What is matcha?
Matcha is a type of powdered green tea that has gained popularity for its unique flavor and potential health benefits. It is made from shade-grown tea leaves, which are stone-ground into a fine, vibrant green powder.
What are the benefits of matcha?
Matcha tea is an easy and simple way to add powerful health benefits to your everyday diet, such as:
→ High EGCG content, a potent antioxidant
→ Natural L-theanine boosts focus, calms the mind, and relaxes the body
→ Enhancing mood, alleviating depression, and boosting concentration
→ Boosting metabolism and burning calories
→ Detoxifying effectively and naturally
→ Its nutrient-rich profile of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and chlorophyll
→ Providing vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc, and magnesium
→ Preventing disease
→ Lowering cholesterol and blood sugar
What is EGCG?
EGCG is an antioxidant that can combat free radical damage. EGCG is at least 100 times more effective than vitamin C and 25 times more effective than vitamin E at protecting cells from damage associated with oxidative stress, which is linked to a wide range of diseases including heart disease and cancer.
Does matcha have caffeine?
Matcha does contain caffeine. The caffeine content in matcha can vary but is generally higher than in regular green tea. On average, matcha contains about 35 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce (240-milliliter) serving, although it can range from 30-70 milligrams per serving.
What is matcha?
Matcha is popular in health stores and coffee shops, available as matcha shots, lattes, teas, and desserts.
Like green tea, matcha comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. However, it’s grown differently and has a unique nutrient profile.
For starters, the plants used for matcha are grown under shade for most of their growth period. This reduction of direct sunlight increases the plants' chlorophyll production and amino acid content, giving them a darker green hue.
The farmers then remove the stems and veins before grinding the leaves into a fine powder. This is matcha.
Studies of matcha and its components have unearthed a variety of benefits, showing that it can help protect the liver, promote heart health, and even aid in weight loss.
Matcha vs. green tea: Comparing their benefits.
Every time you brew a cup of green tea, you throw away valuable antioxidants and minerals. That's because water can only extract a fraction of green tea's benefits. The remaining nutrients are unused, locked in the tea leaves.
The only way to truly benefit from green tea's full potential is to consume the entire leaf. But before you start munching on tea leaves, it might just be easier to enjoy a bowl of matcha. Because matcha is made from stone-ground tea leaves, it delivers green tea's entire arsenal of potent antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in a way no other green tea can.
In fact, to even begin to match the potency found in a single serving of matcha, you would need to drink at least ten cups of brewed green tea.
So, when it comes to helping you achieve and maintain optimum health & overall well-being, matcha is without equal.
Here are 7 possible health benefits and advantages of consuming matcha.
- Matcha tea is a kind of green tea. It may be good for your heart, weight, and other aspects of health due to its antioxidant content. It’s also easy to incorporate into your diet.
- When you drink matcha you ingest the entire leaf and receive 100% of the nutrients of the leaf.
- Matcha powdered green tea has 137 times more antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea.
- One cup of matcha = 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea in terms of nutritional content
- Did you know that one serving of matcha tea is the nutritional equivalent of 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea?
1. Matcha is an antioxidant powerhouse.
One of the major health benefits of matcha tea is that it delivers a mega dose of antioxidants in every sip. According to the latest innovation in antioxidant research, matcha is packed with exponentially more antioxidants than any other superfood.
Matcha is rich in catechins, a class of plant compounds in tea that act as natural antioxidants.
Antioxidants help stabilize harmful free radicals, compounds that can damage cells and cause chronic disease.
As mentioned earlier, matcha is grown in the shade. When the leaves are harvested, the catechin content is initially lower than in other types of green tea. However, once matcha is dissolved in water, it produces 3 times more catechins than the loose-leaf form of green tea.
One study showed that giving mice matcha supplements reduced damage caused by free radicals and enhanced antioxidant activity.
Including matcha in your diet could increase your antioxidant intake, which may help prevent cell damage and lower your risk of several chronic diseases.
What makes matcha tea an antioxidant powerhouse?
One of the biggest buzzwords in health and nutrition, antioxidants are naturally occurring chemical compounds that prevent aging and chronic diseases. Nowadays, a variety of fruits and vegetables are lauded for their antioxidant properties, leading to a host of products with all kinds of claims.
But none can match matcha's antioxidant benefits. You might even say it's unmatchable (sorry, I just had to).
Firstly, matcha is packed with exponentially more antioxidants according to the latest innovation in antioxidant research.
When researchers at Tufts University conducted an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) test, they discovered that matcha has a staggering 20x higher antioxidant content than pomegranates or blueberries.
