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FAQ: Is Matcha a green tea?

FAQ: Is Matcha a green tea?

Posted by Sakae on 25th Aug 2020

Matcha has become increasingly popular. You may be very aware of the wonderful taste and the great health benefits it possesses. Matcha powder is one of the most popular categories in our shop as well.

However, if you were asked what exactly Matcha is, you may not be able to explain it in precision.

So the following is a question I am asked pretty often. Would you be able to give the correct answer?

Is Matcha Green Tea?

Matcha Powder

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The quick answer to this is - Yes, it is.

To be more precise, Matcha falls under a sub-category of green tea which is cultivated, manufactured, and prepared in a very unique way.

(Yes, Tealife's categorization isn't accurate as it has Matcha as a separate category adjacent to green tea, rather than placing Matcha as a sub-category of green tea. We separated Matcha out as a separate category because of its huge popularity.)

Matcha is an unoxidized green tea plant - so it's a form of green tea.

Green tea in general refers to the vast range of tea that is made from unoxidized "tea plants" or the Camellia sinensis. This includes the green tea that is unoxidized through roasting, which is more typical in Chinese green tea, and also ones that are unoxidized through steaming, which is more typical in Japanese green tea.

For tea such as black tea and oolong tea, while the plant for these teas are the same, they are different in that the oxidation does takes place. For the black tea, tea tea leaves are completely oxidized. For oolong tea, it is considered "half-oxidized". Therefore these teawon't be considered as a type of green tea.

Leaves that are used for Matcha on the other hand, are unoxidized right after harvesting. Therefore, they are considered a type of green tea.

It is understandable that Matcha may not feel like a green tea. This is especially if you're accustomed to high grade Matcha powder. The taste of say an Usucha Matcha (or thin tea) is vastly different from what you'd expect in other types of green tea.

There are a few secrets to why it tastes so different.

The Cultivation Method

Firstly, the cultivation method is different. Matcha is made in a special way whereby it is shaded from the sun for up to 3 weeks before harvesting. This is a very difficult cultivation method that requires high skill. It also reduces the amount of tea harvested as it reduces the growth.

While there are many cons to this cultivation method, the rewards are immense. By shading from the sun, it stops the plant from producing the Catechin substance - which is responsible for the astringency of the tea. The end Matcha product can be directly enjoyed even in the powder form due to this reduction in astringency.

If you were to take a normal green tea in a powder form, it would be very astringent and difficult to drink by itself. This shading is a fundamental step required to build that mellow taste of Matcha.

This cultivation method of shading from the sun has another effect. It adds a seaweed-like scent, which is called the "Ooika", to the tea. This also adds to the uniqueness of the taste of Matcha.

The Manufacturing Method

The leaves after harvest are unoxidized via steaming. They would go through additional processing steps to dry the leaves and make what is called the "Tencha". Tencha is just a name for green tea leaves used for making Matcha.

The Tencha is taken and is stone milled to create Matcha powder. The true definition of Matcha limits the manufacturing process to only use a stone mill. Any other methods of making powder will not be considered a Matcha.


As you can see, Matcha is by definition a type of green tea. However, it's not just that taste that is unique - the process to make this is truly unique as well.