All tea varieties in the world exist in different qualities. The same is true for Matcha tea. The quality of Matcha tea depends almost completely on the quality of the original tea, of Tencha. Region, geographical conditions of the tea growing area (Low land, High land, hillside), the specialty skills of the tea farmers, the variety of the tea bush, all these factors add up to unique qualities of Tencha tea. Once ground by stone mills into a fine powder, different Matcha qualities will be the result. There are three elements that distinguish Matcha from regular green tea in powder form:
Matcha is sweet and smooth with just a hint of astringency. The sweetness comes from the naturally occurring L-Theanine amino acids and plant fibers. Green tea powder, on the other hand, tends to lack active amino acids, resulting in a comparatively flat and abrasive taste.
Matcha is resiliently emerald green while green tea powder is often yellow-brown. This is because quality Matcha is ground into a fine powder using slow-turning granite grinding wheels. Friction is minimized and tea leaves are not "burned" in the process, allowing the leaves to retain chlorophyll. In contrast, regular green tea powder is often pulverized using air pressure. The friction caused by this process "over-cooks" the leaves, rendering them yellow-brown.
With its high concentration of L-Theanine amino acids, Matcha provides most consumers with a delicate energy boost lasting from 3 to 6 hours. However, with green tea powder, the amino acids are comparatively fewer and do not have the same functional properties.