Matcha's ORAC rating is a mighty 1,573 units per gram, compared to pomegranate's 105 units per gram or blueberry's 93 units per gram.
Why does this matter?
Antioxidants are the body’s defense agents. They are chemical compounds that prevent aging and chronic diseases. Put simply, the more you have, the better equipped your body is in the fight against infections and disease.
Your body naturally has antioxidant defenses built into it, but factors like stress, aging, inflammation, chronic diseases (like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer), poor diet, smoking and alcohol, and excessive oxidative stress can overwhelm them, which accelerates aging and increases the risk of chronic health conditions.
Matcha contains a high dose of powerful antioxidants, which may reduce cell damage and prevent chronic disease.
2. Matcha gives you significantly more energy than other teas.
One sought-after health benefit of matcha tea is that drinkers experience a boost of energy throughout the day. In one study, researchers thought that this was due to matcha's caffeine content, but found that it was actually due to the synergistic benefits of matcha’s nutrient profile. Another recent study found that matcha even improved physical endurance by 24%.
Even if you aren’t facing a grueling workout, matcha can help you through the everyday marathon, whether it’s that project due the next day or getting the kids from school to soccer practice.
But you won't feel as jittery as you might from a cup of joe.
Matcha powder has about 3x more caffeine than other brewed teas.
Black tea has 47 mg of caffeine per cup, and green tea has 28 mg, while matcha has a whopping 70 mg of caffeine. That's about the same energy benefit—or slightly less than—a cup of coffee, which has around 96 mg of caffeine per cup (given that different coffees have varying levels of caffeine).
However, matcha powder also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to reduce stress. One 2016 study found that drinking a beverage like green tea with around 25 mg of L-theanine can be extremely effective at reducing stress and increasing the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.
Matcha can also make you more productive.
According to a 2017 study published in Food Research International, people who drank matcha specifically (not just plain old green tea) experienced a slight increase in attention and processing speed an hour later—likely thanks to L-theanine, the antioxidant EGCG (a major energy-boosting polyphenol), and caffeine.
Matcha can boost energy levels, improve physical endurance, and enhance productivity without the jitters, with the added benefit of reducing stress.
3. Matcha boosts brain function and protects your brain.
Some research shows that several of the components in matcha help enhance brain function and protect it for long-term brain health
Drinking matcha every day may help slow cognitive decline, according to a small 2020 study published in the journal Nutrients. That's because matcha is packed with vitamin K and lutein, both of which have been associated with improved cognitive functioning such as attention and memory.
Some participants consumed either matcha tea or a bar containing 4 grams of matcha, while the control group consumed a placebo tea or bar.
Those who consumed matcha showed improvements in attention, reaction time, and memory compared with those consuming the placebo.
Another small study showed that consuming 2 grams of green tea powder daily for 2 months helped improve brain function in older people.
Matcha has a higher concentration of caffeine than green tea, which is studied to boost brain function. Depending on the type, brand, and processing, green tea tends to contain around 11–25 milligrams per gram (mg/g), while matcha contains 19–44 mg /g.
How does the amino acid L-theanine help me focus?
Over a thousand years ago, matcha came to Japan as an aid to meditation practice. During long hours of sitting and meditating, monks would drink matcha to remain alert yet calm.
Modern science has recently confirmed the wisdom of this centuries-old tradition.
Matcha is rich in L-theanine, a rare amino acid that promotes a state of relaxation and well-being by stimulating brain waves that alter the brain's functioning.
While stress can induce beta waves in an excited, more agitated state, L-theanine promotes alpha waves, which are found in meditation and lead to a state of relaxed alertness. And while L-theanine is common in all tea, matcha may contain up to five times more of this amino acid than common black and green teas.
As an additional benefit, L-theanine may help memory, learning, and productivity while inhibiting any possible side effects from caffeine. Therefore, a bowl of matcha promotes concentration and clarity of mind without any of the nervous energy found in coffee.
This makes matcha a suitable pick-me-up in the afternoon or any time you need extra focus. However, we recommend limiting consumption after 3pm.
Matcha has been shown to improve attention, memory, and reaction time. It also contains caffeine and L-theanine, which can improve several aspects of brain function.
4. Matcha helps you lose weight.
Green tea is well known for its ability to enhance weight loss and often features in weight loss supplements.
A 2020 review concluded that, together with dietary measures and exercise, taking up to 500 mg per day of green tea for 12 weeks might reduce body mass index (BMI).
Although most studies have focused on green tea, matcha comes from the same plant and contains similar compounds.
What unique properties of matcha support weight loss?
Not only is matcha nearly calorie-free, but it also helps boost metabolism and burn fat.
