The Difference Between Matcha and Green Tea – Explained 

Jill Caren

There is a big difference between matcha and green tea, starting from the cultivation process, the processing methods, preparation, caffeine, and L-theanine content, and ending …

Categories Matcha

There is a big difference between matcha and green tea, starting from the cultivation process, the processing methods, preparation, caffeine, and L-theanine content, and ending with the different prices of these popular teas.

I’ll try to simplify and explain the main differences between green tea and matcha.

Matcha and Green Tea: The Main Differences

The most important differences between matcha and green tea are:

  • The processing method
  • Preparation
  • Flavor
  • Caffeine content
  • L-theanine
  • Antioxidant content
  • Price


Despite the fact that green tea and matcha come from the same tea plant (Camellia sinensis), they are cultivated and processed differently. 

Green tea is grown under the sun, whereas matcha is shade grown during the final three weeks before harvesting. The shade increases the chlorophyll levels in the leaves. This is the reason for matcha’s vibrant green color.

In addition to the differences in cultivation, the processing of green tea and matcha differs from one another.  

Depending on the type of green tea (Japanese or Chinese), after harvesting, the leaves are heated by steaming or pan-firing and dried to prevent too much oxidation. 

When processing matcha, there are extra steps. After hand-picking the youngest and greenest tea leaves, they quickly undergo a steaming process to prevent the leaves from oxidizing. 

To ensure that only the best leaves are ground into matcha, the leaves are then de-stemmed and deveined. The last step in the matcha production process is grinding. The leaves are stone-ground into a fine, vivid green powder.

More on matcha’s basics and how it is made here.

After the processing methods finish, you get green tea in loose leaf form (whole or broken dry leaves depending on the type), and matcha is in powder form. This is the main difference between matcha and green tea.


Matcha tea and green tea are prepared differently. When making matcha and green tea, the only similarity is that you never use boiling water

This will burn both the leaves and the powder, leaving you with a bitter beverage. So use hot water, but not boiling.

The best water temperature for preparing green tea is between 140 °F and 185 °F (60 °C and 85 °C) depending on the type. Steep time should be from 30 sec.-3 min.

When it comes to matcha, the recommended water temperature is 175 °F (80 °C).

Additionally, green tea is made by simply steeping the leaves in water, whereas traditional matcha tea requires the proper whisking of the powder. In fact, you end up drinking the entire powder rather than removing it. 

Matcha tea is traditionally prepared using a bowl called a chawan and a bamboo whisk called a chasen. Whisking matcha can also be done with an electric frother if you don’t have a bamboo whisk.

Both matcha and green tea can be made using cold water, and this is a good way to consume these amazing drinks during the summer.

Today, matcha is also used to make well-known matcha lattes, but you should never mix regular green tea with milk.


Green tea’s flavor is often described as light, fresh, sweet, vegetal, and grassy. If you don’t brew it properly or you use low-quality green tea, you may end up with too much bitter tea.

Matcha typically has a more intense, richer flavor. This is because you drink powdered, whole tea leaves. With vegetal, grassy notes, a touch of natural sweetness, and an umami finish, matcha tea has a complex flavor profile.

Good quality matcha does not have a bitter aftertaste

Today, matcha powder is often blended with milk and sweetener to create a matcha latte. Matcha lattes are popular because matcha is so rich in flavor, it manages not to be overpowered by the added milk. 

Caffeine content and L-theanine in green tea vs. matcha

Matcha contains more caffeine than green tea. Matcha typically contains 64 mg of caffeine per cup (38–88 mg per 2 grams of powder), compared to green tea, which typically contains 30 mg. There can be anywhere between 20 and 50 mg of caffeine per cup, depending on the type of green tea used, the steeping time, etc. 

Green tea and matcha contain different levels of caffeine, but they both contain L-theanine. This is an amino acid naturally found in tea and some mushrooms that promotes relaxation by reducing stress and anxiety.

Unlike the energy from coffee’s caffeine or energy drinks, the energy boost from matcha’s L-theanine and caffeine lasts for a longer period of time.

L-theanine is present in both matcha and green tea, but due to the shading technique used to grow matcha’s tea leaves, matcha has five times more L-theanine than green tea.

Details on how long matcha gives you energy here.

Antioxidants in matcha vs. green tea

Green tea and matcha are essentially valuable due to their antioxidant content. Both are high in antioxidants, especially catechins. Its most powerful catechin is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

Antioxidants can protect cells from the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. 

The health benefits of green tea are primarily attributed to the EGCG form of catechin. EGCG accounts for 60-65% of the total catechins in a cup of green tea.

According to a study from 2021, matcha contains up to 10 times more antioxidants than regular green tea.

When you make a cup of green tea, all the beneficial minerals and antioxidants that were still encapsulated in the tea leaves are lost. The beneficial properties of tea leaves can only be partially extracted by water.

With matcha, you consume the entire leaf! When you drink matcha, you receive all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids present in the entire tea leaf because you consume the entire tea leaf ground into a powder.


High-quality ceremonial-grade matcha is more expensive than green tea. 

Due to its labor-intensive manufacturing process, matcha is more expensive than other types of green tea. High-quality matcha is in high demand, but there is a shortage of land that can be used to grow the tea plants needed to make matcha. 

Generally speaking, green tea is less expensive than ceremonial-grade matcha. Culinary-grade matcha, which is often used for cooking or making lattes, comes at a lower price and is cheaper than ceremonial-grade.

Also, some types of green tea, such as Japanese Gyokuro green tea, which is shade grown, are really expensive. 

Thus, it all depends on the type of green tea you select, but generally speaking, ceremonial-grade matcha is more expensive than ordinary green tea.

The Takeaway

There are many differences between matcha and green tea, starting from the cultivation process, where matcha is shade-grown and green tea is not. The shading process is crucial because it allows for increasing the L-theanine and chlorophyll levels in matcha. 

Additionally, there is also a difference in the caffeine and antioxidant content between these two popular teas. Matcha contains more caffeine and antioxidants than green tea, but it is also usually more expensive.

Finally, now that you know the differences between green tea and matcha it’s up to you to decide which of these teas to choose. 

If you want tea with a more intense umami flavor rich in antioxidants, L-theanine and caffeine choose matcha. Remember to always opt for high-quality matcha powder when you want to make traditional matcha tea.