Chai vs Matcha: Teatime Turf War is Heating Up

Chai vs matcha is a comparison a lot of people make. Both of these teas are often featured as lattes at coffee shops around the world, but they both have a much deeper tradition behind them.

In this article, we are going to compare chai vs matcha caffeine, chai tea vs matcha preparation and more. We’ll show you the unique strengths of each of these beverages so you can make the decision for yourself.

Let’s get started!


A Brief Overview of Chai vs Matcha

Before we compare chai vs matcha, we should do a brief summary of each. It’s important to remember that “chai” is the hindi word for tea, but it is often used to describe a tea made from black tea leaves, hot milk and a mixture of herbs and spices. 

What is Matcha?

Matcha powder is essentially a powdered green tea, but it has to be made from special leaves. High quality ceremonial matcha is naturally smooth, nutritional dense and very difficult to make. This tea is what is used in the Japanese tea ceremony. 

If you want to learn more about matcha, we made a whole encyclopedia about it! You can read it here 👉 What is Matcha? The one and only Matcha-Encyclopedia

What is Chai?

Chai tea is usually used to refer to a tea that is made by brewing black tea leaves and spices in milk and water and then pouring it through a strainer.

This drink has a long history of being used throughout the Indian subcontinent.


The Production of Chai vs Matcha

Now that we’ve covered the basic differences between chai vs matcha, it’s time to talk about how each tea is produced. Let’s compare the production of chai tea vs matcha.

If you want to take a deep dive into the production of matcha tea, we recommend you read this article here 👉 How is Matcha Made?

Matcha Tea Production


The farmers work begins even before the tea plant is harvested. When the tea plant is exposed to sunlight, it begins to produce bitter compounds called catechins. 

For most premium Japanese green teas like matcha, gyokuro and a lot of sencha teas, the farmer will cover the tea plants in a special type of netting in order to block out the sun and maintain a sweeter taste.


After the tea plants have been shaded for 3 weeks, they are ready to be harvested. Premium ceremonial matcha has to be made from the top 3 sprouts of the tea plant, as these are the highest in nutrients and flavor.


After the tea leaves have been picked and gathered, it is time for them to be processed. The leaves are put through a steam bath which stops them from oxidizing and locks in their vegetal flavor profiles. 

The stems of the leaves are also removed to ensure the matcha has a smoother and sweeter flavor.


Once the leaves are dried, they are ready to be ground. This grinding process takes place in a large stone mill. It takes this granite mill an hour just to produce 50 grams of matcha powder. 

Chai Tea (Indian Black Tea) Production

When we talk about chai tea, the leaves that are typically used are Indian black tea leaves. Let’s take a look at the harvesting and processing of this black tea. 


High quality black teas are typically made with a younger picking, using the top 3 leaves of the plant. While these teas are processed using the Orthodox method which involves careful rolling to maintain a larger leaf size, lower quality black teas are made using a different method.

The CTC or Cut Tear Curl method was invented to produce black teas on a larger scale. After the leaves are withered, they are fed into a machine that cuts them into smaller pieces so that they can fit into a teabag. This process is one of the many reasons why loose leaf tea is far superior to tea bag tea. 


What makes chai tea vs matcha different is that matcha is a green tea and chai tea is an oxidized black tea. Green teas like matcha are heated after the harvest in order to stop the oxidation process. To accelerate the oxidation process, black teas are slightly bruised to expose the juices of the leaf to oxygen. 

Black teas are then allowed to oxidize naturally and during that time they take on a darker color and a completely different flavor. Oxidized teas brew a reddish or amber liquor which is why they are called red teas in China, rather than black teas. 


After the leaves have been oxidized they can be sorted by size and separated with the larger leaves being used for high quality loose leaf tea and the smaller leaves used for low quality tea bag tea. 


Chai vs Matcha Flavor

The flavor differences between chai vs matcha are staggering! In addition to being made from black tea leaves, chai also incorporates various herbs and spices, giving it a completely different flavor profile.

Chai Flavor

The flavor of chai can be described as spicy, but depending on how you make it, the tea can also be sweet and milky. 

Herbs like ginger, cinnamon and peppercorn can really bite the tongue, but the black tea and cardamom can add a lot of depth to the tea making it a very nuanced flavor profile.

Another spicy ingredient that can also work well in the chai latte is turmeric. If you want to learn more about how this can work well with matcha, you can read our article 👉 Benefits of Matcha Green Tea with Turmeric

Matcha Flavor

Although matcha is simply made from powdered tea leaves, the flavor can be remarkably nuanced. Most high quality matcha teas have a milky smooth mouthfeel, and notes of steamed vegetables.

