Matcha tea is one of the latest health trends taking the western world by storm.
This powdered Japanese tea is rich in antioxidants and can be drunk as a tea or used in lattes, milkshakes and smoothies.
What Is Matcha Tea?
Matcha tea is made from green tea leaves that have been ground into a powder.
It’s made from the same camellia sinensis plant as regular green tea but the growing, production and preparation methods are different.
One way in which matcha tea is different to regular green tea is that the tea bushes are covered for about 20 days before harvesting to block out sunlight.
This slows the tea bushes’ growth and promotes the production of amino acids, which gives matcha its distinct flavour. The tea buds are hand-picked, dried and then ground slowly.
Since the tea leaves are ground up into a fine powder, you consume the whole of the leaf when you drink it.
This means you’ll consume more antioxidants than you would with a regular green tea.
Best Matcha Tea in the UK
Here are 5 of the best matcha teas you can buy in the UK.
1. NaturaleBio Organic Matcha Tea Powder
This premium grade organic matcha tea is produced in Japan and sold by Italian brand NaturalBio. It comes in a 100 g packet and offers better value for money than some of the alternatives.
This tea is free from pesticides and comes from Uji, near Kytoto.
According to the answer to a question on the Amazon listing, the tea is grown over 700 km (around 430 miles) from the Kagoshima nuclear power plant and is tested for radiation.
One nice touch is that when you order this tea, you get a PDF booklet with information about matcha and some recipes.
This tea seems to be high quality and offers good value for money.
2. Mighty Matcha Organic Ceremonial Grade Matcha Green Tea Powder
Mighty Matcha is one of the most popular matcha tea brands in the UK at the moment.
This organic matcha powder comes in a 30 g tin that contains around 30 servings, and can be bought in bulk to save money. However, you can’t buy a big tin of it so to save on packaging—it only comes in 30 g tins.
Some of the best things about Mighty Matcha are that it’s organic and has been tested to confirm it is heavy metal and pesticide free.
It comes from organic tea bushes grown in the Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces in China and won a Great Taste Awards Gold Star award in 2012.
According to the producers, this matcha powder is ceremonial grade, which means it uses only the highest quality tea leaves.
This tea quite sweet and not bitter unlike some other matcha teas, as long as you use water at the right temperature (70-80 °C).
However, it’s not the cheapest matcha tea out there, and some think it is overpriced.
3. Matcha Green Tea Powder by PureChimp
This matcha tea powder from British brand PureChimp comes in a 50 g glass jar that contains around 30 servings.
The glass jar can be easily recycled and doesn’t contain BPA or other harmful chemicals, unlike plastic tubs.
According to PureChimp, this tea is ceremonial grade. It has a smooth taste and isn’t bitter.
It’s suitable for making matcha lattes and adding to smoothies, and dissolves well in cold drinks.
This matcha tea isn’t organic, but you can still feel good about buying it as PureChimp give 5% of their profits to charity.
4. Kineta Finest Organic Matcha Green Tea
Kineta’s matcha tea is ceremonial grade and comes from the Kyoto region of Japan.
It’s certified organic by the Soil Association and the Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS).
This product comes in a 30 g tin which contains about 30 servings. It’s one of the most expensive matcha teas on the market, but it has a smooth taste and seems very high quality.
It’s not bitter, unlike some of the alternatives, so it could be worth the higher price.
5. Kiss Me Organics Matcha Green Tea Powder
This culinary grade matcha tea is reasonably priced and is USDA certified organic.
It’s grown in Japan and is available in either a 28 g or 113 g packet. The packet is BPA-free and resealable, so you can keep it fresh.
This powder is good to drink on its own as a tea or add to smoothies and other drinks.
The 28 g packet is one of the cheapest matcha tea products on the market, so it could be good if you just want to try out matcha tea before buying a large quantity of it.
Potential Health Benefits of Matcha Tea
There are lots of ways in which matcha tea could be good for your health. Here are three:
- High in antioxidants – The main health benefit of matcha tea is that it’s very high in antioxidants, in particular a type of antioxidant called catechins. Matcha tea contains more antioxidants than regular green tea.
This study found that matcha tea contained 137 times more of a particular catechin called epigallocatechin gallate than a low-quality green tea, (higher quality green teas fared better, but matcha tea still contained 3 times as much epigallocatechin gallate).
Antioxidants can be good for your heart health and could reduce the risk of developing certain forms of cancer, so it’s important to include them in your diet.
- Contains theanine – Theanine is a type of amino acid that only exists in tea and one species of mushroom, so matcha tea is one of the few ways to get it in your diet. Theanine has several possible health benefits including potentially reducing stress and anxiety and improving mood. This article from VeryWellFit explores theanine’s benefits in more detail.
- Could help protect the liver – Several studies suggest that drinking matcha could help protect the liver from damage. This study on rats found that matcha helped protect the liver and kidneys, while this meta-analysis found those who drank green tea were less likely to develop liver disease.
However, bear in mind that matcha contains a high amount of caffeine, so it should be drunk in moderation.
How to Tell a Good Quality Matcha
There are a number of ways in which you can tell if a matcha is good quality or not.
Some of these ways require having bought the matcha already and smelling/tasting the quality.
However, some of these points can be kept in mind when sampling matcha at a friends house or at a cafe.
