Matcha powder has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its many touted health benefits and delicious flavor. However, high-quality matcha can be expensive.
If you're looking for more budget-friendly alternatives to matcha powder, there are several options that can provide a similar flavor, color and even health benefits.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a powdered green tea made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. It has been used for centuries in Japanese tea ceremonies.
Unlike regular green tea, matcha is made from leaves that are specifically grown and processed to maximize nutrients. The green tea plants are covered for several weeks before harvest, blocking out sunlight and increasing chlorophyll production. After harvest, the leaves are steamed, dried, destemmed and slow-ground into a fine powder.
Drinking matcha provides you with the nutrients from the entire tea leaf, making it more potent than infused green tea. It also has a bold, grassy flavor, creamy texture and vibrant green color.
Matcha is prized for its potential health benefits. It contains caffeine plus catechins and EGCG, which are antioxidants that may help boost metabolism, focus and immunity. However, high-grade ceremonial matcha can be expensive.
Best Alternatives for Taste and Color
If you're looking for matcha powder substitutes that come close in flavor, texture and vibrant color, here are some of the top options:
Powdered Mulberry Tea
Powdered mulberry tea is made from the leaves of the mulberry plant. It has a green tea-like flavor with creamy, grassy notes and a hint of sweetness.
When whisked into hot water, it produces a bright green-colored tea that looks nearly identical to matcha. Powdered mulberry tea contains no caffeine, making it a good matcha alternative in the evenings or for those sensitive to caffeine.
It can be swapped into matcha recipes at a 1:1 ratio for the closest match in taste, texture and appearance. The price is also significantly lower than ceremonial grade matcha.
Gyokuro green tea comes from the same plant species as matcha but differs in processing. The tea bushes are shaded for several weeks before harvest, similar to matcha, increasing chlorophyll content.
Gyokuro has a rich, sweet, umami flavor and green color. When brewed, it looks similar to matcha. It can be used as a substitute in recipes by steeping the tea leaves then using the concentrate.
While not exactly the same, gyokuro provides a comparable sweet flavor and green color for a lower price point than matcha.
Hojicha powder is made from roasted green tea leaves. The roasting gives hojicha powder a reddish-brown color rather than vibrant green.
However, hojicha powder has a pleasant roasted flavor with hints of caramel and smoke. It's naturally sweet with less bitterness than matcha.
Hojicha powder can be swapped 1:1 for matcha powder in recipes, lending a sweeter and lighter flavor. Just be aware that the color will be different. It's a nice change of pace from grassy green teas.
Best Alternatives for Health Benefits
Many people drink matcha for its potential health-promoting compounds. If you're looking for matcha alternatives with similar nutrients and antioxidants, these options compare:
Moringa Leaf Powder
Moringa leaf powder is made from the dried, ground leaves of the moringa tree. Like matcha powder, it dissolves in water with a stir.
Moringa contains high levels of antioxidants, vitamin C, calcium and potassium. It has over twice the amount of protein compared to matcha powder and contains all essential amino acids.
Moringa leaf powder has a green color and earthy, spinach-like taste. Its nutrient density makes it an excellent matcha alternative, especially for those following a plant-based diet.
Wheatgrass powder is made from dried and ground wheatgrass juice. It has an earthy, grassy taste similar to matcha, though lighter and sweeter.
Wheatgrass powder contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It provides vitamin C, A and E, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium and amino acids.
Wheatgrass powder can be used as a 1:1 substitute for matcha powder. It won't replicate the exact flavor but provides many nutritional benefits.
Green Rooibos Tea
Green rooibos comes from the leaves of the rooibos shrub, which is native to South Africa. It is higher in antioxidants than traditional rooibos with a fresh, grassy taste.
Green rooibos contains quercetin and luteolin, which are flavonoids with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. It also provides minerals like calcium, iron and potassium.
For a matcha alternative, steep green rooibos leaves in hot water, then use the concentrate in recipes. This antioxidant-rich tea has a similar green color and flavor to matcha.
