Get Your Black Belt in Tea: Master These Matcha Tea FAQ

Matcha tea is relatively new to the Western world, though it is well known in Asia. Many who are new to drinking matcha tea want to know about its cultivation, chemical composition, the right time to drink it, and whether it tastes like other teas. Matcha tea is growing in popularity in the West and as it continues to do so, consumers will have more and more questions about it.

What people seem to be most interested in are the health benefits of matcha tea. Much has been published and there are many studies still ongoing about the myriad health advantages of drinking matcha tea. Here are some of the most common questions that consumers are asking about matcha tea these days, along with appropriate explanations:

Does matcha tea have caffeine?

Matcha has approximately 30 mg of caffeine per teaspoon of tea powder, though it does not affect the metabolism the way the caffeine in coffee does. Coffee has about 150 mg of caffeine per cup and produces a rapid delivery of the chemical to the bloodstream. Matcha’s metabolic effect is smoother and milder.

Why does matcha tea cost more than other varieties?

The growth and harvesting process for matcha is much more extensive than for any other tea in the world. For example, the leaves are hand-selected and stone ground, to mention but two unique aspects of this rare tea’s cultivation methods.

Is matcha sold in tea bags?

Usually not. Sometimes consumers discover low-quality bags that offer a mixture of matcha tea and some other variety, but real matcha tea is consumed from a powder that is mixed directly into hot water. That way, all the nutrients are included in the drink.

Why not mix matcha tea with milk?

This is usually not done as milk can block the metabolic absorption of many nutritional compounds in the matcha tea.

What if I am on medication, or nursing, or am pregnant?

There are usually no problems for nursing mothers or pregnant women who want to drink matcha tea. But in these cases, and if you are taking any kind of medication, be sure to speak with your health care professional and find out if matcha tea is okay for you to drink. In fact, you should do the same for anything you drink, besides water, if you are wondering about its effects on your body.
What grade of matcha tea should I drink?

That depends what you intend to use the tea for. If it is strictly for mixing in smoothies or making cupcakes, there are middle and lower grade varieties that suit that purpose. If you want to enjoy the very best that Japan has to offer in the way of tea drinking, then opt for the ceremonial grade matchas. Middle grade varieties exist as well, so determine how much you want to spend and what your purpose is, and then settle on a grade.

How long does matcha last and what is the best way to store it?

Matcha tea will last several months as long as you store the container in your refrigerator and keep it as dry as possible. Store it the way you would store a bag of fresh vegetables that need refrigeration. Over time, like any high-quality organic substance, matcha tea will lose some of its flavor and color.

How else can matcha be used besides as a hot tea drink?

There are countless ways to enjoy the taste and nutrients of matcha tea, whether as a cold or hot drink, as a cooking additive, a smoothie mix and in a virtually limitless number of recipes.

What health benefits does matcha tea have?

Because matcha uses the entire tea leaf, it is considered a whole food, unlike other teas. This also means it is a more powerful source of vitamins and minerals. It contains polyphenols (an antioxidant). One of the polyphenols in matcha is called EGCG, which is able to increase the human metabolism and possibly retard the growth of cancer cells. In addition, matcha tea’s ingredients are connected to decreased rates of cancer and heart disease, more effective blood pressure control, and blood-sugar maintenance.

What is the connection between matcha tea and meditation?

The first matcha tea plants in Japan were brought there by Buddhist monks who began learning to prepare the tea for social ceremonies in the Zen tradition. Since then, the tea has had a long and involved history with the Zen Buddhist tradition, and many monks today enjoy the drink on a daily basis. You don’t have to be a regular practitioner of meditation, or even a monk! in order to drink matcha tea. It tastes good, and is good for you, whether you are meditating or not.

What does matcha tea taste like?

Ask a dozen people this question and you are likely to get 12 different answers. But there will be some commonalities in the responses. Many report that matcha has a uniquely grassy taste reminiscent of spinach. Others refer to the tea’s taste as vegetable-like and smooth. It is strong and probably unlike anything that most people are used to drinking. Do not expect it to taste like other tea you are familiar with and definitely don’t expect it to taste like coffee. Match stands alone!

Should I drink matcha tea before bed?

Probably not, unless you are relatively immune to the effects of caffeine. Matcha has a small amount of caffeine so it is best consumed in the morning or early afternoon. However, the 30 mg per cup that is standard in most varieties of matcha tea is nowhere near the amount of caffeine in sodas or coffee, which are typically pack about 150 mg of caffeine or more per serving.

Is matcha tea grown everywhere?

No, the only high-quality matcha teas are grown in Japan, a nation which has spent hundreds of years perfecting the plant and its cultivation. There are low-quality matcha teas grown in China and other areas, but they are so far below the Japanese matcha in quality as to be considered different drinks altogether.

If you have a question about matcha tea that was not treated above, or just want to know about anything having to do with Japanese tea ceremony, culture or history, feel free to send us a message and we’ll do our level best to answer you as quickly as possible.

Filed under Essential reads, Matcha
Author

Yuki thinks simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. His most significant accomplishment is learning how to sit with a good cup of tea and listen. When not online, Yuki talks with all things wild and free. He is a blogger and a matcha lover.

2 Comments

  1. I’d love to get a black belt in tea, but since I love matcha so much, I’d rather have a “green” belt. —L. Allen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *