This article is about Japanese Green Tea matcha. It talks about where it comes from, the most important types of matcha, and its benefits. I will also show how you to choose the best matcha for your needs, how to prepare it for drinking, and how to store matcha powder after use.

Where is matcha from?

Traditional matcha is a specific type of green tea that comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. This tree is responsible for making other teas, such as black tea and oolong tea. For matcha, this tree is grown in the shade over 3 weeks in Japan (specifically in Kyoto and Aichi). 

The green tea leaves are cultivated under cover to avoid direct sunlight then steamed to prevent it from oxidizing. This process increases the chlorophyll and amino acid content, and creates a darker green color unlike any other green tea.  

Matcha powder is made by taking young tea leaves, dried and rolled through a stone mill, grinding them up into a very fine powder. Women’s Health says when drinking matcha, you are consuming actual tea leaves, which gives you twice the amount of antioxidants that you would from drinking regular green tea. 

matcha powder on ceramic bowl
Matcha powder that’s being sifted to remove clumps. Photo by Eva Elijas on

Uji Matcha

This is ceremonial grade matcha. This is the most flavorful and impeccable matcha. It’s creamy and buttery, and has a strong umami and sweet aftertaste. The aftertaste contrasts well with the bright vegetal flavor. You don’t need to use ceremonial grade for your matcha milk tea, but if you have it on hand, it will be delicious.

Ceremonial vs. culinary grade matcha

Ceremonial grade is considered the highest grade of matcha. It is usually enjoyed by itself in a drink. Culinary grade matcha, on the other hand, can be mixed and baked and cooked and drank by itself too. It is a lower grade than ceremonial grade matcha. Culinary grade is not as bright in green color as ceremonial grade.

Both grades of matcha can be cooked and baked, but most people use culinary grade matcha for cooking due to it being cheaper. This is my favorite brand of matcha for cooking and baking.


If you’re like me, you crave caffeine, but coffee gives you only a temporary high until you get a headache or crash later in the day. Traditional matcha contains natural chemicals (caffeine and L-theanine) that provide sustained energy. L-theanine helps your body absorb the caffeine more slowly.

L-theanine also has a calming effect on the body. L-theanine helps to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. It does this by increasing dopamine levels, also known as the happy hormone.

Protective benefits

Matcha green tea provides antioxidants, aids in weight loss, controlling diabetes, immune system protection, heart and brain health, and protection against cancer.  It may also help the prevention of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders.*  

How much caffeine is in matcha?

One teaspoon of matcha tea contains about 68 mg of caffeine. My matcha milk tea uses 1 teaspoon per serving.

It’s a great alternative for coffee drinkers. 

For women who are expecting or nursing, it’s also a cleaner alternative to coffee, in moderation (up to 300-400 mg of caffeine a day).*

How to choose the best matcha?

Check the ingredient label on the packaging. If you see anything other than matcha then it’s not pure.

Real matcha powder is bright green, smells a little grassy, and has a fine powder texture similar to baby powder. If your powder is a darker or dulled green, or a yellowish tinge then your matcha is probably impure or blended with something else. If there are different textures in your powder, like coarser and finer powders, then it may not be pure.

High quality matcha should feel fine and silky like how eye shadow or baby powder feels like. Lower quality matcha may have coarser grains.

Fresh matcha powder is not clumped. If it’s been sitting out, humidity can cause it to clump.

Here is the matcha powder I use.

How to whisk matcha

Use a bamboo whisk, also known as a Matcha whisk.

In a small bowl, add 1 teaspoon, and ¼ cup hot or cold water. Whisk very briskly back and forth in a straight line in a M or W shape for about 20-30 seconds until all the clumps are gone. The air will create little foam bubbles.

If you don’t have a bamboo whisk, you could also use a regular whisk, mason jar, shaker, or bottle. You can also use an inexpensive milk frother or small hand whisk to whip it up with minimal effort. 

If you’re using a regular whisk, just whisk vigorously in a M or W shape until the clumps go away, about 20-30 seconds. 

If you’re using a mason jar, shaker, or bottle, add matcha and water and shake until you see a decent layer of foam form at the top. Be careful if the water is too hot.

person mixing green tea on ceramic bowl
Photo by Cup of Couple on

How to drink matcha

What is the best temperature to heat water for matcha?

175 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is optimal for retaining its nutrients.

Matcha milk tea

Matcha tastes very good when it’s creamy and a little sweet. Try my matcha milk tea recipe here and pair it with boba.

Cold-brewed vs. hot-brewed matcha tea

Does a cold-brewed matcha tea have the same health benefits as a hot-brewed? Yes, they have the same benefits. But cool water brings out matcha’s L-theanine amino acid. In addition to the calming effect, L-theanine makes the tea taste smooth. 

The ideal temperature for matcha is about 175 degrees Fahrenheit, just before the boil, when it is simmering. When the water is too hot, it tends to bring out the tannins in matcha. Tannins remove harmful microbes from the body, and fight against harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi. Tannins can bind to proteins and carbs in food, which can minimize digestive irritation 

Matcha tea bags

Tea bags are a lighter version of drinking matcha tea from a powder source. The tea bags prevents the matcha from being released, but I like Republic of Tea as my favorite tea bag brand. It is marketed as double matcha so may be stronger and more suitable to make into a milk tea or latte. You won’t get all the nutritional benefits, but it may still taste good.

Matcha juice

Here’s a recipe for Citrus Matcha Juice.

Lemon juice or another citrus juice can increase absorption of the tea. Matcha already has a higher absorption rate compared to other green teas, but you can still add lemon juice for a boost of absorption.

Lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit are effective for catechin preservation when using 20-50% juice to matcha milk tea ratio. 

Pro Tip: It may taste better if you replace the milk with the juice, as the flavors may clash for you.

Matcha coffee 

Add a shot of espresso or strong coffee to this recipe for an extra dose of caffeine. 

Here’s a recipe for Matcha Iced Coffee.

How to eat matcha

Matcha brownies

Matcha butter mochi madelines


Store matcha in an airtight container, away from heat, sun, moisture, and light. Matcha loses its flavor, antioxidants, and freshness in 3-5 days if not properly stored. 

It’s best used 1 month after opening. If you plan on using it longer than that, store it in an airtight container in the freezer.


What kind of matcha does Starbucks use?

Starbucks sources a custom matcha blend from Japan, exclusively for Starbucks. They do not use ceremonial nor top grade matcha for their matcha drinks.

Can I drink matcha while pregnant or breastfeeding?

Yes, pregnant and nursing women can drink matcha in moderation. Matcha is a healthier alternative to coffee while pregnant. Studies have shown that staying under 200 mg per day of caffeine is safe for you and your baby’s health. That means 1 serving of matcha milk tea is alright to drink.

Matcha is a cleaner energy source for breastfeeding mothers.  Breastfeeding mothers should try to stay under 300 mg of caffeine daily.*

*As always, check with your doctor for professional medical advice.

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