Beside product reviews, there is one important factor to bear in mind upfront when browsing matcha options:
Matcha tea is renowned to have its true origins in Japan. The Japanese took the Chinese idea of grinding tea leaves and drinking them, and elevated it to a whole other level. The process by which the Japanese harvest their matcha tea, is what is known as matcha tea today.
Therefore, the origin of your matcha is extremely important. We recommend Japanese matcha, and going one step further than that, tea that originates from either Kyoto, Japan or Nishio, Japan.
All other characteristics will need to be tested out through experience alone. Enjoy experimenting with matcha through:
The colour of your matcha will be an immediate indicator. Since the Japanese perfect their matcha through the shading of the leaves during harvest, the brighter the colour of the matcha: the better the quality.
This is because the shading process increases the chlorophyll production within the leaves, which means the tea can absorb more light from the sun and hence; produce a brighter shade of green.
If the matcha is an unbelievable shade of green, you are likely onto a winner.
However, there are other ways to tell the superior quality of the matcha. There is always the possibility a company may have ‘cheated’ by artificially enhancing the colour.
These following indicators will further confirm the quality.
Feeling for the quality within the matcha is a sure indicator. Obviously, this is most likely possible once the matcha has been bought, but it is interesting to do.
Simply take a pinch of the matcha powder, and note the ‘feel’ of it between your fingers.
A superior quality has the feel of a powder eyeshadow. It is smooth, and so fine it can be smeared across a white tissue, without any gaps in the line appearing.
Smell is an invitation to taste. Smell is so important to us that we deem a food or substance ‘good’ or ‘bad’, purely on smell alone.
The smell of the matcha is therefore crucial.
The smell of a superior quality matcha will be strong, yet fresh and sweet.
Once the matcha has been whisked, notice the ‘froth’ or the ‘foam’ on top.
If the foam is thick, frothy, and creamy-this indicates a superior matcha. A thin layer on top would indicate a poorer quality matcha.
Finally the taste! The ultimate indicator!
Good quality matcha will bring about a sweet, earthy taste, with a Umani flavour.
This is due to the theanine enhanced within the tea during the shading process it undertakes.
Bitter tastes will not be experienced with a quality matcha.
We recommend trying out different matcha teas at cafes, comparing, and enquiring about the company used.
You can read a little more about the distinct characteristics of superior matcha tea here.
How to Make Matcha Tea
There are lots of different ways to prepare matcha tea, but here is a simple and quick method to make a single mug of matcha tea:
- Put between half a teaspoon and a full teaspoon in a mug. You may want to sieve the powder into the cup to prevent it from being lumpy.
- Fill about a quarter of the mug with 70-80 °C water (off the boil). Don’t use boiling water as it will make the tea bitter.
- Whisk the powder into the water using a mini whisk.
- Fill up the mug with more 70-80 °C water.
Matcha tea bags vs. powder – which is better?
Matcha is intended to be consumed fully rather than being steeped, so using matcha tea bags kind of misses the point of matcha tea. Matcha tea bags are quicker and easier to use as you don’t need to whisk the powdered tea into the water.
However, the powdered variety will usually be healthier as it allows you to consume more antioxidants and amino acids.
Does matcha tea help with weight loss?
The antioxidants in matcha tea can help raise your metabolic rate, thereby increasing the number of calories you use per day and potentially contribute to weight loss.
Some people believe that drinking green tea may also reduce appetite, though there isn’t much science to support this. Healthline have explored the relationship between green tea and weight loss in depth here.
Are there any side effects to matcha tea?
Possible side effects of matcha tea are similar to those of other caffeinated drinks:
It’s important to realise that matcha tea is stronger than regular green tea as you’re consuming the whole leaf, not just water that the leaf has been steeped in.
Does matcha tea contain caffeine?
Yes, matcha tea does contain caffeine. However, the caffeine content is still lower than that of coffee.
A mug of matcha contains around 40-50 mg of caffeine depending on the strength and serving size.
A cup of coffee contains around 95 mg of caffeine, so matcha has about half the caffeine content. Regular green tea has slightly less caffeine than matcha—around 30-40 mg per mug.
How much matcha tea is too much?
Most people advise against consuming more than 5 cups of matcha tea a day, mainly because of the caffeine content. You only need 1-2 cups a day to get the health benefits of this drink.
The NHS recommend limiting caffeine intake to 200 mg per day during pregnancy, so if you are expecting, you may want to limit your matcha consumption to 3 mugs to be on the safe side.
Matcha Tea Sets
You can drink matcha tea from a mug, but a more enjoyable way to consume matcha is with a proper Japanese tea bowl and whisk.
Matcha tea sets usually include the following:
- Tea bowl
- Bamboo whisk and whisk holder
- Scoop or spoon
One of the most popular sets available in the UK is the Goodwei Japanese Matcha Tea Ceremony Set (see below), which comes with a ceramic bowl and an 80-bristle bamboo whisk.
Having a tea set makes the whole process of making and consuming matcha feel more special and enjoyable. Using a proper bamboo whisk rather than a teaspoon also makes matcha easier to prepare.
If we had to pick just one of these products to recommend it would be NaturaleBio Organic Matcha Tea Powder as it’s organic, is grown in Japan and offers good value for money.
Laurence is the founder and editor of Naturaler. He’s been working in the online world for over 5 years and is trying to live a more natural and eco-friendly lifestyle every day.