What is Matcha? Is it better than coffee? Are there any health benefits? How many Matcha’s can I have? Should I drink Matcha with caution? These are questions I get asked a lot, so today on the blog, I’ve decided to explain.
WHAT IS MATCHA?
If you’ve scrolled through Instagram, you’ll be aware that Matcha Green Tea isn’t like any other form of green tea. Matcha Green tea is made using a green powder; this powder is made using specially grown green tea leaves which are then steamed, dried and aged in cold storage. After a period of time, they are ground into what we know as matcha powder, to ensure they are water soluble1.
DOES MATCHA CONTAIN CAFFEINE?
A cup of matcha is believed to provide 34mg of caffeine, where as an espresso coffee provides 60mg.
WHY IS MATCHA SO POPULAR?
Aside from clever marketing, Matcha powder tea leaves are grown in the shade for 3 weeks before harvest. This process helps boost their natural dose of L-theanine.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that is studied for it’s anti-stress effects1 . The L-Theanine is believed to modulate the effects of caffeine, providing a kick, without the anxiety or the ‘edginess’ often experienced with a strong cup of coffee2.
DOES MATCHA CONTAIN ANTIOXIDANTS?
Because matcha is made from whole leaves, it is believed to be a more potent source of antioxidants than traditional green tea. One study found that Matcha has 137 times the polyphenols (notably, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)) than regular green tea 4.
SHOULD I BE WORRIED ABOUT LEAD?
A study in 2006 measured lead levels in Chinese green teas and found that some of them were 50 times the maximum permitted level5. This contamination is believed to be due to China’s massive industrialisation, allowing the lead to be absorbed from the soil and/or or leaves.
Given Matcha leaves are consumed as a whole, some argue that the lead content in Matcha may be higher than traditional green teas – even with organic varieties. I guess you could argue that this is another reason not to guzzle Matcha, but sip it mindfully 🙂
NOTE: A quick google lead me to find brands like Zen Green Tea who’s Matcha is produced in Japan, rather than China which may help modulate the risks mentioned above.
IS IT BETTER THAN COFFEE?
In terms of antioxidant value, yes. However overall, it’s hard to say given they are two different drinks. If you’re suffering from anxiety or feelings of “being on edge” after a cup of coffee, you might like to substitute an organic form of matcha tea instead and see how you feel? Given Matcha is still a stimulant, I recommend limiting your intake to help promote a restful nights sleep.
Do you drink Matcha? Does it help you feel more relaxed? I’d love to hear all about your experiences below.