7 Benefits of Matcha Green Tea

What is matcha tea - 7 benefits and one caution

Ever resisted a fad for a long time because you didn’t like it or it seemed frivolous only to try it later and discover that you had been missing out the whole time?

I have a list of things that I resisted to my own detriment (yoga pants and sushi top the list) but one that I’ve known and loved for years is Matcha Tea. I had a friend in high school who was from Japan and she introduced me to this amazing powdered green tea known as Matcha.

It has gained popularity lately, though many modern mentions of Matcha ignore the rich culture and traditional preparation that typically accompany matcha tea brewing.

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a special type of powdered green tea that is grown and produced in Japan (in most cases). The green tea leaves are shaded from the sun for the last few weeks of their growth, increasing the chlorophyll content and creating a gorgeous green color. Then, the leaves are carefully ground with stone grinding wheels to produce a fine powder.

The powder can then be used to brew an antioxidant rich frothy green tea or in recipes like smoothies or baking. Unlike other types of teas, the green tea powder is not strained out before consuming, so you are consuming the entire leaf, making Matcha more potent than other tea varieties. In fact, only 1/2 tsp is needed to brew a traditional cup of Matcha.

History of Matcha

In the Tang Dynasty in China, green tea was powdered and dried into bricks for easy use. People could then break off a small piece of the dried tea brick and stir into hot water. This provided a shelf stable green tea that was easy to travel with.

In the 1100s, a Japanese monk brought the idea of powdered tea to Japan, and this eventually evolved into the traditional chanoyu ceremony. Though the tradition of drinking powdered green teas has lost popularity in China until recent years, the tradition has persisted in Japan. Though originally only royalty and Samurai warriors were given Matcha because it was so time consuming and expensive to produce, it is now a popular drink throughout Japan.

For Matcha, the best tea bushes are selected and shaded from the sun for 3 weeks before harvest. Then, the best leaves are selected and ground by hand to produce a fine, bright green powder.

Benefits

Energy + Calm

Matcha tea is unique because the process of shading and harvesting increases the content of L-Theanine, an amino acid that helps balance the caffeine. While matcha may contain the same caffeine as other types of tea, the L-Theanine is known to create calmness without drowsiness.

Antioxidants

Another benefit to Matcha is the high concentration of antioxidants. One study found that Matcha has 137 times the polyphenols (notably, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)) than regular green tea. (1) In fact, this type of green tea contains over 60x the antioxidants of spinach and 7x the antioxidants of high quality dark chocolate.

There is some evidence that these polyphenols may have a protective effect against some types of cancer.

Weight Loss

EGCG, found in high concentrations in Matcha, has been shown to increase the rate of burning stored fat as energy, as well as decreasing the formation of new fat cells. Other studies have shown that the catechins in Matcha increase the body’s rate of calorie burning each day and offered additional fat burning benefit during exercise.

Healthy Heart

A 2011 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that the catechins in green tea had a significant effect on lowering LDL cholesterol. A 2013 Cochrane review also showed that regular green tea consumption was associated with lower blood pressure and an decreased risk of stroke.

Brain Power

The L-Theanine in green tea is known to help stimulate alpha brain waves. These waves are known for their ability to help increase focus and concentration.

Chlorophyll Source

The process of shading the Matcha leaves creates an increased amount of Chlorophyll, which some preliminary research has shown may help the body eliminate heavy metals and other harmful buildup. Research is still lacking in this area, but many alternative doctors recommend Chlorophyll for this purpose.

Skin Health

The same antioxidants that make green tea protective, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), may also help support skin health by reducing inflammation and free radicals that accelerate skin aging.

All That Glitters…

Is not gold, or green, as the case may be. Matcha has some amazing benefits, but one important caution and potential downside: lead.

All green teas, even organically grown ones, contain trace amounts of lead and fluoride. When brewed as traditional green tea, the leaves are removed, and most of the lead (and some of the fluoride) is removed with the leaves.

With Matcha, since the whole leaf is consumed, there is a higher concentration of lead. From everything I’ve read, this is not a reason to avoid this type of tea, since the levels are still low, but I would exercise more caution when pregnant for this reason.

