The matcha revolution is still relatively new outside of Japan, so it is understandable that many people think matcha green tea powder and brewed green tea are essentially the same. However, the differences between the two are not just in their preparation. As matcha drinkers are consuming the whole ground green tea leaf rather than what is released when brewing, the health benefits that they get from regular green tea differ greatly.
Green tea leaves have been heavily studied and their health benefits stem heavily from key nutrients found within such as catechins (EGCG), carotene, vitamins C, A, B1, B12, calcium, iron, zinc, and caffeine. As matcha uses the whole green tea leaf, it contains more concentrated levels of these nutrients, particularly those that are not water soluble.
One key difference is the amount of caffeine. While brewed green tea only contains 20 to 40mg of caffeine, matcha has a formidable 70mg (based on a 2g serve). However, it is the additional amino acids like theanine that help balance out the caffeine in matcha so that those who imbibe can get all the focus and none of the jitters.
Alternatively, for those that enjoy green tea for the potent polyphenols like EGCG, which have been lauded for everything from cancer prevention and weight loss to heart health, matcha has been found to have 137 times more polyphenols compared to those released with brewed green tea.
So Which is Healthier?
The choice is obvious. Matcha is the clear winner for a healthier beverage as it is a whole food rather than a steeped tea. Because drinkers consume the leaf, they get more of everything that steeped green tea has to offer. As an added benefit, tea drinkers who don't enjoy the earthy flavour of steeped green tea may find matcha and its rich, natural sweetness to be more palatable.
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