In simple terms, matcha powder and green tea powder are not the same. They come from the same plant, a Camelia Sinensis Sinensis and are both classified as green tea. That is where the similarities end. Each is produced differently resulting in differences across taste, nutritional profile and colour. Read on to find out more.
What is matcha?
Matcha green tea has become the green tea of choice for health enthusiasts, dieters and hipsters alike, given its ability to combat diabetes, heart disease and blood pressure, its high value as a weight-loss tool and its Instagram-ready colouring. Another feature of matcha green tea powder which has driven demand on office desks around the country, is its ability to improve cognitive performance by increasing alertness and decreasing fatigue, without the undesirable side-effects of caffeine.
Is matcha green tea powder the same as regular green tea powder?
Although both matcha green tea powder and green tea powder come from the Camellia sinensis tea plant, a single sip of high-quality matcha green tea (‘tencha’) is all it takes to dispel the notion that matcha and regular green tea powder (‘sencha’) can ever be considered as one. The striking difference in the taste profile and nutritional value of the two lies in the differing processes the tea leaves undergo during the production process. These differences start out in the field to create a tencha or a sencha. In simple terms; One is shade-grown and the other isn’t. This detail is critical!
Matcha Tea Powder is Made from Tencha
Tencha tea leaves are left in the shade for a period of at least 20 days, before harvesting begins. If you have ever wondered what gives matcha green tea its bright green hue, it’s this. The process of covering the tea leaves reduces the amount of sunlight tencha tea leaves receive, which has a substantial effect on the colouring of matcha leaves as it boosts the production of chlorophyll in the plant. Shading also preserves the L-theanine levels contained within the leaves – that is, the compound behind matcha tea’s relaxing and focus-enhancing properties.
Let’s also not forget tencha’s smooth and sweet texture, which is the result of the practice of de-stemming and de-veining the tea leaves – a critical step which would be absent in the processing the sencha variety of green tea powder. For this reason, tencha leaves are highly prized by tea connoisseurs and health addicts alike. For the finest grade, we recommend shade-grown leaves (tencha) collected from the first harvest of spring. This is the variety is revered for both taste and nutritional profile.
Sencha leaves, on the other hand, are collected from later harvests and are not subjected to shading. A fact which increases the catechins in the leaves and often gives regular green tea powder an unpleasant bitter and astringent taste. This is but one of the many reasons that sencha is considered to be of an inferior quality to matcha made from tencha. There is also the fact that sencha contains any old leaves from the tea plant, unlike tencha, which is hand-picked from the youngest sweetest shoots of the tea bush for optimal quality at the retail level.
Is matcha and green tea powder interchangeable?
Teas that are simply ground into a powder are not matcha and this includes green tea. So here is my more unbiased view… The choice of matcha versus powdered green tea largely depends on your motivations for consuming it. If a level health benefit is the sole reason you are drinking green tea powder and price is a concern then sencha is adequate. Best blended into smoothies. You’ll just need to drink far more of it in order to obtain the same benefits as Matcha.
If health, energy, focus and taste are your drivers then don’t cut corners and buy the good stuff. You can’t replace tencha with sencha and expect the same results.
Take a look at our high-grade, shade-grown, organic matcha green tea powder in our online store here.