Ok, so, to be honest, I'd never even tried matcha until this past semester. The boss at my internship would always get matcha lattes with almond milk and when he offered to get me one too, do you think I'd actually refuse? Dude, free latte! And when I had my first sip, I knew instantly I'd become a matcha enthusiast. But what really is matcha anyway? And is matcha healthy, maybe even more so than regular green tea? Let's break it down.

What is Matcha in the first place?

soup, cream
Tara Bitran

Matcha has been a fixture in Japanese culture since the 12th century, and like regular green tea, hails from China via the Camellia sinensis shrub. This plant not only produces matcha and regular green tea, but also all types of leaves for tea, including white, green oolong, black, and pu-erh tea.

But then what differentiates Matcha from typical green tea and other teas?

jam, oil, tea
Jocelyn Hsu

Well, matcha is grown differently, as matcha tea bushes are covered for about 20–30 days before harvest, to prevent direct sunlight from hitting the leaves and to increase chlorophyll levels. This makes matcha leaves a darker shade of green and gives them more amino acids. Once they're harvested, the stems and veins are removed and only the leaves remain. Then, they're stone-ground into the fine, bright green powder we all know and love: matcha. This powder, containing the whole leaf, is then dissolved into hot water, whereas typical green tea is prepared by steeping only parts of the leaf in hot water.

But wait a second, what does Matcha taste like?

cream, milk, green tea, coffee, matcha, tea
Elise Metcalf

In case you've never tried matcha before, which can be used for lattes but also pancakes, macarons, this variation of green tea can have slight grass notes, like other green teas you might be used to. But it has a much richer, almost buttery flavor that is naturally sweet. Yum! Matcha powder also feels smooth to the touch, almost velvety, while regular green tea feels gritty, like crushed up leaves.

Yeah, but is Matcha healthy?

tea, matcha, soup, green tea, cream
Cayla Bamberger

You bet! Matcha contains 137 times more EGCG, an antioxidant linked to better heart health, a healthy metabolism, and improved aging, than regular green tea. It's also anti-inflammatory and super energizing, which can help improve your workouts. Matcha's high cholorphyll levels help to give you clear skin, protect your blood and heart, and help prevent joint inflammation. Additionally, matcha raises your metabolism, helps with weight loss and management, and thanks to the amino acid L-theanine, helps to lower your anxiety. L-theanine is found in regular green tea as well, and because it promotes a state of relaxation, is the reason green tea is considered calming.

So I guess it's healthier than regular green tea then...

green tea, matcha, dairy product, cream, melokhia, herb, vegetable, soup, tea
Liz Margaretha

Oh yeah. It would take 10 cups of regular green tea to match the amount of nutrition found in one cup of matcha. And hello, caffeine-wise, matcha can hook you up by providing a long stream of energy without fear of getting the jitters. One cup made from half a teaspoon of powder contains about 35 mg of caffeine, which is slightly more than a cup of regular green tea and is almost a third less than an ordinary cup of joe.

Green tea isn't too shabby though, as it contains such nutritious elements as carotene, vitamin C, vitamins A, B1, B12, and P, iron, magnesium, calcium, strontium, copper, nickel, and zinc. The only thing is, the amount of these nutrients is more concentrated in matcha, especially those that wouldn't be water soluble.

beer, vodka, candy, alcohol
Molly Delmore

So, if you're at your internship, and your boss sends you on a coffee run and somehow by means of magic asks you if you want a matcha latte too, you don't have to ask the question 'is matcha healthy'. Take your boss up on that offer, because free matcha is worth it.