Some matcha teas are even more complex, with floral notes or notes of white chocolate and coconut milk. 

If you want to become an expert on the flavor of matcha, you may want to take a look at this article here 👉 What does matcha taste like? Taste Chart with Video


Chai vs Matcha Caffeine

When we compare chai vs matcha caffeine content we notice a slight disparity between the two teas.

Let’s go through a quick comparison between chai vs matcha when it comes to the caffeine content of each of the teas. 

By the way, if you want to learn about which teas are highest in caffeine and which ones are lowest, you can find this full guide here 👉 Which tea has the most caffeine

Matcha Caffeine Content

A high quality matcha tea contains 34mg of caffeine per gram of powder. This may not sound like much, but a typical bowl will contain 2 grams of powder and half a cup of water. This means a full cup of matcha can have as much as 136mg of caffeine!

This is more than coffee, but you may not feel the same jolt. That’s because matcha contains l-theanine which can buffer the negative side effects of caffeine like jitters, anxiety and the crash. Instead, tea drinkers report having a longer lasting, calm alert sensation that carries them throughout the day. 

Chai Caffeine Content

A typical chai tea latte has about 70mg of caffeine per cup. This means the chai vs matcha caffeine is relatively small by comparison. The caffeine all comes from the black tea leaves, as the typical spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper are all caffeine free.

It is important to point out that even though the chai vs matcha caffeine is smaller, it still has almost as much caffeine as a small cup of coffee which is significant. 

How does matcha compare to other high caffeine drinks? We made a whole article comparing matcha tea vs the caffeine heavyweight Yerba Mate, and you can read all about it here 👉 Yerba Mate vs Matcha: a Battle is Brewing


Chai vs Matcha Preparation

There are big differences between chai tea vs matcha when it comes to the preparation of the two teas. Both teas are prepared in very unique ways, and we’re going to discuss each of them here.

Matcha Preparation

Matcha is unique in the world of tea because it comes in a powder rather than a loose leaf form. This means it can be mixed directly into water rather than being infused.

When you mix matcha powder into water, you are consuming the entire leaf, rather than just the water soluble components. This means that you get more of the caffeine, amino acids and antioxidants.

If you want to learn how to prepare matcha tea the proper way, we made the perfect guide for you! 👉 How to Make the Best Matcha

Chai Preparation

The preparation of chai vs matcha is very different. Chai tea is almost prepared more like a soup rather than a tea. The water is boiled with various herbs and spices, then the tea is brewed and the milk is added. 

After everything has been brewed and simmered inside the pot, the mixture is poured through a strainer. This means that chai tea is more of an infusion rather than a mixture, but it does include elements of both. 


Chai Tea vs Matcha Health Benefits

The benefits of chai tea vs matcha are very similar. Both drinks are rich in antioxidants and can be beneficial to our health, but they each have their own particular strength.

For a complete list of the health benefits of matcha, you can read this article here 👉 What do Scientists say about Matcha Benefits? Find Out Here

Chai Tea Health Benefits

The blend of black tea, various spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves, creates a concoction rich in antioxidants and bioactive compounds. These components have been associated with anti-inflammatory properties and potential benefits for heart health. 

Additionally, chai tea's spice mix can aid digestion, alleviate nausea, and promote a sense of warmth and comfort.

Matcha Health Benefits

Bursting with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, matcha plays a role in combating oxidative stress and reinforcing the immune system.

Its distinctive cultivation process, including shading the leaves, results in elevated levels of chlorophyll and L-theanine amino acids. 

This unique blend offers a harmonious surge of energy and concentration, minus the edginess that caffeine sometimes triggers. 

Matcha has been associated with potential benefits like revved-up metabolism, sharpened cognitive function, and potential heart health support.



Chai vs Matcha the Final Verdict

When we compare chai vs matcha it is easy to see the differences. These teas taste different, they are prepared differently and they are produced differently. 

These teas do however share a lot of similarities. They both come from the same plant and they are both healthy and flavorful beverages. It doesn’t matter which one you decide is better, you can benefit from incorporating both into your daily routine.

If you enjoyed this article, we strongly advice you to make sure to read 👉 Yerba Mate vs Matcha: a Battle is Brewing

Where to Get Good Matcha

If you are interested in getting some matcha for yourself. You can try some of the best matcha teas we’ve found during our travels around Japan.

After meeting with dozens of farmers and sampling hundreds of different matcha teas, we have found a small handful of our favorites and we are happy to send them to all of you with free shipping worldwide.

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