Matcha and green tea both stem from the Camellia sinensis plant. Green tea tends to be loose or bagged. Matcha is a fine powder of green tea leaves, and typically contains a stronger concentration of nutrients and antioxidants.

Each form of tea may have its own benefits for the body, and some people may prefer the flavor or properties of one over the other.

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Green tea is one form of tea from the Camellia sinensis plant. This is the same plant used for other types of tea, such as black, white, and oolong tea.

For green tea, manufacturers harvest the tea leaves and quickly heat them. This helps prevent the leaves from oxidizing and becoming brown. Depending on the type of tea, they may use different methods — such as steaming, pan firing, or sun drying — to process the leaves.

They then roll and dry the leaves to create their final form. Steeping the tea leaves in hot water creates the tea.

Green tea has an earthy, grassy, or vegetable-like taste. When brewed, the tea leaves behind a clear, yellowish green to light brown liquid. Green tea may have a mildly astringent flavor in the mouth.

Brewing the tea for too long creates a darker brew that may be too bitter for some people.

Matcha is a type of green tea. Manufacturers use specialized growing and processing techniques to turn the Camellia sinensis leaves into matcha.

They grow the tea plant in the shade toward the last few weeks of harvest. This protects it from sunlight and slows down growth to give the tea leaves their distinct characteristics.

After harvest, the manufacturers dry the leaves quickly to minimize oxidation. They then remove the stems and veins from the leaves and grind the leaf material into a fine, bright green powder.

Dissolving the powder in hot water creates the tea. Traditionally, people have used bamboo whisks to help remove clumps of the powder and give the beverage a consistent feel. Modern whisks or electric milk frothers may achieve similar results.

Matcha has a vibrant green color. Depending on the preparation, it may be slightly foamy at the top. Matcha has a grassy, earthy flavor, with sweet and bitter undertones.

Adding milk or a sweetener to the preparation may mellow the flavor if a person finds that it is too strong for them.

Matcha and green tea come from the same plant as other teas. The main differences are in their production processes and the content of the end product.

Matcha goes through a more careful growth and extraction process than other teas. Manufacturers do not grow most green teas in the shade or protect them from oxidation. These added steps help control variables in production and give matcha its unique characteristics and flavor.

Other teas may go through multiple processes — such as heating, drying, and rolling — after harvest. The exact processes vary depending on the type of green tea.

The end product causes differences in flavor for matcha and green tea. Where green tea may have a light, refreshing flavor, matcha tends to be rich, with a stronger, grassy flavor.

As the beverage contains entire pulverized tea leaves, some people may consider it a form of concentrated green tea.

People may enjoy these flavors alone or with a light sweetener such as honey.

The boldness of matcha makes it popular in culinary recipes, and people who drink matcha may add it to milk or a plant-based milk to create a matcha latte instead of a coffee.

The caffeine content will vary depending on the preparation. Green tea contains about 11–25 milligrams (mg) per gram (g) of caffeine. Matcha contains about 19–44 mg per g of caffeine.

The teas may also have differing price points. The added processing and special care of matcha may make it more expensive than green tea.

People have used green tea medicinally in countries such as China and Japan for thousands of years.

Some research suggests that green tea is a source of antioxidants and minerals such as magnesium and manganese, among others.

The benefits of green tea and its compounds may include:

  • increased mental alertness
  • improved working memory
  • headache relief
  • promotion of weight loss
  • digestive symptom relief

Despite vast research into green tea and its compounds, many results are inconclusive. This means that scientists have not yet confirmed the health benefits of green tea.

A study from 2020 found a link between tea consumption and a reduced risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

Additionally, green tea may be good for the skin. Some research suggests that antioxidants reduce cellular damage and may prevent photoaging, which is the damaging process of sunlight on the skin cells.

There is also growing evidence to suggest that green tea empowers the overall bodily system by inducing autophagy, which is the body’s way of getting rid of old or damaged cells. Green tea may also reduce the effects of stress and help protect the body from neurodegenerative conditions.

Matcha shares many of the benefits of green tea.

Its growing, harvesting, and preparation processes may boost the production of certain compounds that benefit health, which may make it the best concentrated source of these compounds.

Specifically, these processes may boost levels of:

  • caffeine
  • theanine
  • chlorophyll
  • antioxidant catechins

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate is the most active and abundant antioxidant in green tea, and it is at its highest concentrations in matcha.

Since many of green tea’s benefits stem from these active antioxidants, matcha may have a positive effect on physical and mental health.

The benefits of matcha may include:

  • improved memory and cognitive function
  • reduced oxidative stress
  • fighting of inflammation
  • reduced photoaging
  • improved markers of metabolic health
  • strengthened blood vessels in the heart
  • reduced factors of tumor growth in the gut

Because matcha uses the whole leaf, people may get a more complete extraction of the compounds in the tea.

Green tea and matcha share many of the same health benefits.

Matcha may contain higher quantities of some compounds. For example, the shade growing process of creating matcha may boost the levels of important compounds, such as l-theanine, chlorophyll, and antioxidants. Green tea still contains these compounds, but matcha may contain more of them.

The brewing process extracts healthy compounds and nutrients from the tea leaves into the water. However, some of the nutrients and compounds in green tea leaves may not diffuse into the hot water during brewing.

With matcha, the person consumes the leaves themselves. This may increase the levels of the nutrients they take in. How much more they take in will vary depending on a number of factors, such as the quality of the tea, the extraction time, and the amount of tea in the brew.

People who are looking for higher levels of antioxidants from their tea may want to stick with matcha. Depending on the preparation of each, matcha may contain more antioxidants than standard green tea.

However, more is not necessarily better. Consuming too many antioxidants may have an oxidative effect in the body, wherein the additional antioxidants become unstable or react with the cells around them.

A person who consumes three to four cups of green tea each day will ingest levels of the antioxidant polyphenol that are above the recommended daily intake.

Matcha and green tea are both forms of green tea. Their cultivation and preparation methods set them apart, both in flavor and the concentration of some compounds.

Green tea using brewed tea leaves has a light, grassy flavor and provides the body with a number of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Matcha is the pulverized version of green tea leaves, and it contains a stronger concentration of some key nutrients and antioxidants.

Some people prefer one or the other due to flavor preferences or their referred preparation. Both types of tea have similar health benefits.