What is matcha tea?
Matcha is a type of green tea made from the powdered leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Originally served at tea ceremonies in Japan, so-called matcha tea is now widely available and used in cooking.
Matcha vs green tea: what’s the difference?
Although from the same plant as green tea, matcha is grown differently. The plants are covered with bamboo mats during most of the growing period. This increases the amount of chlorophyll in the leaves giving the tea that characteristic bright green colour.
Made from the youngest, freshest part of the plant, the leaves are steamed to preserve their colour and nutrients, then dried using a specialist tencha-ro machine. The stems and veins of the remaining “tencha” are removed and the leaves are ground to a fine powder. So, when we enjoy a cup of matcha we consume the whole leaf rather than just an infusion of its leaves.
Some products sold as ‘matcha’ may in fact be powdered versions of green tea. These products look very similar so it’s not always easy to differentiate them. These are the powders often used in recipes to add the distinctive green colour and grassy flavour to cakes, bakes, pancakes and hot drinks.
Want to try it for yourself? Find some of our favourite matcha teas in the olive shop.
How to prepare matcha tea
Sift 1-2 tsp matcha powder into a tea bowl and add hot – but not boiling – water, whisk the tea vigorously in a zig-zag motion until it is frothy and enjoy!
What should I look for when buying matcha tea?
When purchasing matcha check that the powder is vibrant green in colour, has an ultra-fine silky texture and is packaged to limit exposure to air and light. You should expect to pay a little more than for other green teas because of the specialised growing conditions and manufacturing process. Your cup of matcha should be aromatic with a fresh but grassy smell and a hint of sweetness.
The matcha used as an ingredient in food products is unlikely to be a premium matcha and more likely to be a powdered green tea, therefore it’s unlikely to contribute the same, if any, health benefits.
Our top 5 matcha recipes
Our easy spinach pancake recipe gets an extra boost from matcha powder. Top with fresh fruit or yogurt for a vibrant green breakfast or hearty weekend brunch.
As you prepare your matcha, add the seeds from a vanilla pod before whisking to add a pleasantly sweet flavour to your tea.
Mix nutritious matcha powder with natural yogurt in this maple syrup and fruit-topped breakfast and get 2 of your 5-a-day. Add a scattering of toasted coconut flakes for crunch.
Matcha takes blondies to the next level. The slightly bitter flavour balances the sweetness of white chocolate. Serve gooey for an afternoon treat.
5. Matcha latte
Try this matcha latte as an alternative to your regular hot drink. You can use the milk of your choice, including dairy-free varieties such as coconut, almond or oat milk.