The Matcha Movement: A Healthier Way to Caffeinate
From traditional tea ceremonies in Japan to trendy cafes around the world, matcha is a beverage that's become increasingly popular.
In this guide, we'll take a deep dive into the origins and benefits of matcha, as well as some ways to enjoy this amazing beverage.
What Is Matcha?
Matcha is a powder form of green tea, also known as jade leaf tea. It has a vibrant green color and a mellow, grassy flavor. The powder is consumed by whisking it into hot water to form a frothy drink.
A Short History of Matcha
Matcha can be traced back to the Tang dynasty, which ruled China from the 7th to the 10th century.
The Tang dynasty formed bricks out of steamed green tea leaves to make it easier to transport and trade. These green tea bricks were made by pulverizing the leaves into a fine powder called matcha powder.
The Song dynasty, which ruled from the 10th to the 13th century, popularized this form of tea preparation, and matcha has been a traditional Chinese staple ever since.
Nowadays, matcha is known worldwide for its delicious taste and the many benefits it offers. In modern times, matcha is graded based on quality. The three grades of matcha are ceremonial matcha, culinary matcha, and ingredient matcha. We use ceremonial matcha, which is the highest quality option, in our matcha tea with cordyceps.
How Is Matcha Different from Green Tea?
Matcha and green tea come from the Camellia sinensis plant, but are processed differently. Unlike green tea leaves, which are steeped in hot water, matcha is the whole tea leaf ground into a fine powder.
This means that you are receiving whole plant matter, including the stems and veins of the plant, translating to much higher amounts of chlorophyll, antioxidants, and L-theanine.
Why Is Matcha So Beneficial?
Matcha is an adaptogen that contains all the beneficial compounds found in regular green tea, but in higher doses. Two particularly incredible compounds found in green tea and matcha are L-theanine, which acts as a stress-reliever, and an antioxidant known as EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate)
Matcha and L-theanine
Matcha contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is used in western medicine to reduce anxiety and treat depression. It also stimulates alpha waves in your brain, promoting an attentive and alert disposition while calming your nerves.
L- theanine occurs naturally almost exclusively in tea leaves, and in small amounts in bay bolete mushrooms (Xerocomus badius). It is synthesized in the roots ofCamellia (green tea) species and concentrated in the leaves where sunlight converts it to polyphenols.
Polyphenols are compounds made by plants and are generally involved in defense against radiation from sunlight and aggression from microorganisms that cause disease. Because of the conversion to polyphenols, some tea cultivators (our grower included) grow their plants out of direct sunlight to preserve theanine content. This also results in a superior flavor profile.
When combined with caffeine, L-theanine acts as a stabilizer to release the caffeine into your system more slowly. Compare this to coffee or an energy drink, which blasts your nervous system all at once. The state of focus and attention engendered by the combination of L-theanine and caffeine has been called “mindful alertness.” This is why matcha’s energy doesn’t come to a sharp end with a crash; instead, it keeps you present with long-lasting calm energy.
Matcha and EGCG Antioxidants
Green tea, including matcha, is richer in antioxidants than any other form of tea. The chemical compound found in matcha responsible for much of its antioxidant activity is known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG.
EGCG has been a focus of many studies exploring its radical scavenging ability due to its high concentration in green tea and specific structural aspects that make it a strong antioxidant. Antioxidants fight free radicals that break down cells over time. If our body can't fight off these molecular assaults, internal degenerative processes occur, and aging becomes more rapid.
Health Benefits of Matcha
When drinking matcha, you get all the benefits of green tea and more. That’s because beneficial compounds are harder to extract from whole leaves. Once ground, tea leaves will release more antioxidants, L-theanine, and other bioactive compounds, leading to more benefits. Some of the health benefits of matcha you can expect are:
- Energy without the crash or jitters (L-theanine + caffeine)
- Reduced anxiety (L-theanine)
- Improved dental health (EGCG)
- Enhanced focus (L-theanine + caffeine)
- Healthy weight loss (catechins)
- Antioxidants (13x that of pomegranates, 125x that of spinach)
- Brain and heart health benefits (EGCG)
- Youthful, healthy skin (EGCG)
Anti-Aging Properties of Matcha
Matcha and green tea appear to have anti-aging effects. They were shown to reduce the effects of photoaging (damage to the skin from UV light), increase collagen and elastin fiber content, and suppress the production of a collagen-degrading enzyme in the skin.
A 2019 study examined green tea polyphenols in relation to a process called autophagy, which is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells.
Polyphenols are compounds made by plants and are generally involved in defense against radiation from sunlight and aggression from microorganisms that cause disease. These compounds were found to induce autophagy, increase stress resistance, and revitalize overall health.
Matcha for Cancer Prevention and Treatment
The anti-cancer effect of matcha and green tea comes as a result of their direct inhibition of carcinogenic (cancer-promoting) activity. A 2009 study looked at the anti-cancer properties of green tea.
This study found that green tea hinders cancer progression by restricting tumor proliferation and decreasing angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels that feed tumors).
