Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Is Matcha Tea Bad For You?

Also Known As: Matcha green tea



Short answer

Matcha tea is packed with antioxidants, particularly catechins like EGCG, which offer health benefits such as reduced inflammation and risk of chronic diseases. It contains caffeine and L-theanine which provide a sustained energy boost. Be cautious of potential lead contamination, and opt for organically certified matcha to avoid pesticides and ensure purity. Commercial matcha products may contain additives and sweeteners that negate health benefits, so reading labels is key. Matcha may interact with certain medications and conditions, so consult with a healthcare provider if concerned.



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Long answer

Matcha Tea's Nutritional Profile and Antioxidant Content

Understanding the nutritional profile and antioxidant content of matcha tea is crucial to evaluating its potential impacts on health. Matcha, a traditional Japanese green tea powdered form, has gained significant attention for its rich nutrient composition and high levels of antioxidants.

Nutritional Composition:

Matcha tea is a calorie-light beverage that is packed with various vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting compounds. A standard serving of matcha (about 2 grams of powder) generally contains:

  • Fiber: Approximately 1 gram
  • Protein: Roughly 1 gram
  • Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and several B vitamins
  • Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron
  • Chlorophyll, which may have detoxifying properties
  • Amino acids, including L-theanine which can promote relaxation and alertness

It's important to note that the concentration of these nutrients can vary depending on the quality of matcha and the preparation methods.

Antioxidant Power:

Matcha is especially lauded for its antioxidant profile. Antioxidants are compounds that help prevent oxidative stress, a type of damage to cells caused by free radicals. The main antioxidants in matcha are called catechins, a type of polyphenol.

Epicgallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the most abundant catechin in matcha and is extensively studied for its potential to fight inflammation, aid in weight management, and decrease the risk of chronic diseases. Studies suggest that the concentration of EGCG in matcha tea is at least three times higher than that of most store-bought green teas.

Comparison of Antioxidant Content:

To give perspective on the antioxidant content of matcha tea, here's a comparison table:

Antioxidant Source Antioxidant Content
Matcha Tea Approximately 1348 units/g ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity)
Regular Green Tea Approximately 1253 units/g ORAC
Blueberries Approximately 4669 units/g ORAC
Dark Chocolate Approximately 20816 units/g ORAC

This table shows that matcha has a high antioxidant capacity, even when compared to other foods known for their antioxidant properties.

Collectively, matcha's unique blend of nutrients and its powerhouse of antioxidants make it a beverage with the potential for significant health benefits. However, its effects can vary from person to person, and the existing research is still budding. As we continue to explore the intricacies of matcha tea, its overall profile remains promising in the realm of health-boosting foods.

The Caffeine in Matcha: Comparing Effects and Dosage

Matcha tea has risen in popularity due to its perceived health benefits and unique flavor. But when considering its caffeine content, it's essential to understand how it compares to other caffeinated beverages and what that means for your health. Firstly, it's worth noting that the caffeine in matcha is released slowly over time, which can lead to a more sustained energy boost without the jitters and crashes often associated with coffee.

Understanding Matcha Caffeine

Unlike the quick hit of caffeine you get from a cup of coffee, matcha releases its caffeine gradually due to the presence of a natural substance called L-theanine. This amino acid promotes relaxation without drowsiness and modulates the effects of caffeine, resulting in a more balanced energy boost.

Caffeine Comparison

  • A standard cup of brewed coffee typically contains about 95 mg of caffeine.
  • An 8-ounce serving of black tea offers roughly 47 mg of caffeine.
  • A single shot of espresso contains about 63 mg of caffeine.
  • Matcha, however, contains a higher amount of caffeine than regular green tea, coming in at approximately 70 mg per cup.

These amounts can vary based on the preparation and strength of the beverage. However, what makes the caffeine in matcha different is not just the quantity but its synergistic relationship with other compounds in the tea.

Dosage and Effects

The recommended serving size for matcha is 1-2 teaspoons (2-4 grams) of matcha powder per cup, translating to about 140 mg of caffeine if two teaspoons are used. This is under the general guidelines for caffeine consumption, which recommend no more than 400 mg per day for most healthy adults - the equivalent of about 3 to 4 cups of brewed coffee.

While the side effects of excessive caffeine intake include restlessness, insomnia, and increased heart rate, matcha's unique caffeine release mechanism can mitigate some of these issues. It is still crucial for sensitive individuals or those with certain health conditions to monitor their matcha intake closely.