Best Budget-Friendly Matcha Substitutes
Matcha is one of the more expensive tea options since it requires specialized processing. If you're looking for an affordable alternative, these budget-friendly options compare:
Regular Green Tea
Regular green tea comes from the same Camellia sinensis plant as matcha powder. While not exactly the same, regular green tea contains EGCG and other antioxidants at a much lower price point.
It has a light, vegetal flavor that can stand in for matcha in smoothies, lattes and baked goods. For recipes, steep the tea leaves in hot liquid to extract maximum flavor and nutrients.
Genmaicha is a Japanese green tea blended with roasted brown rice. This adds a toasty, nutty flavor that balances the vegetal green tea notes.
Genmaicha is inexpensive compared to matcha but still provides antioxidants like EGCG. Use it as you would green tea by steeping leaves in hot water, then using the concentrate.
Bancha is a lower grade of Japanese green tea made from leaves harvested later in the season. It has a stronger, bolder flavor than higher grade teas.
While not as sweet and vegetal as matcha, bancha makes an affordable substitute. Steep the leaves as you would regular green tea and use the concentrate for recipes.
Best Substitutes for Lattes and Baking
Matcha powder shines in creamy lattes and green tea-infused baked goods. For matcha alternatives that work well in these applications:
Instant Matcha Powder
Instant matcha powder is made from matcha that has been spray-dried into powder form. This makes it easier to dissolve in liquids like milk.
It has a potent green tea flavor and odor similar to real matcha. Instant matcha dissolves smoothly in lattes and adds color and flavor to baked goods.
Use instant matcha powder as you would regular matcha powder. Be aware that the antioxidant content is slightly lower since matcha is processed into powder form.
Culinary Grade Matcha
Culinary grade matcha is lower quality matcha intended for cooking rather than drinking straight. It has a bitter, astringent flavor.
Culinary grade matcha is less expensive than ceremonial grade. The strong flavor stands up well in lattes and baked goods. Use it in place of regular matcha powder in recipes.
Green Tea Extract Powder
Green tea extract powder is made by extracting nutrients and antioxidants from green tea leaves into powder form. It has an intense, concentrated green tea flavor.
The powder form dissolves easily in liquids. Use it in place of matcha powder in lattes, smoothies, frostings and more for bright green color and taste.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use regular green tea instead of matcha powder?
Yes, regular steeped green tea can stand in for matcha in a pinch. Steep the tea leaves in hot water or milk, then use the concentrate in your recipe. Keep in mind that the flavor, color, and antioxidant content won't be quite as high.
What's the closest match to real matcha powder?
Powdered mulberry tea is the closest in flavor and appearance to real matcha. It has a creamy, slightly sweet taste and vibrant green color. Moringa and gyokuro tea are also excellent options.
Which matcha substitutes work for lattes and baking?
Instant matcha, culinary grade matcha, and green tea extract powder work well for lattes, baked goods, frostings and smoothies. Their powder form incorporates easily, and they provide concentrated green tea flavor.
Are there caffeine-free matcha alternatives?
Yes, options like powdered mulberry tea, moringa powder and wheatgrass powder contain no caffeine. Rooibos and honeybush tea are naturally caffeine-free alternatives as well.
What's the most budget-friendly matcha substitute?
Regular green tea and genmaicha tea are affordable alternatives to real matcha powder. Bancha and hojicha green teas also provide savings compared to ceremonial grade matcha.
While nothing can perfectly replace real matcha powder, there are many great alternatives available. Options like powdered mulberry, gyokuro and moringa mimic matcha's flavor, color and nutrition quite closely.
Every substitute has its pros and cons in terms of taste, cost, health benefits and similarity to real matcha. Consider which features are most important to you when selecting an alternative.
Trying out various matcha powder swaps can allow you to discover new flavors and save money in the kitchen and cafe! With so many options, you're sure to find a green tea powder replacement suited to your needs.