaves for matcha are grown differently, however, and ground into a fine powder. This bright green powder boasts way more antioxidants and caffeine than green tea and other beneficial nutrients like chlorophyll.
You can make a traditional hot tea from matcha, or you can add the powder to smoothies or recipes. The quality of matcha teas on the market ranges widely, from ceremonial to culinary grades. But not all matcha powders are created equal. We show you our top recommendations here. To learn more about this increasingly popular super-powder, read on.
Matcha tea has been invading the marketplace, and it can be spotted on the shelves of health food stores, on celebrities’ Instagrams, and even in skincare products. Matcha dates back nearly a thousand years to Chinese Zen Buddhist monks who prepared the tea in ritual ceremonies. Matcha made its way to Japan where it became celebrated in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies for hundreds of years, and today the country produces the finest matcha in the world.
Though green tea and matcha come from the same plant, the tea plants for matcha are shaded from the sun for nearly a month before harvesting, which boosts their chlorophyll and amino acid content. It also gives the plant a darker hue. The whole leaf is ground into the powder that makes matcha tea, which means tea drinkers are drinking the whole leaf, not just leaves brewed in water (regular green tea). One glass of matcha has ten times the nutrients of one glass of green tea.
Caffeine: One value of matcha as compared to green tea is it has double the caffeine content. Ceremonial-grade matcha contains 70 milligrams (mg) of caffeine while regular green tea contains 35 mg. If you’re trying to kick coffee, switching to matcha is a healthier choice, with two-thirds the amount of caffeine compared to a cup of joe.
L-theanine: Matcha also provides a non-jittery energy without the crash of coffee, thanks to the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine is known to relax the mind and, in combination with caffeine, provide sustained, calm alertness. This is why matcha is thought to be popular with Buddhist monks for meditation purposes. L-theanine is also present in green tea but is five times higher in matcha thanks to the shaded growing technique. This mood-enhancing amino acid also increases alpha-wave activity in the brain, which decreases stress levels and helps with anxiety.
Chlorophyll: The high chlorophyll content of matcha tea, resulting in matcha powder’s rich green color, is an effective detoxifier of the body, naturally flushing out toxins and heavy metals. Studies have also found that drinking matcha tea can help the liver and reduce levels of liver enzymes that indicate damage.
Catechins: Matcha tea contains sky-high levels of catechins, a group of powerful, disease-fighting antioxidants. Compared to regular green tea, matcha tea contains 137 times the amount of the catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has also shown cancer-fighting potential in test-tube studies. Catechins stop oxidative damage to cells, which may prevent chronic diseases including cancer.
And more: Other benefits of the caffeine plus L-theanine combo include improved brain function, especially among the elderly. Matcha tea boosts athletic performance, thanks to the high dose of EGCG, and speeds up post-workout recovery. It also provides energy to people suffering from fatigue. Green tea in general is known to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease, as well as lower LDL cholesterol. Lastly, green tea is thought to speed up the metabolism and boost fat burning in the body.
Matcha tea typically comes as a powder in resealable, opaque bags or lidded canisters. Both of these protect the powder from overexposure to oxygen, which will compromise the product and turn it a dull, brownish color. However brands also offer packets of 12 to 20 single servings of matcha, which are convenient if you’re on the go.
Powder vs. tea bags: The most authentic matcha tea comes in powder form. However, a pure powder doesn’t come cheaply. For a less-expensive option, matcha tea bags are available. However, be aware that “matcha” tea bags are mixed with regular green tea and typically contain less than 3% of the powder. Without ingesting the leaves themselves, as you do in the powder form, you’re getting significantly fewer of the benefits.
Ceremonial-grade matcha tea is best for drinking. It’s made from the youngest tea leaves; the stems and veins are removed before processing into a powder. It’s blended to be smooth, naturally sweet, and strong when whisked in hot water.
Culinary-grade matcha tea is designed for cooking and blended to be mixed with other ingredients, like adding to a green smoothie or baked goods. You can certainly use it for beverages as well, though it may taste more astringent. Culinary-grade matcha tea is less expensive than ceremonial grade.
Sweetened: While matcha tea purists will insist that you should only buy product with “matcha” listed as the sole ingredient, there are a number of matcha tea powders sweetened with sugar and other natural sweeteners and some that are mixed with powdered milk. These mixes are often used for coffee-shop matcha lattes.
Stone-ground: These products are ground to a powder using a stone mill versus a machine that produces “industrial”-grade matcha tea. Stone-ground matcha tastes superior because of the molecular shape produced by this more authentic process.
Organic: Nonorganic matcha teas are cultivated with the use of pesticides and other agrochemicals, which get ultraconcentrated in a powder form. Organic matcha teas don’t use harmful pesticides, but these products are significantly more expensive than nonorganic.
Matcha green tea powder ranges in price from $1 to $28 an ounce.
Inexpensive: For an inexpensive, culinary-grade matcha powder, you can expect to pay $1 to $8 an ounce. Organic products are widely available in this price range.
Mid-range: For a mid-priced culinary grade or entry-level ceremonial grade, expect to pay $9 to $19 an ounce. These are by and large organic and generally from Japan.
Expensive: A premium, ceremonial-grade matcha powder from Japan, often from regions famous for matcha cultivation, costs upwards of $20 an ounce. These are certified organic products, and some are tested for radiation contamination as well.
For a low-priced, organic, non-GMO matcha tea, we love the TEAki Hut Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder, which costs just $3.50 an ounce. This culinary-grade matcha is a fan favorite for cooking, mixing into green smoothies, and making cold matcha drinks. It’s a bit bitter for sipping tea, but if you’re looking for a cost-effective matcha powder for recipes, this is a solid choice. If you’re preparing your own tea ceremony or just looking for a ceremonial-grade tea, the Jade Leaf Matcha Green Tea Powder comes from a brand trusted for authenticity and taste. Sourced from organic farms in Uji, Japan, this matcha made for sipping is the real deal and as high quality as you can get. It’s also tested for heavy metals like lead and arsenic and for radiation. You pay for purity with this matcha powder, and in return you get quality taste your body will thank you for.
Q. How do I prepare matcha tea to drink?
A. Traditional matcha is mixed with hot water, though you can make your own matcha lattes at home by substituting milk or nut milk for the water. Heat water to 160?F to 175?F, which is a cooler temperature than the water boiled for black tea. Place a teaspoon of matcha powder into a cup or ceremonial bowl and then slowly add a couple ounces of hot water. Whisk the matcha and water, ideally with a bamboo brush or tea whisk until mixture is frothy and thick. Then add the rest of the water and enjoy your matcha tea.
Q. Are there any side effects from drinking matcha tea?
A. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, be aware that matcha can rival the amount in a cup of coffee. For this reason, we don’t recommend drinking it at least six hours before bedtime so as not disturb your night’s sleep. Matcha tea also can contain lead, even organically grown products. Especially green tea cultivated in China contains lead absorbed from the environment. When regular green tea is steeped, 90% of the harmful heavy metal stays in the leaf. Because the whole tea leaf is ingested with matcha, you may be consuming up to 30 times the amount of lead than in regular green tea. For this reason, we don’t recommend consuming it while pregnant, drinking more than a cup a day, or serving any to children.
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