Brewing Matcha

Though Matcha can cost $4 or more in a cafe, you can make it inexpensively at home. We enjoy Matcha as a treat about once a week, and I’ve also enjoyed experimenting with adding it to foods for color. Though in Japan, a tea ceremony is an elaborate practice that involves special cups, tea pots and bowls, there is a simplified process that you can use at home.

There are two ways to brew, as usucha or koicha. Usucha is a thin tea, while koicha is a thicker tea.

Needed Equipment:

  • A bamboo whisk and spoon (not absolutely necessary, but creates a much smoother and frothier drink than a regular whisk) TIP: in a pinch, use a blender.
  • Fine mesh strainer or sifter
  • A glass bowl for whisking
  • Small cups for drinking tea
What is matcha tea - 7 benefits and one caution

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Matcha Green Tea

Antioxidant rich green tea made from the powdered leaves of the tea plant is a source of beneficial polyphenos and nutrients.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon Matcha Powder (I got mine here)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) water at 175 degrees F

Instructions

  1. Sift the powder into the glass bowl using a fine mesh strainer or sifter.
  2. Slowly add the hot water.
  3. Whisk with the bamboo whisk in a "w" shape until frothy and well mixed.
  4. Drink immediately.

Notes

Though I'm sure it violates ceremonial tea procedure, I've also found that throwing the tea and water into my blendtec and blending is just as efficient and creates a frothy drink as well. You can also experiment with adding almond or coconut milk, or even a little honey, though these were not used in traditional teas.

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Ever used Matcha? What is the most unique way you’ve used it?

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Reader Comments

  1. The “I use this one” link to the Matcha is not working. I love green tea matcha and have been drinking it daily for years. Thanks

    • I guess I was too early. It works now 🙂

    • I love matcha! Such a good article! I’m Australian based so I bought my matcha from Zen Green Tea. I have been making lots of iced matcha drinks and also some “nice cream” bowls by blending frozen banana with matcha in a food processor! YUM

  2. Great post Katie! I love matcha tea. I started purchasing from Got Matcha and love the matcha blends they have, especially the chai blend. I’d be curious to know where you purchase yours from. I drank matcha almost daily while I was on a Candida cleanse diet and trying to detox after having several mercury fillings removed. It made ditching coffee much easier and the caffeine never exacerbated my anxiety like coffee did. I had never heard about lead concerns though! Something to keep in mind for sure. I’ve never used it in anything, but I’d like to try it in smoothies!

  3. I add it to my smoothies!

  4. I love Matcha! My favorite way to drink it is as a Matcha Latte……I mix the powder with coconut milk powder, sweetener and fresh grated nutmeg then store it in a jar. To serve put a tablespoon or so in a cup of hot water and whisk. So creamy and delicious! You said you enjoy it about once a week, would you not recommend having it oftener than that?

    • I’ve never even heard of coconut milk powder. Where do you buy it? I’ve noticed matcha blends better when mixed with other powders first so I love this idea!

      • I get mine from Whole Foods

    • A year ago I spoke to my Dr. About match tea. I have MS and thyroid problems my doctor said definitely Jot to drink matcha tea even from Japan. He said even if I didn’t have MS he would not recommend drinking it because of the high lead content. Can cause health problems especially if you don’t know about something going on in your body. Checked with my Neurologist and he basically said the same thing. I’ve tasted it and liked it but will not drink it.

      • I believe your Dr. is wrong. The high lead content may be present in the Matcha green tea from China. Some are concerned about radiation from Japan that is why you need to research this yourself and buy from Uji region. I am a nurse and I bet your Dr. did not spend half the time (if any) researching Matcha like I did. Medical school gives very little education on nutrition.With the Thyroid problem just google” Hashimotos and Matcha green tea” and you will hear both sides. Good luck and if I thought there was a problem drinking green tea I wouldn’t be drinking it even without your conditions.

  5. Just a quick note. Did you mean “increased risk of stroke” or the opposite? If it is lowering blood pressure, wouldn’t there be less risk of stroke. I figured it was a typo. Love the fact that you give such detailed info in all your blog posts. Thank you and I am quite a fan—passing your website along to many other blogs that I follow. Thank you.

