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Nutrition

Matcha vs. Green Tea: Which Is Best for Energy?

Need an afternoon energy boost to help you get through the day or finish an assignment at work? Instead of guzzling another cup of coffee, you might consider consuming a healthier beverage like matcha or green tea. Although matcha and green tea are fairly similar, one difference is how much of an energy boost you can expect. Let’s look at matcha vs. green tea and break down which is best for energy and other wellness benefits.

What Is Matcha?

Matcha is a beverage made from the Camellia sinensis plant. This plant is native to China and the core plant from which green tea is derived. However, matcha is grown in a very different process compared to “standard” green tea. For example, matcha tea bushes are protected from sunlight for between 20 and 30 days before they are harvested. In doing this, the farmers trigger higher chlorophyll levels. That means matcha tea leaves are usually darker green than traditional green tea leaves.

As a result, matcha tea leaves produce more amino acids. Next, matcha tea leaves are harvested, and the veins and stems are removed from the leaves before they are stone ground into the bright green powder you know and recognize. Matcha green tea is consumed when the fine powder is mixed with water, milk, or some other medium.

What Is Green Tea?

Green tea, just like matcha, comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. However, green tea is harvested and prepared differently. When creating green tea for consumption, farmers harvest the leaves very quickly and heat them up. By heating the leaves, they are stopped from oxidizing or turning brown. Leaves can be prepared in different methods depending on the type of tea being made. Green tea leaves can be pan-fired, sun-dried, or steamed to be processed. Regardless, all tea leaves are rolled and dried into their final forms. Then the tea leaves are steeped in hot water using tea bags or other tools, making an earthy and grassy beverage.

What Are Key Differences Between Matcha and Green Tea?

While they come from the same core plant, matcha and green tea do have several important differences (and health benefits). For starters, quality matcha has a bitter and slightly grassy taste. Because of this flavor profile, matcha is frequently served with sweeteners or in milk. Matcha lattes are popular in certain parts of the world, and many add matcha to smoothies or baking treats (where sweeteners like sugar and chocolate are commonly mixed in as well).

In contrast, while green tea also has an earthy taste by default, it’s not nearly as bitter as matcha. Cop lots of people drink green tea by itself. Others may consume green tea with mild sweeteners or added flavors like lemon.

The next main difference is that tea is made from soaked leaves. Matcha is made from whole ground matcha leaves instead. This causes some differences in terms of the nutritional content of both beverages. Matcha, for instance, is packed with more antioxidants like catechins and polyphenols. When you drink matcha, each tea leaf’s nutritional content ends up in your cup, rather than just part of it from soaking the leaf in hot water. The antioxidant difference is so pronounced that some studies indicate that just one cup of matcha is equivalent to 3 cups of green tea in terms of included antioxidants.

What Should I Know About Energy Boosts From Matcha and Green Tea?

The largest difference overall between matcha and green tea is the energy boost you can expect from consuming a cup of either. A standard serving of matcha is between 2 and 3 ounces or about ½ to 1 teaspoon of powder. Just one serving of matcha includes nearly 70 mg of caffeine.

In comparison, one cup or about 237 mL of standard green tea only provides 35 mg of caffeine (unless you use a green tea extract). Put another way, the energy boost from a single serving of matcha is approximately double that of the energy boost you’ll get from a single cup of green tea. Of course, the caffeine content is contingent on how much matcha powder you add to your beverage. Because you can add more matcha powder to hot water, milk, or another medium, you can easily increase the caffeine boost you give your body without having to make an entire cup of something else.

Is Matcha Better for Energy than Green Tea?

That’s not matcha’s only improvement over green tea in the energy-boosting department. High-quality, ceremonial grade matcha is a very good source of antioxidants, in addition to L-theanine: an important amino acid. L-theanine is found more often in matcha compared to other types of green tea. The potential health and energy boosting benefits of L-theanine are numerous, including:

  • Modifying caffeine’s effects throughout your body, such as by increasing alertness without necessarily causing drowsiness (which is a common side effect of coffee consumption)
  • Increasing the alpha waves in your brain, which are linked to low stress and mental relaxation
  • Increasing glutathione, another antioxidant that may protect neurons and other types of cells from free radicals
  • Boosting the feel-good chemicals in your brain like endorphins

Simply put, because matcha has much more L-theanine than green tea and other beverages, it is better for energy boosting than its tea-steeped counterpart. This isn’t to say that green tea can’t increase your energy levels. As noted above, green tea does contain a good amount of caffeine. Furthermore, since your body absorbs the caffeine differently, you will avoid the drowsy effect after consuming a cup of coffee if you drink green tea instead. Still, in a one-to-one comparison of energy improvements, matcha wins out over green tea every time. The benefits of matcha and green tea powder appear to be too good to ignore!

Is Matcha Better than Green Tea in General?

Not necessarily. For many, matcha is simply too bitter. To really enjoy drinking matcha, you may need to drink it in milk or at least some sweetener.

Green tea is different. For many, green tea is even easier to prepare. All you have to do is soak some green tea leaves in hot water, and you’ll have an afternoon beverage ready to go in a matter of minutes. In addition, some people find the extra caffeine from matcha to be too much for their systems to handle. Just like coffee makes some people feel jittery, you might try a matcha latte or tea and discover that it’s just too much. Green tea, in contrast, offers a good amount of extra energy in the afternoon without overloading your mind and body.

In fact, matcha has so much caffeine that drinking more than 2 cups per day, or 474 mL, is not usually recommended. It’s very easy to go overboard with matcha – the reverse is true with regular green tea, as you need to drink 4 to 5 cups of this beverage to get the same “over-caffeinated” effect. Plus, consuming matcha powder means you ingest the entirety of the tea leaves used to make it. This also means you may accidentally consume certain contaminants, like fluoride, heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants present in the soil when the original plant was grown. Steeping tea leaves is much less likely to lead to you ingesting potentially harmful chemicals. 

The best way to determine whether matcha vs. green tea is best for you is to try both. Have a cup of green tea since it is the lower of the two in caffeine content. Then have a cup of matcha in a latte or another beverage. Alternatively, have a baked good with matcha in it. Once you’ve tried both, you can compare their flavors and preparation and decide which is best for you.

Summary

At the end of the day, matcha vs. green tea is largely a subjective argument. You should drink whichever you find preferable! While they are similar, they have some flavor profile differences that might make you prefer one or the other.

Of course, there are other ways to boost your energy in the afternoon or at other times as well, such as breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, and much more. Check out 1AND1’s other resources for more advice and ideas!

Sources:

Matcha, a powdered green tea, ameliorates the progression of renal and hepatic damage in type 2 diabetic OLETF rats | NCBI

Retrospecting the Antioxidant Activity of Japanese Matcha Green Tea–Lack of Enthusiasm? | MDPI

l-Theanine as a Functional Food Additive: Its Role in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion | MDPI

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