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Matcha being whisked with a bambo whisk

Understanding Matcha Tea Caffeine - Why It's The Strongest Green Tea

August 02, 2021

Understanding Matcha Tea Caffeine - Why It's The Strongest Green Tea

Matcha tea on a wooden table with a spoon and bamboo whisk

 

How matcha do you know about matcha?

Puns aside, matcha is a really interesting and flavorful tea type. It can also be a great source of caffeine energy, which is why we enjoy matcha so much at Zest Tea! In this guide, we're outlining what matcha tea is, how to make it, what to expect from the flavor, and most importantly, how much caffeine it contains.

What is Matcha Green Tea?

Matcha is a Japanese green tea type made from the Camellia sinensis plant. This plant produces numerous varieties - some are great for black tea, others for green tea, and some that are grown in Japan are best for matcha.

There are two key things that separate matcha tea from a regular green tea:

  • The green tea plants are shade-grown, which changes the flavor, L-Theanine and caffeine levels,
  • Once harvested and dried, the veins and stalks are removed, then the tea leaf is ground into a fine powder.

So instead of soaking tea leaves in water to produce a green tea, with matcha you need to whisk the powdered tea directly into water. You can think of it almost like making an instant coffee.

Traditionally, only the highest grade of matcha is consumed as tea, during a Japanese tea ceremony. This grade of matcha is known as ceremonial grade, while lower grades are used for culinary purposes, e.g. baking recipes, or flavoring and coloring foods.

One interesting fact is that although matcha is most well-known as a Japanese tea type, it's origins are actually in China!1

Bowl with matcha, a bamboo whisk, and a cup of matcha powder on a table

Matcha Flavor

Matcha has a rich, green and grassy taste. Compared to regular green tea, the flavor is more vibrant. This tea type can also have an astringent quality and slight bitterness, although the texture is usually silky smooth with micro-foam on top (when whisked well).

Different brands will sometimes flavor their matcha to create a new taste. Vanilla, blueberry, lemon... there are endless flavor combinations that can be added to matcha to give it a tasty flavor. And there's also the matcha latte, which involves using a strong shot of matcha instead of espresso with hot foamy milk.

Ingredients and Nutrition

Matcha is a low calorie drink, just like other tea types. An average matcha green tea contains just 3 calories, 0 carbs, and 1 gram of fiber. Matcha powder is also a source of iron, vitamin C and vitamin A, although in very small quantities per serving.2

When you are drinking matcha, you also consume water to rehydrate your body and numerous other nutritional components, including polyphenols and the antioxidant amino acid L-Theanine. Matcha is higher in both caffeine and this important amino acid than standard green tea leaves. Together, they have a synergistic effect, meaning that they work together.

The caffeine content in matcha provides energy, while the L-Theanine provides calm, focus and productivity. This amino acid found naturally in the tea plant can also slow down the energy boost, for smoother and prolonged productivity. If you're interested in the science, read 'High Caffeine Tea - Everything You Need to Know'.

Matcha being whisked with a bambo whisk

Health Benefits

Matcha is rich in antioxidants which have numerous benefits for your body.

  • A study into the stress-reducing effects of matcha found that it significantly lowered anxiety levels too.3
  • Drinking matcha enhanced fat oxidation in females when it was consumed before a brisk 30-minute walk.4
  • There's evidence that matcha protects against cognitive decline in the elderly.5

The health benefits of matcha are closely linked to the health benefits of all green teas, so if you want to learn more about health benefits, side effects, EGCG and antioxidants, read our article 'Green Tea: What's In It and Why It Matters'.

Glass mug with iced matcha tea

Matcha Green Tea Caffeine Content

Drinking an 8-ounce serving of matcha made with 1 scoop (2 grams/half a teaspoon) of matcha powder will provide roughly 70mg of caffeine.6

Matcha vs Regular Green Tea

Regular green teas contain 25mg per brewed cup (8oz) on average. This is less than matcha as the tea leaves are removed, rather than ground into the drink, and they aren't typically shade grown.

Matcha vs Coffee and Energy Drinks

A standard cup of coffee contains 96mg of caffeine and a shot of espresso (1oz) contains 64mg.7 Energy drinks vary, but they're usually more than coffee or around the same.

The biggest difference is the nutrients - coffee and energy drinks lack L-Theanine for a smooth, prepared energy boost. Energy drinks often contain a lot of sugar too. This leads to a bigger energy crash than you'd get with matcha.

For wellness, matcha wins hands-down even if the caffeine boost is slightly lower.

Zest High Caffeine Green Tea

Zest Teas are higher than matcha and coffee when it comes to caffeine. Although we don't currently have a matcha green tea to offer, drinking our high caffeine green teas provides up to 135mg of caffeine per beverage.

For smooth grassy green tea notes with tropical hints (and a great plant-powered energy boost), check out our Pomegranate Mojito.

Water being poured into a bowl of matcha tea that's being mixed by a bambo whisk.

How to Make Matcha Tea

It's a simple process, albeit not as simple as a standard green tea.

  1. Add half a teaspoon or 1 scoop of matcha powder to your cup,
  2. Start with a small splash of water and use your whisk to combine the powder with it, until there are no lumps,
  3. Pour in your hot water and whisk vigorously to incorporate the water and powder with air until a good foam forms.

Glass mug with matcha tea, placed next to the sieve that was used to make it

3 Tips to Make The Best Cup of Matcha

If you want to take your cup of matcha to the next level, these three tips will help you get there.

Water Temperature

Use hot water to whisk your matcha, but not boiling water! The key is to use water that's roughly 80°C/176°C. This prevents you scalding the matcha and enhancing the bitter flavors.

Use a thermometer if you want to be precise, or just wait a few minutes for your water to cool after it reaches boiling point.

Sieving

Sieving the powder gets rid of the clumps that can form even in high quality matcha. You might see more clumps forming over time, where the matcha's exposed to moisture. So, sieve your matcha into your cup so it's smoother and easier to whisk.

Whisking

We recommend using a bamboo whisk instead of an electric metal whisk for your matcha. Bamboo won't impart any flavor in your cup of matcha, it won't damage your matcha bowl, and it gives you more control over the foam you create. The key is to use a zigzag motion instead of a circular motion. And yes, your arm will ache afterwards... but it's worth it!

Bowl of matcha tea powder viewed from the top on a light pink background

FAQs

Is matcha stronger than coffee?

In terms of flavor, both matcha and coffee have a strong taste and bitterness, but they're very different. In terms of caffeine, matcha green tea has less than a standard cup of coffee but more than a single shot of espresso.

Is there caffeine in matcha tea?

Yes! Matcha contains more caffeine than most green teas. It has roughly 70mg of caffeine per serving.

Is matcha caffeine bad?

No, the caffeine levels in a cup of matcha are way less than the FDA daily recommended limit of 400mg.8 Furthermore, matcha contains L-Theanine which is a natural amino acid that smooths and prolongs the effects of caffeine. So, you won't get the jitters and crash you'd normally expect with a high caffeine energy drink or coffee.

Is matcha powder high in caffeine?

Yes, matcha powder is high in caffeine. There's roughly 70mg of caffeine in one serving of matcha green tea, compared to a standard green tea which contains 28mg and black tea which contains 47mg. Compared to a cup of coffee or Zest High Caffeine Tea, however, matcha has fewer caffeine mg per serving.

 

SOURCES 

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matcha

2 https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1714783/nutrients

3 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30308973/

4 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29345213/

5 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33256220/

6 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-in-tea-vs-coffee#caffeine-concerns

7 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372

8 https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much