  6. Under the Benefits section for “heart health” you state that matcha is associated with lower blood pressure and an increased risk of stroke. Did you mean a “decreased” risk of stroke?

  7. In this article, you state that consumption of green tea increases risk for stroke. Did you mean decrease?

      • Ive been wanting to buy and start drinking matcha, but im worried about which brand is free of lead and radiation . Can you please tell me which ones you drink ? Thank you very much,Lorie

        • I bought three different brands and also some ceremonial and culinary grade after much research. I did make one mistake though. Stay away from any product of China. I bought Enzo which has USDA organic on it. When I opened it the color was very pale compared to the others and also dusty looking so I searched the pkg. Found it came from Thailand but in very small print at the bottom it is a product of China. That is where the lead may be. Now to the good ones. Culinary grade is all you need for Lattes. I found Kenko to be the best in ceremonial and culinary grade followed by Jade Leaf. I bought my son and grandaughter the Jade leaf with bamboo whisks for Christmas.Jade Leaf is stone ground and from the Uji area of Japan(safe from radiation). Bought them all on Amazon. Good luck. We love the Matcha.

  8. Very yummy as a latte with Almond milk or as a treat as a refreshing Matcha Mint julep. Yum!

    • Got to try that!

  9. Great Article – I agree about just blending the matcha if you can’t be bothered with the traditional preparation – In fact even just throwing matcha into a shaker bottle with some water produces a good result – I do this with cold brew matcha and leave it in the fridge on a hot day :)) Some lemon or citrus helps cut through the astringency too and adds a great balance to the flavour.

  10. Does the brand suggested contain brown rice solids? I find a lot of matcha powders–the organic ones especially, are diluted with brown rice, but don’t tell you this in online descriptions. It seems to be a thing for a lot of imports to contain brown rice solids, but my friends from Japan tell me that it should be labeled as Genmaicha if that is the case.

  11. Hi Katie-
    I like you have Hashimotos. I have read in various places and was told by a nutritionist that people with thyroid issues should not drink green tea. I miss it and I really like kombutcha as well that is made with green tea. I know you have done extensive research and work with a Dr. regarding your thyroid issue.
    Would love to know your take on green tea consumption with a thyroid issue etc.
    Thank you so much in advance for any help and info with this!

  12. Hi Katie,

    I’ve read that too matcha green tea can be no good for thyroid concerns, which I have. It this why you only have it once a week?

    Do you know if a few times a week would be too much for thyroid related concerns?

  13. I love matcha mixed with a little water into a paste as a face mask. Really incredible difference after 1 mask. Relaxing with the smell of tea too. I used it over stretch marks too with a noticeable difference. I don’t like hot tea so my favorite way to get matcha in the morning was to blend some frozen bananas, cacao nibs, raw honey, and matcha. Like ice cream for breakfast. 🙂

  14. I just got an the tea bandwagon. I’ve been drinking oolong tea, which tastes (IMO) much better than regular green tea. Matcha looks interesting though.

  15. I have known for a long time that matcha tea is very good for you. However, I am reluctant to use it now as a result the Fukushima nuclear accident. How can you verify that the tea you have gotten from Japan does not have radiation? By the way, I love your website and think you do an amazing job educating us all on health and wellness. Thank you for all your wonderful research.

    • Curious about this as well.

      • Good question… it is on my list to update this post, but there is some concern that it could be in tea but most regions seem to be safe “Yes, most of Japan’s tea is safe. Tea from the Uji region, and the Yame, Kumamoto, Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures have not been found to have any radiation to date; they are all west of areas where radiation has been found. There technically is detectable cesium in all Shizuoka’s tea, though it seems that most does not exceed government standards. The jury is still out on how much of Shizuoka’s teas have been affected and whether it is localized to certain areas of the prefecture or certain processors. For what it’s worth, the acceptable radiation levels being used by the Japanese government are far more stringent than both United States and WHO standards, which can only benefit tea consumers. Obviously, pregnant women and children need to be extra cautious about radiation exposure in general. We should all consistently make informed decisions about what we put in our bodies – not just tea.”

