Matcha tea has been hailed as the next big thing, the superfood of the future and something that everyone should be consuming. But what are the benefits of matcha, what’s the best powder to buy and how much should you be looking to spend? Those are the questions we aim to answer here.
What is Matcha Tea?
Matcha tea is a Japanese tea that comes from the same plant that produces green, black and white tea. The difference with matcha is that the leaves are ingested whole, which means you get a bigger hit of antioxidants. The tea comes in powdered form and is bright green with a rich, earthy fragrance and flavor.
This is added to hot water, whisked until smooth and then drunk. You can drink it with a little honey or sugar if you’re not keen on the taste, but most matcha drinkers get accustomed to this eventually. Matcha is also added to shakes, smoothies and porridge in order to add a hit of antioxidants.
What is Organic Matcha
Most matcha is organic. It’s just that some brands prefer to announce this whereas other play it down. By its very nature it needs to avoid processing and because of this it tends to be produced via organic methods. Still, that may not apply to all matcha out there, especially matcha powder.
Matcha Powder vs Matcha Tea
If you buy matcha powder in capsules and tablet form then you may be getting highly processed, low quality versions of this tea. So, what you save in convenience from not having to make cups of tea every time you want a dose, you lose in quality and effect.
In most cases though, matcha powder and matcha tea are the same thing. That’s because matcha is basically powdered green tea. Typically, it’s all about marketing. We find that supplement companies selling it purely for its health benefits will use the term “Matcha Powder” whereas tea makers focusing on the product, flavor and quality will use “Matcha Tea”.
Main Benefits of Matcha
In our article on green tea extract we discussed how many of the benefits just don’t exist and are either made up or exaggerated by people invested in selling you the product. The same applies to everything sold as superfoods, as well as to herbs medications like melatonin and valerian.
With matcha, there is a little more to it. There really are a lot of benefits here, but again, some of the stuff just doesn’t ring true. For instance, it is often used in weight loss pills and there are clams that it can somehow speed up the metabolism and burn calories at a rate of knots.
It contains caffeine, which is probably where these claims come from, but that caffeine content is less than black tea and much less than coffee, so it’s nothing to write home about. The main benefits of matcha come from its high antioxidant content and for the EGC, which is a very specific and very beneficial type of antioxidant.
These can help to reduce free radicals in the body, which are known to trigger many forms of cancer. It can also provide a boost to the immune system and generally promote a feeling of well being throughout.
Other Benefits of Matcha
Other matcha benefits include a feeling of calm, which stems from the high antioxidant content as well as the caffeine and the relaxing process by which the tea is made (as a proud Brit, I can attest to the powers that a good cup of tea has). It has also been shown to increase concentration. although the same can be said for many other teas.
Matcha benefits may also include improved digestion. This is something that is perhaps better with peppermint tea and even green tea, but matcha powder works in a similar way.
What is a Matcha Set?
A matcha set is a complete set for the tea making ritual, often sold as gift sets. They include traditional wooden whisks and pots as well as measuring spoons in the form of a traditional bamboo stick. Some matcha sets also include a clear glass cup or some additional, modernized objects, but the traditional matcha sets are a little more basic.
They are also very cheap and you shouldn’t need to pay more than $30 for a quality kit, with the upper end being for sets that include marble drinking vessels as opposed to stone or wood.
How Much Does Matcha Powder Cost?
If you have looked at places that sell matcha then there is a good chance you will have seen many difference prices. It’s one product, so why are there so many different prices?
In a moment we will tell you where to buy matcha tea, but to begin with it’s worth explaining the difference between lower grade and higher grade teas. Like anything, there are basics forms, mediocre forms and premium forms. Technically, all matcha comes from the same place as it’s all a ground up form of tea that grows in Japan. But there are differences in quality, and that’s key.
The way the tea is grown, processed and packed will all affect its quality. The fresher it is and the better the harvest, then the more delicate and fragrant it will taste and the healthier it will be. Obviously this tea is often shipped thousands of miles before it lands on your doorstep, so it’s not easy to send fresh, but that’s where the packaging plays a role.
Buying Premium Matcha
Here on You-Reviews we purchase our matcha tea from a local provider who are well known for quality teas. They charge the equivalent of $50 for a small tub, which is definitely the upper limit. However, you only need a small amount per cup, so it lasts, and it’s also of a really high quality. Each batch is checked to make sure it is perfect and every portion is packaged into a vacuum sealed container to keep it fresh until you open it.
On the other hand you could pay $10 to $20 for the same quantity that is packaged in a simple bottle, is not checked and just isn’t as good. It’s still matcha, it’s still healthy and for the budget conscious it’s good (especially when you consider that many useless weight loss teas cost the same, if not more). But if you have the extra money, opt for the premium stuff. And if you can’t bring yourself to pay that much for a small tub, just calculate it “per cup” and not “per tub” and it’ll start to look more economical.
Do your research on companies and products to determine if they are as good as the price tag suggests. In terms of the product itself, high quality matcha will be very vibrant in color, with a rich flavor and a fragrant smell that hits you as soon as you open it. It’s a tea that you can taste even when you add small amounts to a lot of yoghurt, porridge or ice cream. And that’s good, because that “earthy” taste is imparted by the antioxidants.
Where to Buy Matcha Tea
You can buy matcha tea from many tea suppliers online. It all depends on where you live and who your local supplier is. We would recommend getting it from a reputable tea maker as opposed to a supplement company. We personally prefer Tea Pigs, who are a well known and hugely respected UK company.
Their teas are expensive, but they focus on quality above all else and you really can taste the difference. We also believe that top UK supplies like Whittards and Twinnings have some form of matcha tea. And if you can’t trust the British to get tea right, then who can you trust?
So, take it from some tea connoisseurs, they are the brands you know you can trust to source the very best matcha, but they are by no means the only ones.
Do You Need a Matcha Whisk?
You don’t need a matcha whisk, but you should buy some kind of small whisk. We find that a battery powdered “frother” works best. It can ensure that the matcha powder is perfectly mixed in just a few seconds and it’s very cheap. However, they are also noisy and prone to breaking. We’ve gone through 3 of them in the last year alone.
If you don’t mind taking an extra minute or two to use a small hand-whisk, such as the traditional matcha whisk, then it’ll do the same job and will last much longer.