Sure, you know all about green tea and its health benefits, but have you ever heard of matcha? You've probably seen the stuff at some hipster-y health store like Whole Foods, but it's not packaged in those adorable little tea bags like regular green tea. So, what's the deal here? Brace yourself—you're about to have all your burning questions about how matcha is made answered.

What Matcha Is and Where It Comes From

Originally brought over from Japan, like, a super long time ago, Matcha was brewed in Uji, Kyoto by monks, who favored it because it helped them during meditations. It's been around for over 800 years, and Japan has become the largest producer of the green powder. Basically, it's finely ground tea leaves, whisked in hot water until it gets all frothy. 

So, that's it?

Well, hold on a second there, this isn't your #BasicBrew. How matcha is made is considerably different than how regular green tea is produced. The leaves are grown in shade, which causes the plants to freak and produce more chlorophyll to compensate for the ever-decreasing sunlight. This gives it a deeper shade of green, and makes the nutrients available in higher doses. 

Matcha is harvested by hand, typically only once a year in May. The leaves are dried and de-veined, then stone-ground to a fine, vibrant powder—the word itself literally means "ground tea." And that's your matcha! The process is exceedingly time consuming and intensive, but it's a tradition of Japanese history carried through the centuries. 

Is Matcha Healthy?

matcha, green tea, herb, tea
Sam Jesner

In a word: hella. You're drinking the leaves themselves, absorbing the nutrients directly rather than infusing them in water. Because of the meticulous process leading to the increase in plant chemicals, the nutrients are super concentrated—it has 5x more L-Theanine than conventional green tea, which has been linked to increased concentration. Those monks were on to something.

Plus, matcha has a hell of a lot of antioxidants and ECGs, both of which fight cancer and keep your body at its peak. With caffeine to keep you steadily focused throughout the day, matcha is the perfect drink for college students. Brew it at your next frat party or just make it the next morning and sip the regrets away.

Because of its powdered form, matcha is super easy to throw into your favorite recipes for a quick health boost. Make a matcha latte or Yatsuhashi, a confectionary common to Japan. I've personally tried these matcha cookies, and they were bomb.

The specific, intensive process of how matcha is made brings out the best in those little green leaves. Add it to your daily routine and feel the zen.