Green tea also aided in the inhibition of tumor migration and proliferation. Inhibition of tumor migration and proliferation is important because this equates to reduced tumor cell movement to other parts of the body as well as reduced tumor cell multiplication.
Matcha Improves Focus and Energy
Matcha contains more caffeine per gram than coffee beans, so it’s bound to give you more energy and help you focus. But, did you know that daily matcha use can also improve brain function?
A 2020 double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the effects of matcha green tea powder on the cognitive functions of the elderly. Results show that matcha consumption led to a significant cognitive enhancement after 12 weeks of use.
Mental Health Benefits of Matcha
Matcha can be incredibly beneficial for mental health. Thanks to high levels of L-theanine, matcha acts as a natural stress reliever, and its benefits for anxiety and depression are particularly impressive.
Does Matcha Help with Anxiety?
L-theanine, an amino acid found in matcha, was shown to alleviate stress and anxiety in a 2019 study review. This review examined 9 peer-reviewed journal articles on the effects of L-theanine on anxiety and concluded that 200-400 mg of L-theanine per day may assist in anxiety-reduction in people exposed to stressful conditions.
Can Matcha Reduce Depression?
A 2016 study looked at the potential beneficial properties of L-theanine in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).
The researchers used the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-21), which was given to participants at baseline, as well as after 4 and 8 weeks of L-theanine use. The results of HAMD-21 significantly improved, which suggests that chronic L-theanine administration has multiple beneficial effects on symptoms of depression.
Matcha Benefits for Heart Health
Matcha can be incredibly beneficial for heart health and may reduce the risk of heart disease due to its beneficial effects on cholesterol levels.
A 2015 animal study on the effects of matcha on mice fed a high-fat diet concluded that matcha extract can reduce LDL cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol, often called "bad cholesterol," significantly raises the risk of heart disease and stroke. Matcha also increases levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, which protects against stroke and heart disease.
Matcha for Dental Health
Matcha powder appears to benefit dental health, at least in animals. A 2016 animal study looked at the changes in dental plaque formation in dogs after supplementing with a drinking solution containing matcha extract.
The results showed that the dogs fed the matcha extract diet had significantly less dental plaque formation compared to the control group, indicating that the extract may have a beneficial effect on dental health in dogs.
Matcha for Weight Loss
Caffeine found in matcha was shown to enhance exercise-induced fat oxidation and weight loss. A 2018 study investigated the effects of matcha consumption on fat oxidation during brisk walking exercises in women.
Results show that consuming matcha tea before exercise increased the rate of fat oxidation compared to consuming a placebo beverage. The researchers concluded that matcha may have potential as a dietary supplement to enhance fat metabolism during physical activity.
Are There Any Negative Effects of Matcha?
There are no long-term negative effects of matcha. Drinking too much matcha can cause a headache or insomnia due to the high caffeine content, but these side effects will subside once the caffeine wears off.
Since it’s a stimulant, matcha may also cause diarrhea or an upset stomach when taken in high doses, but these side effects are also temporary. To prevent these side effects, start with low doses and work your way up if you’re new to matcha, and don’t exceed the daily dosage of 2 grams.
Is it Okay to Drink Matcha Everyday?
Yes, it’s okay to drink matcha every day. Of course, you shouldn’t take more than 2 grams of matcha per day, as taking too much can cause temporary side effects. However, if you stick with the recommended dosage, taking matcha every day is completely safe.
Who Should Not Drink Matcha?
Though matcha is healthy for most people, pregnant and breastfeeding women should refrain from taking it. Matcha is full of caffeine, and, though some women choose to have low amounts of caffeine during pregnancy, many cut it out altogether while pregnant and breastfeeding.
When Should You Not Drink Matcha?
You should not drink matcha late in the day. The caffeine in matcha can make you feel restless and unable to fall asleep, especially if you’re sensitive to the effects of caffeine. Thus, it’s best to consume matcha in the morning or late afternoon and reap its energizing benefits throughout the day.
How to Get Matcha Benefits
Matcha tea, lattes, and similar drinks are the most common ways to consume matcha. However, food with matcha is becoming quite popular lately. Here’s how you can consume matcha, whether you prefer to drink it or eat it.
Drinking matcha can take many forms, from traditional matcha tea to more modern creations like iced matcha lattes. These lattes can be made with milk or a variety of different milk alternatives, such as almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk.
For those looking to enjoy matcha as a hot beverage, there are plenty of delicious hot tea recipes to choose from. Whether enjoyed for its unique flavor or its potential health benefits, matcha is a versatile and tasty addition to any beverage lineup.
If you want to experiment with recipes that use matcha, there are plenty of mouth-watering options to choose from. Matcha cupcakes, ice cream, and pancakes are among the popular sweet recipes that incorporate matcha powder. And, if you prefer savory foods, adding matcha to your avocado toast is a must-try.
What Does Matcha Taste Like?
Matcha tastes mild and earthy. Some people describe its flavor as slightly sweet, while others taste mild bitterness. The flavor depends on the quality of the matcha and how it’s prepared, so choosing the premium powders (such as the Hone matcha powder) is a must.
Do You Want to Buy Matcha Powder?
