Is Matcha Vegan? Get To Know The New Tea In Town!

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Okay, not really new, but in terms of popularity, this bright green concoction is starting to take flight! Have you had a taste yet? If not, hold it off until you’re done reading this!

What is matcha? Is matcha vegan? What’s in it? Is it a healthy beverage?

Well those were just some of the many questions in my head. That’s after I lost count of the number of times I see and hear about it!

Now, I found out that matcha may NOT be vegan! But that’s not all! Do you want to know what else I found out?

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What Is Matcha?

If you are a tea shop patron, I’m sure you’ve seen matcha in the menus. Even coffee and dessert shops serve it too!

Matcha is green tea in powder form, which has a bright green color. It’s frothy and creamy-looking, which might make you think there’s something else in it. Is there?

Well believe it or not, matcha is simply just that, ground green tea. But that gives us a new question. How is it different (or similar) from the green tea we know?

Green Tea Vs Matcha

Have you been wondering too? Before I had my first taste, I actually initially thought it’s just a new fancy name for green tea. Well, I was wrong. It’s so much more than green tea. In fact, it’s like a super green tea!

They’re both from the tea plant: camellia sinensis. However, their cultivation process differs. Unlike green tea, the shrubs for matcha production must only be grown in shades. This increases the plant’s chlorophyll levels, which is what gives matcha it’s bright green color.

Green tea leaves, on the contrary, aside from not requiring shade, are left in the sun to dry after harvesting. Matcha leaves require brief steaming before aging it in cold storage and then finally ground into a velvety powder.

Traditional green tea, as we know it, is dry leaves (loose or in tea bags) that need steeping. Matcha, although from the same source, are leaves (minus the stems and veins) ground up into powder form. They don’t need steeping. Since matcha is fine powder, you just mix it with (hot) water. Yes! Just like how you make your coffee from powder.

But what about the taste? Surprisingly, there’s a big difference! Green tea tastes leafy, and usually with a bitter aftertaste.

Matcha is known to have buttery notes and a richer flavor. While it has an initial vegetal taste, it also has a distinct umami flavor and a sweet aftertaste. The difference in taste is more noticeable when you try premium or ceremonial grade matcha tea.

Because of its powder form, which all mixes in your drink, matcha also has a much higher nutritional profile. Unlike in green tea where you have to throw the leaves away, with matcha, nothing goes to waste. This is also why its concentration of nutrients is impressively sky-high. Want to see how the two compares head to head? Or should I say, cup to cup?

Nutrients

catechins (ECGCs)

Green Tea: 63 mg
Matcha:
134 mg

Nutrients

polyphenols (tannin)

Green Tea: 7 mg

Matcha: 99 mg

Nutrients

amino acids (L-theanine)

Green Tea: 3 mg

Matcha: 45 mg

If that doesn’t impress you yet, get this: the nutrients in a cup of matcha tea is equivalent to 10-15 cups of green tea!

Matcha is green tea in powder form, which has a bright green color. It’s frothy and creamy-looking, which might make you think there’s something else in it

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Where Did Matcha Come From?

Would you believe that the matcha tea is thousands of years old already? It’s probably just starting to get popular in the West, but Asians have actually been drinking it for thousands of years!

The method of cultivation of tea plants for matcha was originally from China, sometime in the 7th-10th century. Traditionally, it was a ceremonial beverage that Zen Buddhists drink before they begin their afternoon meditation. Matcha is known to help them stay alert but calm.

In 1191, a Japanese monk came back from his spiritual studies in China carrying seeds from the tea plant. From there, the methods and practice of cultivating and blending matcha began to spread in Japan. While its popularity in China eventually came to an end, the Japanese people went on to perfect the matcha-making process.

Today, Japan is known to produce the best matcha products. Western countries are only starting to enjoy its flavor and benefits, with its popularity starting to soar. Better late than never, I guess.

Today, Japan is known to produce the best matcha products. Western countries are only starting to enjoy its flavor and benefits, with its popularity starting to soar.

Is Matcha Vegan?

It should be, right? I mean it’s just tea leaves ground into powder.

But guess what I found out!

Some matcha powders contain sugar, and not just that, it may also have milk!

For manufacturers, this doesn’t just reduce the leafy taste. It also makes matcha cheaper! This of course ruins the naturally vegan state of matcha tea.

Real, PURE MATCHA, without additives (or contaminants) is vegan.

