Caffeine in Matcha Green Tea
Matcha has been used for centuries as a source of energy. It was the drink of choice for monks who needed increased energy during long meditation periods. As more benefits of matcha were recognised, more groups of people started using it. In the 13th century, even Samurai warriors utilised matcha to sharpen their focus in battle. Today more and people are turning to matcha for its health benefits
Does matcha have caffeine?
Yes, Matcha has caffeine. A cup of matcha has moderate amounts of caffeine with 30mg per gram or half teaspoon serve. Compared to most Japanese teas, matcha tea is considered a high caffeine tea. Matcha is a relatively high caffeine green tea. Compared to a lower caffeine tea like genmaicha, which has only 15mg per serve. A glass of matcha or matcha latte made with 2g of matcha will contain 60mg caffeine. Compare that to other typical caffeine sources such as an espresso, which has 150 mg caffeine or can of monster energy drink, which has 180 mg caffeine. Even a cup of brewed coffee has a hefty 90 mg of caffeine in it.2
Compared to an espresso or energy drink, matcha has much less caffeine in it. But that doesn’t mean it has less of an uplift. In fact, matcha powder contains other amino acids, like L-theanine, which work with caffeine to elicit a more gradual release of caffeine, providing a calm alertness. We’ll discuss this super nutrient more in depth later on.
How Much Caffeine is in Matcha?
One teaspoon, or two servings of Kenko Matcha Tea will yield about 68 milligrams of caffeine. In comparison, a cup of coffee can have up to 100 mg of caffeine in it. However, in the case of matcha, more doesn’t mean better. It can actually mean the difference between a mood crash and a gentle tapering off a caffeine boost. Therefore, the main benefit of matcha caffeine lies in quality, not quantity.
The daily recommended intake of caffeine is between 300 and 400 mg per day. For healthy adults, this is the appropriate amount deemed to be safe. If you calculate it out, that’s about 8 cups of ceremonial grade Kenko matcha, two 5 hour energy shots, or one Starbucks venti coffee. Of course, everyone may have different reactions to caffeine. Some people may be more sensitive to caffeine while others may be more tolerant, especially if they consume caffeinated drinks more often.
Is There Less Caffeine in Different Types of Matcha?
Yes, different brands and grades will have differing amounts of caffeine. Our Culinary matcha contains less caffeine (28 milligrams/gram) than ceremonial matcha.
Ceremonial grade matcha can contain around 34 milligrams of caffeine per gram.
Caffeine in Matcha vs Coffee
Both Matcha and coffee contain caffeine, but coffee beverages often produce a quick caffeine spike followed by a harsh coffee crash. Caffeine from coffee will often make you feel jittery and anxious due with side effects like spikes in cortisol, insulin, and glucose. In contrast, a caffeine boost from a cup of matcha is often much smoother and gentler. This is due l theanine, an amino acid found in green tea. Which combined with caffeine causes a gentler absorption into the blood.
Preparation Makes a Difference
As we mentioned, the true amount of caffeine in matcha ultimately depends on its preparation. After all, Japanese matcha comes in a powder form. This being the case, you can potentially have as much caffeine as your heart desires. It’s partly in how you blend it that can make the difference.
Catechins and the Antioxidant Advantage
Matcha green tea powder is composed of catechins, caffeine, and amino acids. Catechins are potent antioxidants that can help prevent chronic conditions and promote a healthy lifestyle. EGCG is the most abundant catechin followed by epicatechin (ECG). Since matcha tea is formed from the whole tea leaf, it has many times more antioxidants than regular green tea. The caffeine molecules found in matcha bind to matcha’s phytonutrients such as L theanine. This causes the caffeine in matcha to be released into the bloodstream over time, producing a much gentler increase in energy levels than what coffee drinkers experience.
As one of the main beneficial ingredients of matcha, EGCG makes up about 80% of total catechins. One study shows that habitual intake of EGCG can help enhance fat oxidation for weight loss and protect against chronic inflammation.6 It also plays a major role in balancing out the anxiety causing effects of caffeine. Instead of feeling skittish after a cup of coffee, matcha can promote a feeling of calm focus.