Considerations for Different Populations

It is important to be aware that certain populations may need to limit their caffeine intake:

  • Pregnant women are often advised to limit caffeine to 200 mg per day.
  • Individuals with anxiety disorders may find high caffeine intake exacerbates their symptoms.
  • Those with heart conditions should consult their doctor about safe caffeine consumption levels.
  • People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) might find that caffeine triggers their symptoms.

Considering these factors, while the caffeine in matcha tea presents a different set of effects and dosages than other caffeinated beverages due to its L-theanine content, it is not without its considerations. Awareness of both the benefits and potential side effects can guide consumers to enjoy matcha in moderation, ensuring its energizing qualities do not disrupt overall wellness.

Lead Contamination: How It Occurs and Its Health Implications

Lead contamination in tea, including matcha, can occur due to various environmental factors. The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, is known to absorb lead from the soil, which can be contaminated due to nearby industrial activities, use of high-lead pesticides, or even past use of leaded gasoline. As matcha is a type of green tea made by grinding the whole tea leaf into a fine powder, the risk of consuming lead increases since you ingest the entire leaf. Unlike with regular tea leaves that are steeped and then removed, nothing is discarded in the case of matcha.

The health implications of lead exposure can be serious, as lead is a toxic heavy metal that can affect multiple bodily systems, especially the nervous system. It is particularly harmful to children as it can result in developmental issues and decreased IQ. In adults, chronic lead exposure may lead to kidney damage and increased risk of hypertension and heart disease.

To minimize the risk of lead exposure from matcha, consider these factors:

  • Origin: Tea plants grown in polluted areas are more susceptible to lead absorption. Choose matcha from regions known for cleaner air and soil.
  • Organic Certification: While not foolproof, selecting organic matcha can reduce the risk since organic agriculture restricts the use of certain pesticides that might contain lead.
  • Certifications and Testing: Look for brands that regularly test their matcha for heavy metals and provide transparency about their results.
  • Frequency of Consumption: Limiting the amount of matcha you consume can reduce the risk of lead accumulation in your body.

To further illustrate the concern, a study by ConsumerLab.com found that some matcha products contained over 30 times more lead than brewed green tea. This alarming statistic highlights the importance of choosing high-quality, tested matcha products to ensure safety.

Health experts typically advise that pregnant women and young children should be especially cautious with their matcha intake due to the susceptibility to lead's negative health effects. Always consult with a healthcare provider before introducing regular consumption of matcha, particularly for at-risk populations.

In summary, while matcha is celebrated for its potential health benefits, it is crucial to be aware of the risk of lead contamination and take proactive steps to minimize it. Doing so ensures that you can enjoy the positive aspects of matcha without compromising your health.

Additives and Sweeteners in Commercial Matcha Products

When exploring the wellness landscape of matcha tea, one might stumble upon a wide assortment of matcha-based offerings that range from the purely traditional to the heavily commercialized. This green powder, celebrated for its rich nutrients and antioxidants, can sometimes be accompanied by less desirable ingredients when purchased outside of specialty tea shops or in pre-mixed formats.

Commercial matcha products, particularly those found in ready-to-drink bottles, matcha-flavored snacks, lattes, or even some powdered mixes, often contain additives and sweeteners. These additional ingredients can not only dilute the natural health benefits of matcha but also introduce potential health risks when consumed excessively.

Additives: Common additives include preservatives such as sodium benzoate or potassium sorbate, which prolong shelf life. There might also be emulsifiers like soy lecithin, which help in maintaining product consistency. While generally recognized as safe in small quantities by the FDA, studies suggest that chronic exposure to these chemicals may have negative health implications.

Sweeteners: Sweeteners present a double-edged sword. They make matcha more palatable for those with a sweet tooth, inviting new enthusiasts to the matcha fold, yet they contribute additional calories and can potentially lead to sugar-related health issues. Many commercial matcha drinks are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup or large amounts of cane sugar, both of which could offset matcha's potential benefits for weight management and blood sugar control.

