Winners Drink Matcha Tea

Matcha powder and matcha drinks in containers

By: Erika Cardenas, CSUN Dietetic Intern Cohort 2021-2023

Tea has been around for centuries and, after water, is the most popular drink worldwide.1 Every day, two billion cups of tea are consumed.1 Surprisingly, the primary types of tea – white, green, oolong, and black- are all derived from the same plant. It’s true, these teas come from the camellia sinensis plant but differ in cultivation method, processing, and properties.2 While these teas are “true teas,” there are also herbal infusions such as chamomile and hibiscus blends. You may have tried various types of fruit-flavored iced teas and black teas, but none are quite like matcha. Although each tea has its qualities and health benefits, matcha has been trending more recently due to the increased availability and its popularity in drinks, such as matcha lattes. 

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a Japanese green tea that is ground into a bright green powder. Originating in Japan, it has unique growing conditions, processing, and preparation method. 3 It is generally more expensive than green tea because it is shaded with bamboo nets for most of its growth. While green tea is made from dried leaves steeped in hot water, matcha is traditionally ground by stone mills and consumed in its entirety. Since the entire leaf is consumed, it is a more concentrated form of green tea and offers more benefits than steeped leaves. The benefits of 10 cups of green tea can be seen in only one cup of matcha tea.3 Table 1 below summarizes the differences.

Does Matcha Have Health Benefits? 

Matcha has been reported to be anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, stress and anxiety reducing, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, and an antioxidant.3,4,5 The long list of health benefits can be attributed to its chemical components: caffeine, catechins (pronounced kat-eh-kins), vitamin C, flavonoids, and amino acids.5 Many of these components are antioxidants, which protect us against the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules that are a natural consequence of energy production.6 They cause damage to our cells and have been shown to increase risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis, various forms of cancer, renal disease, and other diseases.3,4 Free radicals exist in the environment, cigarette smoke, air pollution, and even sunlight. 

Luckily, free radicals can be combated with antioxidants from our diets. Antioxidants can be found in plant nutrients, or phytonutrients, from vegetables and fruits.6 This is one of many reasons why eating a diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits is good for our health. They can also be found in teas; a substantial 30% of matcha by dry weight is made up of polyphenolic compounds (another form of antioxidants).3,4 Of these polyphenols, (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG for short, has the highest concentration and is the most potent.3 For you to get an idea how powerful EGCG is, it has more antioxidant potential than Vitamin C alone!3 Are you wondering if you should add matcha to your daily routine yet? 

Another star player on the matcha team is l-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to reduce anxiety in mice when taken consistently.7,8 Matcha has a high concentration of l-theanine compared to other green teas.3 While there are limited studies on humans that observe the relationship between matcha and mood disorders, the implications are promising. One small randomized controlled trial (RCT) with 30 participants who took l-theanine tablets (200mg/day) for four weeks found that they had less stress-related symptoms, depression, anxiety, and better sleep.9 Their cognitive performance also increased. The researchers concluded that l-theanine has the potential to promote mental health in the general population. In another RCT, the participants experienced a slight improvement in attention speed and memory after consuming products containing 4 grams of matcha tea powder.10 Both studies show evidence that l-theanine can help with mental alertness and capabilities. 

Matcha tea has so many benefits, you might be wondering, is there any downside? Toxicity with matcha is rare but possible if consumed in extremely large amounts. Single doses of 1.6 grams to 9.9 grams per day of green tea extract have been shown to be well tolerated.11 Mild negative side effects include dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Symptoms of green tea extract toxicity include liver injury, elevated liver enzymes, jaundice, and hepatitis-like symptoms.11 Usually, cases of green tea induced toxicity are related to concentrated forms such as extracts in weight loss supplements. Ever heard of Hydroxycut? Unless you are consuming 24 cups of green tea per day, then no need to worry! 

Matcha vs. Coffee

If you’re not convinced to start drinking matcha immediately, here is the final point: matcha also contains caffeine. Apart from all the antioxidants and mood boosting l-theanine, matcha can also give you an energy boost. Coffee beans contain 10 – 12 mg of caffeine per gram, green tea contains about 11 – 24 mg/g, and matcha contains 19 – 44 mg/g.3 As you can see, matcha has the highest caffeine content of the three drinks. According to the FDA, negative effects from caffeine occur after consumption of 400 mg a day, which means that you can safely drink several cups of prepared matcha tea.12 Reader be warned, excessive caffeine intake can lead to insomnia, jitters, anxiousness, fast heart rate, upset stomach, nausea, and headache.11  

So, what makes matcha better than coffee? Although everyone has different tastes, matcha undoubtedly has more antioxidants, phytonutrients, amino acids, and caffeine. It provides energy while improving cognitive performance. Also, you can’t beat that amazing green color and earthy flavor. Next time you go out for a drink, swap that coffee out for something exciting and new. You might find yourself experiencing some of matcha’s many beneficial effects and before you know it, you’ll be a part of team matcha too. 