  16. I started drinking a Green Tea that is a Power about 10-15 years ago. I bought the green tea at a show at the fairgrounds that was delicious!
    It was from Japan and was the whole leaf ground to powder and the lady was from Japan and she was telling me you get All the benefits from the tea because it is in powder form.

    I Loved it and bought some from her and started drinking all the time both hot and cold. I drank most of it in the summer because I would just add it to my water bottles and shake it before I would take a drink as the powder would always settle to the bottom. In the winter I drank it hot and kept a little wooden wish in my cup to stir before I drank it as again the powder would settle on the bottom.
    I lost 30 lbs in first three months of drinking this tea. I didn’t change anything I was doing. I never had the jitters that so
    Stinks I would and still do from drinking coffee.
    I still drink it and absolutely Love it.!
    But I am wondering now if it is a matcha.

  17. I would LOVE to drink matcha tea!!!
    I know of it’s wonderful benefits, and have several recipes calling for it.
    The horrible downside: Matcha only comes from either China or Japan.
    China is SO polluted, I can’t even contemplate consuming anything from there. And yes, that INCLUDES organic. Water and air are horribly toxic there, that ANYTHING grown, organic or not, is tainted. You should look at actual photos from fields of crops! yuk.
    And as for Japan: well, it has been documented that MANY foods grown in the region of Fukushima are making their way into other countries, despite the ban on doing so rather than being destroyed, and they are being faked as to actual location and country.
    You mentioned the lead issue. Tea plants actually thrive on some nasty organic components in the soil, lead, arsenic being two of them.
    It really ‘bites’ that many wonderful, healing foods are not consumable due to issues like this. Ocean foods from the Pacific are all toxic due to Fukushima and it’s continuing, ongoing pollution.
    Please, if you are thinking of consuming something, CHECK the SOURCE! Be aware of conditions where your food is grown, better yet, only consume foods grown in your own gardens, or those of farmers you KNOW to be untained by pollution or toxic practices.
    I am sorry to be so negative, but reality is what it is, and knowledge is important in order to make choices as to what we eat and drink and serve our families. What we choose to feed our families, KNOWING the good AND bad, and accepting that it might not be so great for us, is a choice, not something we do thinking it is all good, oblivious to the dangers.

  18. ~I HAVE BEEN DRINKING MATCHA TEA TWICE A DAY (½ TSP EARLY IN THE AM AND ½ TSP IN THE MID AFTERNOON) FOR SEVERAL MONTHS AND I LOVE IT. I’M ALSO CONFUSED BECAUSE I HEARD THAT IT CAN AFFECT YOUR THYROID FUNCTIONS. COULD YOU PLEASE PROVIDE US WITH SOME INFORMATION ABOUT THAT?
    THANK YOU 🙂

  19. I Loved it and bought some from her and started drinking all the time both hot and cold. Water and air are horribly toxic there, that anything grown, organic or not.

  20. Is the a benefit or difference in Chinese matcha vs Japanese matcha? I read you should only buy Japanese matcha, howevere, I always trust you opinion and research first.

    • I would have agreed with that before Fukishima, but now there is some concern about toxicity in japanese matcha, though this isn’t verified yet

  21. I used to be a pastry cook at a Japanese restaurant. We made a matcha pound cake for our fondue dessert and also a matcha ice cream that topped our flourless chocolate cake. Matcha and dark chocolate go so good together! I want to try your matcha marshmallow recipe and get crazy with some chocolate on those as well!

  22. I love matcha, but am scared to purchase it to make at home because I want a quality product. The one you have listed is not available at the time… Do you suggest any other brands? Also, I could drink matcha daily… Is there any reason not to have it that often? Thank you!

  23. I’ve had matcha green tea that a friend brewed and am now feeling inspired to brew it myself! Is there a reason that you suggest using a bamboo whisk? Or can a metal whisk be used? I also saw this recipe on A Couple Cooks blog that uses matcha on scrambled eggs: http://www.acouplecooks.com/2015/06/scrambled-eggs-with-matcha-and-lime-recipe/
    Probably the most unique way to use matcha that I’ve seen! I’ve been wanting to try that recipe, and now that I know all the health benefits of matcha I’ll definitely have to experiment with making tea, and lattes, and eggs, and whatever else seems like a good idea!