One recent study even suggested that matcha may help burn calories by four times. At the same time, matcha does not put any stress on the body. It doesn’t raise blood pressure or heart rate, making it a safe alternative to questionable quick fixes or pharmaceuticals ridden with side effects.
A study featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming matcha green tea can increase thermogenesis (the body’s own rate of burning calories) from a normal 8%-10% of daily energy expenditure, to between 35% and 43% of daily energy expenditure.
Here's how matcha's unique nutrient profile can help increase weight loss:
- Can help you lose fat: Green tea contains bioactive substances like caffeine and EGCG, which can have powerful effects on metabolism.
- Can metabolize fat from cells: Compounds in green tea increase levels of hormones that tell fat cells to break down fat. This releases fat into the bloodstream and makes it available as energy.
- Increases fat burning, especially during exercise: Several studies show that green tea extract can boost fat burning. The effect is even stronger during exercise.
- Boosts your metabolic rate: Several studies suggest that green tea can boost metabolism and help people burn 3–4% more calories each day.
- Can help you lose harmful abdominal fat: Green tea extract or catechin supplements may help you lose visceral fat — a fat that is particularly harmful to your health.
Some studies show that matcha green tea extract helps increase metabolism and fat burning, both of which may aid weight loss.
5. Matcha may help protect the liver.
The liver is vital to health and plays a central role in detoxification, flushing out toxins, metabolizing drugs, and processing nutrients. Some studies have found that matcha may help protect the health of your liver.
A 2015 review of 15 studies found that drinking green tea was associated with a decreased risk of liver disease.
A 2021 study found that matcha green tea was found to help reduce obesity-related issues, such as high blood sugar and liver enzyme levels, possibly by affecting certain genes and pathways involved in fat metabolism and inflammation.
However, in 2020, some experts noted that while matcha may benefit people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by reducing liver enzymes, it may increase liver enzymes in people without NAFLD.
More research is needed to look at the effects of matcha on the general population since most research is limited to studies examining the effects of green tea extract in animals.
Some studies have shown that matcha could prevent liver damage and decrease the risk of liver disease. However, additional studies are needed to look at the effects on humans in the general population.
6. Matcha may help prevent cancer.
Matcha contains some compounds that have been linked to cancer prevention in both in-vitro (test tube) and in-vivo (live) studies.
For instance, matcha is high in epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a type of catechin that is researched and utilized for its powerful anti-cancer properties.
What are green tea catechins, and why are they so important in anti-cancer diets?
Matcha tea contains a unique, potent class of antioxidant known as catechins, which aren’t found in other foods. In particular, the catechin EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) provides potent cancer-fighting properties.
Most importantly, EGCG and other catechins counteract the effects of free radicals from the likes of pollution, UV rays, radiation, and toxins, which can lead to cell and DNA damage. Since over 60% of the catechins in matcha are actually EGCG, a daily matcha regimen can help restore and preserve the body’s integral well-being and balance.
Test tube and animal studies have found that the compounds in matcha may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Most importantly, EGCG and other catechins in matcha counteract the effects of free radicals from the likes of pollution, UV rays, radiation, and toxins that increase the risk of cancer.
7. Matcha may promote heart health.
Some research has suggested that drinking green tea, which has a similar nutrient profile to matcha, may help protect against heart disease.
Green tea consumption has been linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with coffee, and some studies have suggested it might help lower the risk of high blood pressure and other complications in people with heart disease.
The compounds in matcha are similar to those in green tea, and some have suggested it may have similar benefits. However, at least one animal study on white rabbits appears to contradict this claim.
Studies show that green tea and matcha can decrease several heart disease risk factors.
8. Matcha's chlorophyll-rich content helps you detox.
Green is truly the color of health. Matcha helps to safely cleanse and purge the body of harmful elements.
Chlorophyll the element that gives green tea and other plants their signature verdant color is also a powerful detoxifier, helping to eliminate both chemicals and heavy metals from the body. And because matcha is carefully shade-grown, it is substantially richer in chlorophyll than other green teas, making it a superior daily detox.
There are many ways to prepare matcha, so you can choose the one you like best. It can also be incorporated into a range of different recipes.
9. Bonus: 16 additional benefits of matcha.
As a bonus, here are 16 additional matcha benefits—according to data from leading nutritional experts and scientists—that we found most exciting when exploring how matcha may help support optimal health & well-being.