In ancient Japan, samurais and monks used matcha to help induce a cognitive flow-state before going to battle or engaging in deep meditation. Ultimately seeking the same effect, matcha stimulated full engagement in the task at hand.
Whether for enhanced agility with a blade or to focus a sharpened mind, matcha has long granted unrivaled concentration and health benefits. This is why matcha is a foundational element of our flagship product.
Our matcha powder comes in two sizes—a 10-serving mushroom matcha box, and a 30-serving mushroom matcha jar. If you’re new to matcha, the smaller size is a great place to start. However, once you fall in love with our product, the full-sized jar will become a staple in your home.
Here’s why you should choose Hone matcha powders to get the benefits of this amazing supplement.
Family-Sourced, Ceremonial Grade Matcha Powder
Our matcha is sourced from an eco-heritage, carbon-neutral family-owned farm in the Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan, where matcha has been grown for generations. In the shadow of Mt. Fuji, our matcha leaves are grown with care, handpicked, and meticulously processed. This proud farm has some of the highest quality matcha in the industry and has a culture of craftsmanship.
We use the highest quality grade available, “ceremonial matcha.” This means the leaves are grown in shade and harvested at the peak of their nutritional value. The process gives you the best nature has to offer.
Each serving boasts over 20 mg of L-theanine and 60 mg of EGCG antioxidants. This is equivalent to over 137 times the amount found in infused green teas and 116 times the amount found in a serving of acai berries. The silky, refreshing natural taste reflects careful attention to detail, passion, and high-quality standards. It’s no mystery why we are so proud of this matcha.
Premium Cordyceps for More Health Benefits
In addition to organic matcha tea powder, our blend also contains Cordyceps militaris, an adaptogenic mushroom known for its many benefits. Thecordyceps mushroom has natural energy-boosting properties, acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, and promotes overall physical and mental well being.
FAQ on Matcha
Does matcha give you energy?
Yes, matcha tea powders give you energy. Matcha contains caffeine, which is a stimulant that will give you an energy boost. Other beneficial compounds found in matcha, such as L-theanine and EGCG antioxidants, will help you stay alert and focused throughout the day as well.
Does matcha tea stain teeth?
No, unlike coffee, matcha powder tea won’t stain your teeth. On the contrary, matcha was found to aid in dental health, as it may reduce dental plaque with regular use.
Why do people drink matcha instead of coffee?
There are many reasons people choose to get their caffeine from matcha instead of coffee. For one, unlike coffee, matcha won’t cause jitters or a midday energy crash.
Many people get anxious when drinking caffeine, and the mental health benefits of matcha can ease the anxiety associated with caffeine consumption. Plus, people often prefer the flavor of matcha over that of coffee and love the additional health benefits they get from drinking matcha.
Is matcha powder high in caffeine?
Yes, the caffeine content in matcha is quite high. Matcha contains between 18 and 45 milligrams of caffeine per gram of powder. For comparison, coffee beans contain 10–12 milligrams of caffeine per gram.
Will matcha keep me awake?
Yes, matcha will keep you awake, alert, and focused throughout the day. Matcha has a higher caffeine content than coffee, so it’s safe to assume it will do a better job at keeping you awake than coffee does.
Do they use matcha in Japanese tea ceremonies?
Yes, matcha is a cherished part of Japanese tea culture and is commonly used in Japanese tea ceremonies. Japanese tea ceremonies, also known as chanoyu or sado, are highly ritualized events that center around the preparation and presentation of traditional green tea. Matcha, which is a finely ground powdered green tea, is a key component of a Japanese tea ceremony.
While other types of teas, such as black tea, oolong tea, white tea, and herbal teas, are popular in Japan, they are generally not used in tea ceremonies. Chai tea, which is a type of spiced tea, and earl grey tea are also not usually used.
In terms of preparation, loose leaf teas are often used to make a powder, and the tea is typically whisked together with hot water using a bamboo whisk. Tea bags are not typically used in tea ceremonies, as the focus is on the ritual and presentation of the tea.
Do I need matcha teaware when preparing matcha?
While matcha tea accessories, such as a milk frother, a bamboo matcha whisk, and a matcha bowl, are not integral for preparing matcha, they are certainly useful and can make the preparation process easier.
However, that doesn’t mean you need expensive matcha accessories to be a matcha drinker—we offer a high-quality electric matcha whisk that’s only $15. And, if you’re looking for adorable custom ceramic matcha bowls and cups, we offer those as well.
Can you make matcha from Yerba mate?
No, you can’t make matcha from a yerba mate tea blend. Matcha is made from Camellia sinensis ground tea leaves, while yerba mate is made out of leaves and sticks from the yerba mate plant.
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- Xu, P. (2016). The effects of the aqueous extract and residue of Matcha on the antioxidant status and lipid and glucose levels in mice fed a high-fat diet. Food & Function, 7(1), 294–300. https://doi.org/10.1039/c5fo00828j
- Lindinger, M. I. (2016). Reduced Dental Plaque Formation in Dogs Drinking a Solution Containing Natural Antimicrobial Herbal Enzymes and Organic Matcha Green Tea. Scientifica, 2016, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/2183623
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The information given in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).