Matcha is not the typical green tea. Although they come from the same plant Camellia sinensis, Matcha contains much more nutrients than the typical green tea. 1 cup of Matcha tea is equivalent to 10-15 cups of typical green tea. Organic premium grade Matcha powder is made from first flush tea leaves. The finest Matcha is produced from young and tender leaves. The tea leaves are then steamed, dried and then milled into fine Matcha powder.
When harvesting the leaves for matcha, they are graded according to their taste, flavor and aroma properties. With the Ceremonial grade of matcha, only the youngest, greenest and most delicate leaves are used. This enhances the natural sweetness of the tea, leaves no traces of bitterness, and results in a more vibrant green color of matcha. Additionally, with the Ceremonial grade, more care is taken to remove all traces of stems and veins from the tea leaves. This produces a softer, lighter tea powder that gives more froth when whisked and again more natural sweetness compared to the Culinary grade.
Matcha by its very method of production is very time consuming, and therefore a more costly tea to produce than regular tea. The shading of the tea fields, the harvesting by hand, the grading of the tea leaves after harvesting, all take more labor cost. The stone grinding on hand carved granite blocks consumes time as well. All these steps require more labor, time and therefore add more cost. It is also entirely produced in Japan, by sustainable tea growers who have been producing Matcha for over 100 years. So the labor costs are higher than tea from other countries such as China or Sri Lanka. Additionally, 99% of the matcha produced in Japan is consumed in Japan. Very little is exported though that is starting to change. So by the laws of supply and demand it is costly to buy as well as ship to other countries.
Yes - matcha contains caffeine. For half a teaspoon of matcha there is about 25-30 mg of caffeine. This is less than a regular coffee. However because of the large amounts of L-Theanine in matcha - a amino acid that boosts relaxation, the caffeine in matcha is delivered to your body over a long period. So you will get raised energy levels for much longer than coffee, and without any 'crash' that you can get after drinking coffee. Many caffeine sensitive people report that they can handle matcha in small doses while they can't handle coffee.
If you are sensitive to caffeine then you may need to limit your intake to 1-2 servings per day. As matcha raises energy levels for quite a long period (4-6 hours), keep that in mind if you have to sleep soon.