You know matcha when you see it. Matcha is a highly concentrated uniquely vibrant green tea that also often comes in a powdered form from finely grinding condensed dried green tea leaves.
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Matcha has a good amount of theanine in it — an amino acid that partly gives matcha tea its umami (distinctively pleasant and savory) flavor. Its origins go back to ancient China but matcha has been consumed and celebrated widely in Asian and non-Asian cultures alike.
It’s most commonly known as the green tea used widely in Japanese tea ceremonies. Japanese Zen monks have also used it to stimulate alertness because of its uniquely high caffeine content.
“Green tea matcha also powder packs a pretty fierce nutritional punch,” says dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD.
Matcha tea has unique health benefits when compared with most other teas.
Matcha of any kind can be enjoyed deliciously in different ways. A little goes a long way — not only because it has such a savory flavor but also because it’s packed with all those nutrients.
Quality matcha is easily detected with a general rule of thumb — the greener, the more delicate the flavor, the better. It’s also pricier due to more meticulous production methods that preserve its hue and complex flavor.
Higher-grade matcha is generally more vibrantly green as a result of being dried in shade rather than sunlight. More expensive matcha also uses younger leaves formed at the top of the plant, which give it a much more delicate flavor.
That’s why higher-quality matcha is more suited to be enjoyed simply as tea. (Check your labels to make sure you’re not getting low-quality matcha with food coloring instead!)
“When you’re shopping for matcha, you’ll want to know what you’re getting, and the kind you should buy depends on how you plan to use it,” Zumpano says.
When you aren’t looking for high-grade matcha tea for drinking daily, Zumpano shares some of her other favorite recipes that wrap in this healthy, savory green tea powder.
Add matcha powder to your favorite smoothie recipes. Or try adding ½ tsp. of matcha to 1 cup of spinach, ½ cup almond milk plus your favorite fruit (banana, berries, apple, pineapple, mango) with ice for a creamy-smooth way to get a dose of antioxidants.
Combine chia seeds with a little almond or coconut milk. Mix in matcha and top with fruit, nuts or coconut.
Add matcha into homemade soups. It’s especially good in cucumber and asparagus soup recipes to deepen the flavor.
Sprinkle matcha into your homemade guacamole for a tastier, richer flavor to scoop up with your chia chips.
Heat ¾ cup almond or coconut milk. Mix in 1 tsp. matcha for your instant favorite beverage to get your day going (or halfway through). Remember though, matcha is full of caffeine so keep your matcha intake earlier on in the day.
Try this simple no-cook recipe. Combine 2 cups natural, unsalted, chunky peanut butter with 2 Tbsp. ground flax-seed, ½ cup dried apricots + 1 Tbsp. amber honey — then add matcha to taste. Roll out balls on parchment paper and refrigerate for a healthy, high energy snack.
“Matcha is one of the most versatile flavors out there and adds a pleasant flavor to pretty much anything it goes into,” Zumpano says. “That means you can add its health benefits daily to your diet in so many ways.”