The Real Reason Matcha Is So Expensive

If you've ever ordered a matcha tea or latte at a coffee shop, you might have found it a little pricier than a regular cup of tea. As it turns out, it has good reason to be.

Let's dial it back to the basics. According to Time, "matcha is a type of green tea made by taking young tea leaves and grinding them into a bright green powder. The powder is then whisked with hot water." Alternatively, you can add matcha powder to steamed milk for a matcha latte. Seems pretty simple, right? So, what's the big deal? As it turns out, there's a lot that goes into creating matcha powder in the first place.

When you drink traditional green tea, you're only drinking the water that the leaves have been seeping in, but with matcha, you're consuming the whole tea leaf (even if you opt for the latte). In other words, hello antioxidants! According to Healthline, drinking matcha can also help protect your liver, boost brain function, and help you lose weight. It may also help prevent cancer and promote heart health. (Is there anything matcha can't do?)

Not all matcha is created equal

Alas, not all matcha is created equal, which is where the sometimes hefty price tag comes into play. According to MyRecipes, if you want the good stuff, it'll usually cost you $15 to $25 for roughly 1-1/2 ounces, or between 20 to 25 cups of matcha (depending on how strong you take yours). Not to mention, matcha is only grown in certain parts of the world, with the highest quality usually coming from Japan.

If you take the whole process described by Time of hand-picking the leaves and grinding them into a fine powder using granite stones into consideration, matcha's high price tag seems totally justified. Did we mention people take an hour — in the dark — to grind the leaves, and it's all done to protect the nutrients? You won't be getting the stems and veins in matcha as you do with other loose leaf green teas either; those are all carefully removed, so you only get the whole tea leaves in your powder for maximum matcha goodness.

So, is matcha worth the hype (and the money)? If you're looking for a luscious nutrient-dense beverage that'll give you an extra boost of energy, a cup of morning matcha might feel like a matcha made in heaven — and next time you drink it, you might be even more appreciative of its origins.