Bottom Line

Apart from making an alluring latte, matcha tea has many health benefits and possibly more yet to be discovered. Matcha tea powder is a concentrated form of green tea and has all the same benefits plus more: antioxidants to fight free radicals, calming l-theanine, and energy boosting caffeine, to name a few. Although there have been many studies on individual chemical components, there’s space for more research in humans to show its combined beneficial effect. Health benefits aside, matcha is a delicious tea that can be added to your current beverage routine either replacing coffee or in addition to your favorite teas. It only takes one cup of prepared matcha tea to experience its positive effects. Not sure how to prepare a matcha drink? We’ve got you covered, with a simple and quick Matcha Latte recipe.

Recipe: Matcha Latte


1 tsp matcha powder  

12 oz oat milk (or milk of choice) 

1 tbsp honey (or sweetener of choice) 

¼ tsp cinnamon (secret ingredient) 


For a hot matcha latte, warm the milk without boiling (careful not to burn the milk). Once the milk is very warm, add the rest of the ingredients and stir or whisk until combined. 

For an iced matcha latte, combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for at least 20 seconds. Pour over a cup of ice in a pint-sized glass or container. As you’re drinking it, the matcha will settle so give it a stir every time you take a sip. Enjoy!


  1. Pan SY, Nie Q, Tai HC, et al. Tea and tea drinking: China’s outstanding contributions to the mankind. Chin Med. 2022;17(1):27. Published 2022 Feb 22. doi:10.1186/s13020-022-00571-1 
  1. Kochman J, Jakubczyk K, Antoniewicz J, Mruk H, Janda K. Health benefits and chemical composition of Matcha Green Tea: A Review. Molecules. 2020;26(1):85. doi:10.3390/molecules26010085 
  1. Sivanesan I, Gopal J, Muthu M, Chun S, Oh J-W. Retrospecting the antioxidant activity of Japanese matcha green tea–lack of enthusiasm? Applied Sciences. 2021;11(11):5087. doi:10.3390/app11115087 
  1. Devkota HP, Gaire BP, Hori K, et al. The science of matcha: Bioactive compounds, analytical techniques and biological properties. Trends in Food Science & Technology. 2021;118:735-743. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2021.10.021 
  1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Antioxidants: In Depth. National Institutes of Health. 2013. Accessed September 12, 2022. 
  1. Sivanesan I, Gopal J, Muthu M, Chun S, Oh J-W. Retrospecting the antioxidant activity of Japanese matcha green tea–lack of enthusiasm? Applied Sciences. 2021;11(11):5087. doi:10.3390/app11115087 
  1. Ogawa S, Ota M, Ogura J, Kato K, Kunugi H. Effects of l-theanine on anxiety-like behavior, cerebrospinal fluid amino acid profile, and hippocampal activity in Wistar Kyoto rats. Psychopharmacology. 2018;235(1):37-45. doi:10.1007/s00213-017-4743-1 
  1. Unno K, Furushima D, Hamamoto S, et al. Stress-reducing function of matcha green tea in animal experiments and clinical trials. Nutrients. 2018;10(10):1468. doi:10.3390/nu10101468  
  1. Hidese, Ogawa, Ota, et al. Effects of L-theanine administration on stress-related symptoms and cognitive functions in healthy adults: A randomized controlled trial. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2362. doi:10.3390/nu11102362  
  1. Dietz C, Dekker M, Piqueras-Fiszman B. An intervention study on the effect of matcha tea, in drink and snack bar formats, on mood and cognitive performance. Food Research International. 2017;99:72-83. doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2017.05.002  
  1. Bethesda. Green tea. LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug Induced Liver Injury. 2012. Accessed October 3, 2022 
  1. Food and Drug Administration. Spilling the beans: How much caffeine is too much? 2018. -caffeine-too-much Accessed October 3, 2022. 

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