- Melts away anxiety
- Boosts mood
- Combats depression
- Helps you tap into meditation with more ease
- Increases short-term memory
- Improves skin health
- Boosts immune function (EGCg binds to cells in the body and inhibits the growth of many disease-causing microorganisms including influenza A virus, Hepatitis Virus, Herpes Virus, and the bacteria that cause Strep Throat)
- Supports hormonal balance
- Is a natural aphrodisiac
- Supports healthy hair and scalp
- Improves sleep quality
- Supports dental and oral health
- A natural anti-inflammatory for arthritis
- Helps keep you regular 💩
- Naturally supports fertility
- Beneficial for bone health at any age
Can I drink matcha when fasting?
You can enjoy a cup of matcha without worrying about breaking your fast. When prepared traditionally, matcha has practically zero calories and may even help boost weight-loss results when intermittent fasting.
There are a few caveats, however.
Matcha with stevia and other artificial sweeteners may not be as effective for a fasting regimen as drinking matcha alone. That’s because certain artificial sweeteners have been identified as impacting glucose and insulin pathways similar to actual sugar.
If you enjoy a sweeter matcha, it’s not to say you won’t get the fasting boost from matcha, but it might not be as powerful. Instead, you might consider a ceremonial grade matcha, which is naturally sweet.
When it comes to collagen, most of the matcha collagen powder available is in the form of a protein-type supplement. These are special complexes of amino acids and collagen co-factors that may be metabolically active. It’s likely that your body will digest a collagen matcha additive as a potential fuel source, and may reduce total ketogenesis.
If you’re hopeful to optimize collagen synthesis, do it on your non-fasting days. Furthermore, it’s certainly worth noting that matcha has a robust complex of essential and helpful amino acids. As a result, it may naturally boost collagen synthesis, without the worry of impacting your fast.
Traditionally brewed matcha, with its minimal calories, can be enjoyed during intermittent fasting and might even support weight loss. However, matcha with artificial sweeteners may not be as effective for fasting, and collagen matcha supplements should be consumed on non-fasting days to avoid potential interference with ketogenesis.
Can I drink matcha when pregnant?
You've probably heard you should avoid raw fish, alcohol, cigarettes, and soft cheeses while pregnant, but what about matcha? Is drinking matcha during pregnancy safe? Can you drink matcha while pregnant?
The short answer is yes, you can drink matcha while pregnant. Studies show that matcha is very safe when consumed in moderation while pregnant.
1 gram of high-quality matcha contains between 35-50mg of caffeine. This means that you can have four servings of matcha per day and still be under the recommended limit of 200mg of caffeine for an expecting mother. To put that in perspective, that is equivalent to having two large matcha green teas a day using a teaspoon of matcha with each one.
During pregnancy, it's safe to consume matcha in moderation. Studies show it contains a manageable amount of caffeine, allowing for up to four servings a day without exceeding the recommended 200mg caffeine limit for expecting mothers, which is roughly equivalent to two large matcha green teas.
Can I drink matcha when breastfeeding?
Studies suggest that yes, you can drink matcha when breastfeeding as long as you stay below 200mg of caffeine daily.
Matcha is a wonderful source of relaxed yet focused energy and safe for young breastfeeding mothers. So whether you have a two-month-old or a toddler going through 'terrible twos,' you may want to consider switching from coffee to matcha.
Matcha tea is not only a safer and healthier alternative to coffee while pregnant, but it is also a cleaner energy source for breastfeeding mothers.
Studies indicate that it's safe to consume matcha while breastfeeding, provided you keep your daily caffeine intake below 200mg, making it a suitable choice for young mothers seeking a healthier and cleaner energy source than coffee.
Does matcha have side effects?
Despite its potential health benefits, it’s best to consume matcha in moderation.
Matcha contains more caffeine than green tea. While some caffeine may be beneficial, too much can have adverse effects, such as increasing heart rate.
Some scientists say that a high intake of catechins can cause liver problems, although they note that this is unlikely when people consume green tea as food or drink.
Research has suggested that 338 mg of catechin and EGCG per day is safe for adults to consume. This is the amount in around 4 g of matcha, or 2 level teaspoons. That's the equivalent of 2 - 4 servings of matcha per day.
However, the maximum tolerable intake of matcha powder may depend on the individual. To be safe, make sure to consume matcha in moderation.
Drinking a lot of matcha may not be beneficial for everyone. Opt for organic matcha and drink 1–3 cups per day for maximum benefit.
Final thoughts on matcha's health benefits.
Matcha comes from the same plant as green tea but contains more higher concentrations of antioxidants and other essential nutrients.
It may have a variety of health benefits, ranging from enhancing weight management to decreasing the risk of heart disease.
It is also simple to prepare as a tea and suitable for adding to shakes, desserts, lattes, and other foods and drinks.