Consider the following table for a comparison of common additives and sweeteners found in matcha products:

Additive/Sweetener Potential Health Considerations Commonly Found In
Sodium Benzoate May form benzene, a known carcinogen, when combined with ascorbic acid. Ready-to-drink matcha beverages
Potassium Sorbate Possible allergen, may cause skin irritation. Matcha powder mixes, matcha-flavored desserts
Soy Lecithin Generally safe, but may be problematic for those with soy allergies. Pre-packaged matcha lattes, confections
High-Fructose Corn Syrup Linked to obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. Bottled matcha teas, matcha-flavored beverages
Cane Sugar Excess intake can lead to weight gain, cavities, and increased triglycerides. Commercial matcha lattes, matcha-infused baked goods

Health-conscious consumers should be vigilant and read labels carefully. The best practice is to seek out pure matcha powders without additional ingredients, allowing you to control the amount and type of sweetener, if any, you choose to add. For those looking to enjoy matcha's full spectrum of health benefits, it's recommended to avoid or limit products with these additives and sweeteners.

Expert opinions coalesce around the idea that matcha in its purest form offers the highest level of benefits. According to a study published in the Journal of Chromatography A, the catechins (beneficial antioxidants) present in matcha are much more prevalent in pure forms than in ready-to-drink products that contain additives. Therefore, for those looking to reap the antioxidative properties of matcha, it is advised to opt for traditional, unsweetened matcha tea preparations.

The Importance of Organic Certification in Matcha Tea

When diving into the world of Matcha tea, it's crucial to understand the significance of organic certification. Organic certification is a label given to products that meet a standard set by various organizations and governments, indicating that the product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

This certification is particularly important for Matcha tea for several reasons:

  • Chemical-Free Cultivation: Matcha tea leaves are grown by covering them for 20-30 days before harvest to encourage chlorophyll levels and increase amino acid production. This process results in a richer, greener tea. Without organic certification, there is a risk that the tea plants may be exposed to pesticides and synthetic fertilizers during this sensitive period, potentially leading to a higher concentration of chemical residues in your cup of Matcha.
  • Purity of the Product: Since Matcha powder involves grinding the whole tea leaf, any contaminants on the leaf will end up in the final product. Organic certification helps ensure that the leaves are free from prohibited substances and farming practices that can harm health and the environment.
  • Environmental Impact: Opting for organic Matcha contributes to sustainable farming practices. This is crucial because Matcha cultivation, when done conventionally, can lead to soil depletion and a negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem due to chemical inputs.
  • Health Benefits: Many consumers seek Matcha for its health benefits, which include a high concentration of antioxidants, notably catechins. Organically certified Matcha could potentially maintain a more robust profile of these beneficial compounds since it's grown without the use of potentially harmful pesticides that can interfere with plant nutrient uptake.

Considering these points, it's evident that the organic certification of Matcha tea plays a significant role in ensuring you're sipping a high-quality product that's not just good for your body but also for the environment. However, it's crucial to recognize that the 'organic' label doesn't mean the absence of all harmful substances. For instance, organic farms can still have issues with contaminants such as heavy metals, which can be naturally occurring or due to environmental pollution. Such risks make it essential to trust the source of your Matcha tea.

Studies have shown differences in the phytochemical content of organically vs. conventionally grown teas. A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that organic teas might have higher phenolic content and antioxidant activities compared to non-organic variants (Zhang et al., 2012). Nonetheless, a comprehensive approach to evaluating the value of organic certification should consider not only the health aspects but the broader environmental and sustainability benefits.

When choosing your Matcha powder, look for reputable brands with transparent farming practices and certifications from recognized organizations such as the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Organic label, Japan's JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standards), or the EU's organic certification.

The demand for organic products continues to rise, and with the right knowledge about what organic certification entails, consumers can make informed choices that align with their health and ecological values. In the realm of Matcha, organic certification is not just a buzzword; it's a meaningful guide to selecting tea that's produced with careful consideration for its various impacts.

Potential Side Effects and Interactions with Medications

While matcha tea is lauded for its health benefits, it's also crucial to be aware of its potential side effects and interactions with certain medications. Understanding these can help you enjoy matcha tea responsibly and mitigate any unwanted effects.

Caffeine Sensitivity: Matcha tea contains caffeine, though in lesser amounts than coffee. However, because of its unique preparation, you ingest the entire tea leaf, which can increase the overall caffeine content. Those with a caffeine sensitivity might experience insomnia, palpitations, dizziness, or irritability. A study published in the Food Research International journal sheds light on caffeine's wide variation in tea leaves, further complicating the prediction of its effects on an individual basis.

Iron Absorption: The high levels of catechins in matcha can potentially interfere with iron absorption. Catechins bind non-heme iron, found predominantly in plant sources, making it more difficult for the body to absorb. For individuals with iron-deficiency anemia or those on a vegetarian or vegan diet, careful consumption of matcha tea around meals is advisable.