Also, since quality is important for matcha, adding anything to the powder just spoils the entire thing. Why not just leave it to the consumers to decide whether to add anything to it, right? Besides, adding milk will also turn it into latté technically. And the sugar? Oh don’t even get me started there!

Real, PURE MATCHA, without additives (or contaminants) is vegan.

The Best Vegan Matcha Powders

Before I give you brand names, first things first. How do we blend matcha properly? Matcha powders in tin cans will come with instructions, but here’s how you can prepare yours the traditional and ceremonial way:

  1. Sift 1-2 tsps. of matcha powder into a tea bowl. Some brands do not require sifting though.
  2. Pour 2 oz. hot water (near boil temperature).
  3. Whisk with a bamboo brush until frothy.
  4. It’s ready to drink! Finish your matcha before the powder settles!

Complete matcha sets for ceremonial mixing styles are usually available from matcha brands like Jade Leaf and Kenko.

If you’ve been a matcha lover for quite some time now, you’d know there’s 2 types of powders you can get:

  1. culinary grade – for baking, cooking, smoothies, lattés, and other beverage mixtures.
  2. ceremonial grade – the highest grade there is, and the only one recommended to be consumed by itself.  

Industrial and commercial matcha powders are the lowest grade which are only for flavoring use.

Now here are some vegan matcha brands with pure ingredients and nothing else!

Complete matcha sets for ceremonial mixing styles are usually available from matcha brands like Jade Leaf and Kenko.

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Vegan Matcha Green Tea Recipes

Another great thing about matcha is it can blend perfectly with either sweet or savory foods. This is why matcha has also become a popular flavor. Do you love matcha? Whether you do for its health benefits or just for its unique taste, there are many ways to have it!

Vegan Matcha Latté from Minimalist Baker

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 tsp vegan matcha powder
  • 1 Tbsp sweetener (adjust to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp hot water
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup macadamia nut milk

Procedure:

  1. Combine matcha powder and sweetener with hot water and whisk thoroughly. You can also just use a blender if you don’t have a bamboo or metal whisk.
  2. Mix coconut and macadamia milk together then heat up in microwave or stovetop until steamy.
  3. Pour the hot milk in the liquid matcha and whisk or blend together until frothy. Add more sweetener if you prefer. Enjoy it fresh!

If you want it cold, just skip heating up the milk. Instead, combine milk with liquid match, add ice, and shake everything in a jar.

Matcha Smoothie Vegan-Style

Vegan Matcha Desserts

Vegan Matcha Cake

Vegan Matcha Ice Cream

I know, I know. It’s easier to just buy ice cream than make it. But so far, I’ve only seen Van Leeuwen offer a vegan matcha flavor. You can also try your luck at vegan restaurants though.

Nonetheless, here are some easy recipes you can try at home, no ice cream machines necessary! Just use your food processor, blender, or electric mixer!

Vegan Matcha Cookies

Another great thing about matcha is it can blend perfectly with either sweet or savory foods. This is why matcha has also become a popular flavor.

BONUS: To learn how to make your very own matcha drinks, and snacks, check out the video below!

The Pros And Cons Of Matcha Consumption

Pros:

  • Boosts energy longer than coffee without the jitters and crash (calm energy)
  • Improves metabolism
  • Enhances immunity
  • Helps to prevent degenerative diseases
  • Fights aging
  • High-fiber
  • Good for skin
  • Reduces stress levels
  • Reduces risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels
  • Mood and memory enhancer
  • Natural detoxifier
  • May decrease cancer growth
  • May reverse diabetes

Cons:

  • Some brands (especially those from China) may contain high amounts of heavy metals like lead (choose lead-free brands)
  • high caffeine at 70 mg per cup (coffee has 95)

The pros obviously outweigh the cons by miles! You can enjoy all these without worries just by choosing brands carefully. And of course, try not to have too much of it! Most brands suggest a daily maximum between 2-5 cups only.

Conclusion

Pure matcha powder is naturally vegan. While there are brands that add sweeteners and creamers, pure powders are still more common. However, although matcha is a quite superfood, try not to take more than 2 cups a day. Matcha is high in caffeine, and some powders may also contain lead.

One cup of matcha is already unbelievably nutritious anyway, you won’t really need a lot.

Hey vegan matcha lovers! How do you get your daily dose of this super tea? Let me know on the comment section below. And don’t forget to share this article in your favorite social media platform.

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