    • It is just the more traditional way and makes it more frothy, but a regular whisk would probably work too 🙂

      • Good to know! Thanks!

  24. Great information on Matcha tea …BUT, it should be also noted that not all ‘foods’ are for everyone. Matcha tea can be the wrong ‘food’ for anyone with an autoimmune condition such as thyroiditis-especially hyperthyroidism or Hashimoto’s. Green tea, including Matcha can stimulate an already lopsided immune system into more aggressively attacking the thyroid gland.

    • I have Hashimotos, could you direct me to the source that says it is bad to drink Matcha if you have this condition?

  25. I personally like to add a little pumpkin spice creamer to mine. I know it’s no longer super healthy that way but it taste so amazing. Especially for the fall.

  26. Trace amounts of fluoride is healthy and comes from a naturally occurring stone and is found in spring water. The only reason the US adds it to water is because the chlorine they use to disinfect the water displaces it. It’s really not harmful in trace amounts, unless you consult a source trying to sell you herbal toothpaste.
    Matcha grown in Japan isn’t tainted with lead, only matcha from China is tainted with lead, China has virtually no clean air/water laws and their soil is contaminated, Japan’s products are much safer. I love my morning matcha, I feel fabulous and if it keeps my teeth healthy, even better.

  27. Greetings from Australia, some advice please, my husband 68 years young, and a veterans table Tennis player, no 8 ranked in his age group, will be playing in a tournament next week for 10 days, would he benefit from green tea powder, made in to cold drink and also made into some protein balls, he is fit and healthy, and I would love to give him that special edge, and suggestions or comments would be most appreciated,thankyou for any help. Cheers Musha.

  28. I drink it every morning and add the powdered gelatine from Great Lakes. I didn’t know about the lead, good to know. I will drink more Mate (have you done a post on Mate from South America?) in between and rotate. I feel so good that i have been able to give up coffee. Thanks Katie.

  29. Both my husband and I have been enjoying Matcha green tea smoothies for a couple of months now.We have almost eliminated coffee and we are feeling so much more energetic.I tried different ways to make it since I have a electric milk frother and a Tassimo that makes lattes. This is my favorite way which only takes 2 mins. I like my drinks hot so I put the kettle on but not to boil. At the same time I put 4-6ozs. Almond milk or 2% milk in a cup along with some homemade syrups. I use ginger syrup with the milk and vanilla syrup with the Almond milk( taste variety). I microwave the milk to hot. While the milk is heating I put 1/2-1 tsp. Matcha powder in a measuring cup. I do use a bamboo whisk and mash the powder first, then I pour 2-3 ozs. hot(not boiling) water onto the matcha powder and whisk until frothy. Pour that into my hot milk and have a yummy , quick latte. I may try with the coconut milk in the carton next.

  30. I have hoshimoto’s as well. I’ve been drinking matcha for 2 months now. I go back in 2 weeks for a blood test and now I’m worried the matcha may have worsened my thyroid. I had no idea green tea could be bad for thyroid. I drink about 1 tsponce a day. Do you know if that is a safe amount? I’d hate to stop drinking it. I’m addicted ?

  31. Hey there! I just wanted to let you know that this post rocks, and I just linked it from my blog- I hope you don’t mind! I’ve personally had AMAZING results with matcha, and loved all the info you provided. Definitely among my top favorite superfoods. I have been able to be in the sun, (I live in South Florida), in the ocean, for hours at a time in the summer and have had my skin protected from the inside due to consuming matcha smoothies prior to getting out in the sun. It’s amazing.