Caffeine in Matcha vs Green Tea
Compared to matcha, drinking regular green tea contains about 30-35 mg of caffeine. Houjicha, a low caffeine tea contains 10-20mg of Caffeine per serve. Gyokuro and Sencha can contain 35mg.
Unlike matcha tea where the entire tea lea is consumed, regular green tea is made by steeping tea leaves in hot water. Steeping green tea leaves in hot water draws out the nutrients for consumption. Unfortunately, though, you’re just not getting all the nutrients that green tea has to offer. You’re actually only getting a tiny fraction of the potential plant nutrients compared to matcha drinkers.
What is L-theanine?
Matcha contains potent amounts of L-theanine due to the shading preparation used to create matcha powder. L-theanine, also known as theanine, is a naturally produced amino acid that is found almost exclusively in tea. Its chemical structure is similar to that of glutamic acid, an important neurotransmitter in the brain. This amino acid has been found to have several beneficial functions, such as improving dopamine release and even protecting nerve cells in the brain.7
Kenko Tea ceremonial grade matcha contains an ample 16.84 milligrams of L-theanine per gram.
L-theanine And Caffeine Work Together
In combination with arginine, caffeine, and other catechins such as EGCG, L-theanine has an even greater effect on stress levels. Balanced ratios between L-theanine and EGCG has been associated with lower feelings of anxiousness after drinking matcha. Compared to the placebo group in one study, L-theanine combined with caffeine and EGCG was the major key in producing a stable caffeine boost.10
With subtle improvements in focus, caffeine plus L-theanine in matcha produces feelings of alertness without sudden drops in mood. If you look more closely, the ratio of theanine to caffeine can play a vital role in influencing the stimulant effects of matcha. On its own, L-theanine is a powerful amino acid. But combined with caffeine, L-theanine can have an even greater effect on attention and mood.
Matcha Tea For All Lifestyles
Matcha provides just the right amount of caffeine to promote alertness and energy without overdoing it. Whether you are a busy professional, active athlete, or an all-around caffeine connoisseur, matcha can support all energy requirements without delayed grogginess. Plus, it has near zero calories. With added antioxidants and L-theanine for a smooth energy boost, it is not that difficult to realize how matcha outcompetes coffee and other energy drinks.
- Babu PV, Liu D. Green tea catechins and cardiovascular health: an update.Curr Med Chem. 2008;15(18):1840-50.
- Caffeine Content of Drinks. Caffeine Informer. https://www.caffeineinformer.com/the-caffeine-database. Accessed January 2019.
- Temple JL, Bernard C, Lipshultz SE, Czachor JD, Westphal JA, Mestre MA. The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review.Front Psychiatry. 2017;8:80. Published 2017 May 26. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2017.00080
- Lovallo WR, Whitsett TL, al'Absi M, Sung BH, Vincent AS, Wilson MF. Caffeine stimulation of cortisol secretion across the waking hours in relation to caffeine intake levels.Psychosom Med. 2005;67(5):734-9.
- Borota D, Murray E, Keceli G, et al. Post-study caffeine administration enhances memory consolidation in humans.Nature Neuroscience. 2014;17(9):1287-1287. doi:10.1038/nn0914-1287a.
- Oz HS. Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Green Tea Polyphenols.Nutrients. 2017;9(6):561. Published 2017 Jun 1. doi:10.3390/nu9060561
- Dodd FL, Kennedy DO, Riby LM, Haskell-Ramsay CF. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the effects of caffeine and L-theanine both alone and in combination on cerebral blood flow, cognition and mood.Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2015;232(14):2563-76.
- Unno K, Noda S, Kawasaki Y, et al. Reduced Stress and Improved Sleep Quality Caused by Green Tea Are Associated with a Reduced Caffeine Content.Nutrients. 2017;9(7):777. Published 2017 Jul 19. doi:10.3390/nu9070777
- Nobre AC, Rao A, Owen GN. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state.Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008:167-168. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328.
- Chacko SM, Thambi PT, Kuttan R, Nishigaki I. Beneficial effects of green tea: a literature review.Chin Med. 2010;5:13. Published 2010 Apr 6. doi:10.1186/1749-8546-5-13