As far as I’m concerned, green tea is one of the healthiest and best drinks in the world. But which is better for you: is it Sencha or matcha green tea?
Here in Britain, where I live, most people drink black tea (with milk usually), but green tea’s popularity started to increase over a decade ago when numerous reports were coming out about green tea’s health benefits.
I like most people also drank only black tea, but I thought I’d give green tea a try.
I wasn’t impressed! Tea without milk?!
But gradually, over about a week or so, I started to really enjoy the natural flavor of the tea and I hate to go a day without it.
That was over 14 years ago. Since that time I’ve followed up with some of the research behind the benefits of green tea and also experimented with different types of tea.
I like the old Chinese proverb which says:
“Better to be without food for three days than without tea for one day”
Green tea is my favorite drink now. I drink many cups every day, and I drink both sencha and matcha green tea. When I drink sencha green tea, I’ll often add turmeric and ginger.
Cute green tea advert 🙂
The difference between Sencha and Matcha Green tea
Both green teas come from the exact same plant. But there are key differences which distinguish them both and provide different levels of nutrients and benefits.
Below details some of those differences.
Matcha Green Tea
In Japan, there are different grades of matcha green tea which are produced.
- Culinary grade
- Premium grade
- Ceremonial grade
Here is a good ceremonial tea – the best grade of matcha green tea that you can get.
It has a brilliant green tea color from the high level of chlorophyll produced by the leaves and doesn’t taste as bitter as the lower quality or basic green tea.
This occurs because of the way matcha green tea is grown. They are shade-grown for 20 days before harvest.
As a result of this, not only does chlorophyll levels increase (how the plant converts sunlight into energy), you have higher levels of l-theanine and other nutrients.
The best teas are picked by hand, usually in the month of May.
Later, the leaves are steamed to help preserve the color and nutrients of the leaves.
Then the leaves are sorted and graded, destemmed and deveined.
And it’s ready to be ground down into a powder, to what we call Matcha (means ground tea).
Matcha Powder can be used for many things
That great thing about matcha powder is that you can use it as an ingredient for all sorts of things.
Here’s a few off the top of my head:
- Throw some matcha powder into your favorite green smoothie!
- Add it to almond milk or soy milk
- Matcha green tea ice lollies
- Add matcha to your morning oatmeal
- Matcha Green Tea popcorn
I’m sure if you do a little google search you can find loads of amazing matcha green tea recipes.
Sencha Green Tea
Most people who drink green tea are far more familiar with sencha green tea. It’s the green tea that I’ve mostly consumed over the years as well.
It has a different color than matcha and has a mild refreshing aroma.
The tea comes from the same plant, but it’s grown and processed differently than matcha.
The plant is left to grow in direct sunlight and the best quality leaves are usually harvested in the first flush.
Once the young green tea leaves from the top of the plant are picked, the leaves undergo steaming for about 1 minute. (Chinese green teas are pan-fried).
After this, the leaves are dried and rolled and ready to be shipped to us tea lovers! 🙂
The perfect brew: if you leave tea bags in the cup for too long, it can be a bit too strong and some people don’t tolerate the bitterness from the tannins.
When making the tea, make sure the water is not boiling.
Which is the best green tea to drink for health benefits?
Both green teas contain high levels of compounds which are very beneficial to human health. Some of the benefits of drinking green tea may include the following:
- Prevention of certain types of cancer
- Prevention of heart disease
- Protects against arthritis
- Destroys viruses and bacteria
- Helps protect the brain from neurodegeneration and damage from stroke
- Possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits
- Boosts the immune system and primes it to defend against pathogens
- Protects against diabetes
One of the main polyphenols in green tea which is thought to be responsible for a lot of these benefits is called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (or let’s just call it EGCG from now).
Some of the beneficial effects could also be attributed to the amino acid l-theanine, which calms the nervous system and is also able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Which tea has more catechins?
In 2003 researchers looked to quantitate the level of these beneficial polyphenols in Japanese Matcha green tea and compare it to China Green Tea Tips.
The results were clear: Matcha green tea has significantly more EGCG than Sencha green tea from China.
Per gram of dry leaf, the amount of EGCG available from Matcha green tea was 137 times more.
The amount of EGCG in green tea can vary greatly. This is why it is important to pick a high-grade green tea if you want to get the most benefits from green tea.
That number sounds large. But you should consider that the green tea tested in the study was much lower than what has been found by the USDA for many different brands of green tea.
The study found that China Green Tea Tips had 0.42 mg of EGCG per 1 gram and Magic Matcha green tea had 57.4 mg per 1 gram.
Choosing Matcha over Sencha green tea seems like it would be a good choice if it’s catechins you want.
Quality Control: contamination
There have been various studies looking at the levels of various heavy toxic metals in popular green teas from China, India, and Japan.
A few studies have recently been published showing that drinking teas sourced from any of these countries are safe and should not pose any harmful risk to humans.
However, in the video below, Dr. Michael Gregor points out that if you are consuming the leaves, then consuming anything other than Japanese Green tea could be risky.
Green tea is a very healthy beverage to consume and is full of minerals, amino acids, and polyphenols that are beneficial to health.
If you’re not already a green tea drinker, then gives it a try. Most stores sell green tea in a large variety of flavors such as lemon, coconut, ginger, cranberry and more. But do try the regular plain green tea as well! 🙂
One word of caution: although green tea is good for you, drinking excessive amounts is not. There have been case reports where people have taken large doses of green tea supplements and drunk so much green tea, that it caused serious health problems and affected their liver.
This is not a concern for the average person. But you know, some people take it a bit overboard and go crazy with it.
I personally drink up to 10 cups of green tea per day. This should be absolutely fine for most people.
Do you have any creative recipes with matcha green tea? if you do, share below! 🙂