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Matcha & Caffeine

Matcha is a Japanese green tea made from powdered green tea leaves of the plant known as Camellia Sinensis. It is most commonly cultivated and produced in Japan although it is rapidly gaining popularity all over the world due to its diverse health properties.

When drinking matcha tea, the entire leaves are dissolved and consumed with hot water rather than steeped and then removed like regular teas. Thus, Matcha drinkers receive the full nutritional benefits of the whole leaf which encompasses phytonutrients such as antioxidants (EGCG), amino acids (L-theanine) and caffeine (referred as theine when talking about tea). Moreover, vitamins, minerals and fibre are also found in this tea’s composition.

A scientific study about Matcha’s composition notes that: “Matcha, the Japanese powdered green tea, is a valuable resource with rich content of biologically active substances with antioxidant properties. It is characterized by particularly high content of polyphenols and vitamin C. Additionally, its infusions have a high antioxidant potential, the highest out of all tea types.” (1)

 

 

Owing to Matcha’s combination of phyto-nutrients, the caffeine in Matcha is assimilated in a  much healthier way than coffee or black tea.

As Matcha contains high levels of L-theanine (an amino acid responsible for energy), it slows down the absorption of caffeine, resulting in a smooth longer-lasting energy boost than what is normally get from a traditional cup of coffee. It takes around 6 to 8 hours (with no sugar increasing levels in blood) to be assimilated and absorbed by our organism. This means that Matcha can increase alertness and energy without peaks, falls and jittery side effects.

“Matcha is rich in L-Theanine, a rare amino acid that effects the brain's functioning to promote a state of well-being, alertness, and relaxation. L-Theanine is common in all tea, but matcha has 5 times more than any other black or green tea. Known to extend the energy brought on by small amounts of caffeine, L-Theanine promotes concentration and focus without the nervous energy found in coffee or other energy drinks”. (2)

According to different medical researches, the average caffeine consumption in adults shouldn’t exceed 400mg per day. The caffeine content of 1 gram of Matcha is about 60 milligrams in ceremonial grade varieties, which is more than the double regarding regular green teas, where caffeine content is only 30 milligrams. Therefore, it is not recommended to drink more than 5 cups a day.

 

Caffeine content estimation quantity per cup analysis.

  • Matcha tea 50 - 75 mg
  • Green tea 25 - 35 mg
  • Coffee 120 – 150 mg
  • Energy drink (can) 75 - 85 mg

Caffeine content in tea varies depending on how and when the plant was grown and harvested, climate, soil, among other factors. The process after harvesting does not influence the quantity of caffeine (unless it is decaffeinated). 

Also, it is crucial to note that time and temperature when brewing tea impacts the quantity of caffeine released in the cup. The more time infused at higher temperatures increases the amount of caffeine, and simultaneously, bitterness.

Side effects of Matcha.

Although drinking Matcha is healthy and safe when consumed in moderate quantities, it is significant to highlight that people who are sensitive to caffeine should be aware about the amount of stimulant of this type of tea. It may cause unpleasant side effects such as nauseous, headache, insomnia and heartburn when drinking it in excess. So, it is recommended to avoid this beverage if anybody has a strong sensitivity to caffeine or limit the intake to one cup a day.

“Caffeine is the world’s most popular drug and is found in many beverages including tea. Although caffeine is commonly ingested to enhance alertness and improve performance, its use should be avoided by pregnant women, children, and individuals with cardiovascular disease and anxiety disorders” (3).

Thus, even if Matcha properties and effects are still being studied by a lot of scientific organizations, it seems that there is much more to explore regarding this tea.  

Acknowledge that its consumption goes beyond any social trend in addition to the fact that it will make a different reaction to anyone in particular, is a significant step for those who are choosing consciously.  

 

References:

  1. K, Jakubczyk , J, Kochman , A,Kwiatkowska,J, Kałdunska, K, Dec, D, Kawczuga and K, Janda. (12 April 2020).“Antioxidant Properties and Nutritional Composition of Matcha Green Tea”. Foods.
  2. Wu X, Beecher GR, Holden JM, Haytowitz DB, Gebhardt SE, Prior RL. (Jun 2004). “Lipophillic and Hydrophillic Antioxidant Capacities of Common Foods in the US”. Journalof Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 10.1021/jf049696w
  3. Chin, J. (October 2008), “Caffeine content of brewed teas”.Journal of Analytical Toxicology.