Bleeding Disorders: Matcha contains Vitamin K, which is known for its role in blood clotting. Individuals taking anticoagulant medications like warfarin should monitor their matcha intake, as fluctuations in Vitamin K levels can affect drug efficacy. The Journal of Medicinal Food underscores the careful management of such foods in patients on anticoagulant therapy.

Liver Disease: Excessive consumption of green tea extract has been linked to rare cases of liver toxicity. While the consumption of matcha tea in moderate amounts is generally safe, those with liver conditions or taking medications that impact the liver may proceed with caution. The European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology reports cases associating high intakes of green tea extract with hepatotoxicity, indicating a need for awareness and moderation.

Anxiety Disorders: The presence of caffeine, despite its lower levels compared to coffee, means that matcha might exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and increase feelings of nervousness. A balanced approach and understanding one's limits are essential for those with anxiety disorders.

Drug Interactions: Matcha tea can interact with certain medications, potentially influencing their effectiveness. Some of these include:

  • Stimulant drugs: Matcha may increase the effects of drugs that stimulate the nervous system, leading to heightened side effects.
  • Antibiotics: Some antibiotics may have their efficacy impacted by the polyphenols in matcha, which can bind to the drugs and reduce absorption.
  • Birth control pills: The caffeine in matcha might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills due to its impact on estrogen metabolism.

Before adding matcha tea to your routine, especially if you regularly consume medications or have sensitive health conditions, a discussion with your healthcare provider is highly recommended.

Frequently asked questions

Matcha tea can be particularly beneficial when consumed in the morning to take advantage of its sustained energy-boosting effects without the crash associated with coffee. It can also be helpful as a pre-workout beverage due to its combination of caffeine and L-theanine, which may enhance focus and alertness during physical activity. However, since matcha contains caffeine, it's advisable to avoid consuming it late in the afternoon or evening to prevent potential disruptions in sleep patterns. As with any source of caffeine, matcha should be enjoyed mindfully, respecting individual tolerance levels.

Matcha tea may aid in weight loss through a combination of mechanisms. The presence of catechins, particularly EGCG, has been associated with increased metabolism and fat oxidation. Additionally, the caffeine content can provide a mild stimulant effect, potentially enhancing exercise performance and energy expenditure. Furthermore, the amino acid L-theanine in matcha can promote a state of relaxed alertness that may help reduce stress-induced snacking. However, weight loss is complex and involves numerous factors, including diet quality, physical activity, and genetics. Matcha can be part of a healthy weight management plan, but it's crucial to incorporate it into a balanced lifestyle.

Matcha tea and green tea extract supplements both originate from the Camellia sinensis plant and contain similar compounds, such as catechins and caffeine. However, matcha tea is consumed in whole-leaf powder form, which means you ingest all the nutrients from the leaf, potentially providing a broader range of benefits than extracts. In contrast, supplements typically contain concentrated doses of specific compounds, such as EGCG, and may not provide the full spectrum of nutrients present in matcha. It's also essential to consider that supplements might carry a higher risk of adverse effects, such as liver toxicity when consumed in excess. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen.

To identify high-quality matcha, look for a vibrant green color and fine texture, indicating freshness and proper processing. Choose matcha that is ceremonial-grade, which tends to be of a higher quality than culinary-grade used for cooking. Assess the product's origin, as certain regions have stricter quality and safety regulations. Reputable brands will often provide information on organic certification and lab testing for contaminants, including heavy metals. Reading labels and opting for matcha that has no additives or fillers also contributes to the purity and potential health benefits of the tea.

Ask a question about Matcha Tea and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • insomnia
  • palpitations
  • dizziness
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • gastrointestinal upset

Possible long-term side effects

  • iron absorption interference
  • potential kidney and liver damage
  • chronic lead exposure effects
  • increased heart rate
  • hypertension risk
  • developmental issues in children
  • dental issues from sweetener-laden products

Ingredients to be aware of


  • rich in antioxidants
  • high in vitamins and minerals
  • promotes relaxation and alertness
  • detoxifying properties
  • aid in weight management
  • reduced risk of chronic diseases

Healthier alternatives

  • organic matcha
  • unsweetened matcha
  • home-prepared matcha with controlled additives

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Encha Ceremonial Matcha

  • First-harvest quality
  • Organic certified
  • Sourced from Uji, Japan
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Ceremonial grade
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-01-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-01-2023

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