  32. At the advice of your matcha green tea posts, I bought several bags and began my green tea regime, following amount it says to use on bag. After a few months I noticed my hair was falling out in clumps. I did research and found many, many other women had same problem. I did further research and found out that green tea esp the caffeine it contains ( about the equivalent of ten cups of tea for a small tablespoon worth of the powder), was causing it. Apparently according to the brilliance and research of Peter Eckhart MD, allllll caffeine raiseed estrogen levels by 70!!!! He said that all teas and coffee and many other spices and foods, raise estrogen levels. For a woman with any estrogen dominant based diseases, caffeine is the death to your already sluggish thyroid and hair falling out. I caution everyone to please do your research before jumping on any band wagon just because it works for some. Also another thing is the essential oils craze that is actually casusing cancer for many because the herbs that are used in those amounts are the equalivant of taking estrogen only birth control pills is high amounts. Herbs historically were used to cause miscarriage on purpose a hundred years ago and even in ancient cultures. As tjey say a sucker is born every day because people bank on the general public not doing their research. Estrogen dominance is a HUGE problem esp with all the other xenoestrogens in certain foods and spices, shampoos, laundry soaps, toothpaste (mint is highly estrogenic), lotions sunscreens, essential oils ( parabans and lavendar and many other,ingredients are also highly esteogenic), parfum, deoderants, make up and thats not even including what people eat off of or drink from.

  33. i recently read concerns about green tea extract . . . does matcha share the same concerns?

  34. Maybe have a cilantro chaser. I think cilantro binds the lead and removes it. At one point I was told to eat some cilantro with fish for the heavy metal binding with the cilantro. There may be an option for fluoride as well but I don’t remember.

  35. My great grandmother lived to be 104 years old there was no parmacy on the corner like to day.herbs and natural remedies is how they cured things back then.They also had garden with no pesticides and they had no health issues like we do today.I understand every bodies body is different.Unless you know for a fact that something is not good like lead in food and other harmful things a doctor is going to tell you not to do natural healing med or certain food because they also tell you to use man made meds that will kill you in the long term and not do natural food and remedies
    This said if it helps you natural foods and remedies do it do your home work because God gave us plants for food and medicines.Doctors and pharmies get paid big bucks to go the man made way that may kill you.

  36. I was wondering what the fine mesh strainer is needed for if it is supposed to disolve in before we drink it? Are we supposed to strain it? I didn’t see that in the directions and was curious before buying 🙂

  37. Very worried about comment made about estrogenic properties. I had estrogen related breastcancer years ago. Was excited about drinking matcha tea now I am worried estrogen is in so many things.

  38. Unfortunately, I don’t access to this gorgeous product.
    could you please tell me how can i find matcha green tea in our country (IRAN).

    Best regards

  39. Great post!
    As a Japanese person, I’m very grad to know that Matcha has become very popular drink outside Japan. The only one thing I concern is the quality of them, because I heard that many people have disappointed with the matcha they bought. It is better to know that many of Matcha outside Japan are low grade even if it is a ceremonial grade. In Japan we use low grade matcha for tea ceremony practice. The low grade matcha is also ceremonial grade. So, ceremonial grade only means it is an authentic match (authentic matcha means it is made from Tencha) and it dose not mean high quality.
    To find a good matcha, it is a good idea to resarch if the matcha you are interested is really popular in Japan!

  40. Unfortunately I feel the same as any other time I research thyroid issues/ dietary benefits… Deflated, scrolling down to not get enough info to whether green tea is actually beneficial for us with thyroidtoxitosis/graves/over active.. I’d love to have a couple a day even 1, but I just don’t see how a highly caffeinated tea is good for us. My basic knowledge leads me to believe it would trigger the ‘overactive’ actions of the thyroid at some point. May just stick to my balanced diet and smoothies

  41. Your article is so informative and interesting. I have purchased flavored matcha green tea after reading your post and it was really good. Thank you so much for spreading the health benefits of Matcha green tea.

  42. I love matcha green tea! I have made matcha brownies, better know as “greenies” which were yummy! But I want to find a better option than fake “white chocolate.” Also I love using matcha in place of coffee for my healthy fats drink in the morning! Add your butter, coconut oil, sweetener of choice (less is better) maybe a splash of almond of coconut milk and the traditional brew for matcha tea, (water and 1/2 TSP matcha) blend and enjoy!