Why the caffeine content in matcha beats coffee

It’s Monday. The weekend was amazing, but now it's time to get back to work. Whether you do so at work or at home, there is the familiar ritual of brewing a cup of coffee to kickstart the day. The roasted aroma and crisp, slightly acidic notes is immediately noticeable as you sip the coffee. It jolts you awake and provides a much needed boost to continue the day.

Caffeine in coffee vs matcha

The problem with coffee is that the “jolt” does not last very long. There is the inevitable crash, you lose steam, start feeling reduced energy levels, and you reach for your second (or third) cup of coffee. In comparison, the energy boost from matcha will easily last 4 hours without such side effects.

This is possible because matcha has a large amount of L-theanine, an amino acid that helps the body feel calm, relaxed and focused. L-theanine also controls the absorption of caffeine in the bloodstream. Even though matcha generally does not have as much caffeine as coffee, the caffeine boost lasts longer. Instead of a massive immediate caffeine spike, the body gradually uses up the caffeine in matcha over a few hours.

What exactly is L-theanine?

L-theanine is an amino acid found in various green and black tea beverages. 

  • During the shading process before the harvest causes the tea plant to increase amino acid production. 
  • There is a larger than usual concentration of L-theanine in matcha. 
  • You also consume the entire leaf when drinking matcha, so you get a larger amount of L-theanine compared to just drinking regular green tea.

How much caffeine is there in matcha?

The amount of caffeine in coffee beverages are usually premised on the type of beverage. Because matcha is made from ground tea leaves, you essentially ingest the entire tea leaf when you drink any matcha-based beverage. Therefore, how much matcha powder you use will determine the caffeine content in matcha.

A single  teaspoon of matcha contains about 70mg of caffeine, and will make slightly more than a cup of matcha tea. Based on the table below, you will notice that the caffeine content in matcha is very much comparable to that of coffee.

Item

Caffeine (mg)

Brewed coffee, 1 cup

100 

Espresso, single shot

60

Regular green tea, 1cup

35

Matcha, 1 tsp 

70

The lower dosage of caffeine in matcha also helps prevent the “coffee jitters” that many coffee drinkers have experienced. Unlike coffee, matcha is also much gentler on the stomach.

What about regular green tea?

You may also have noticed that a cup of regular green tea has 35mg of caffeine, this is lower than that of both matcha and coffee. Would we recommend matcha over green tea too? The answer is yes.

Again, the quality of caffeine in matcha is quite different because green tea has much lower levels of L-theanine. L-theanine is quite unique to matcha as it is formed when the tea plant is deprived of sunlight. For matcha, this occurs in the final few weeks before harvest when the tea plants are kept shaded under a canopy. 

This completely changes the amino acid profile of the tea plant and results in a higher concentration of L-theanine. Regular green tea is not shaded before harvest and will not have the same levels of L-theanine. The caffeine boost from green tea will likely not last as long nor be as effective. For more information, you may wish to read our explanation on the key differences between matcha and green tea.

But is it too good to be true?

There are a whole bunch of other potential benefits of drinking matcha. Matcha has more antixoidants than coffee. Matcha has cholorophyll which is known to have detoxifying properties. Matcha doesn’t leave you with the acrid, sour breath that you sometimes get after drinking too much coffee. 

However, matcha is slightly more expensive than coffee (when comparing the costs per serving). This is mainly due to the increased production and storage costs associated with matcha.  Cheap matcha tends to be bitter or astringent. You only get naturally sweet and pleasant vegetal notes if you purchase good matcha. Good matcha is mostly made in Japan, a developed country with higher costs.

For the record, we personally still enjoy coffees in various forms. The last thing we want you to feel is that coffee should be avoided. The key difference is that we  have replaced our daily coffee with matcha and are no longer reliant on coffee for keeping us awake through the work day. Instead, a cup of matcha tea powers us through each workday.

Less equipment is needed to make matcha

At the minimum, all you really need to make a good matcha tea is a bottle and a source of hot water. Unlike coffee, you do not need any machines, french presses or drip filters. There is also no need for any messy grinding. A bamboo whisk will help make the process more enjoyable and perhaps easier. But it is not a requirement unless you are trying to make traditional matcha tea (usucha and koicha).

Here are two easy matcha recipes for matcha beverages that you can easily make at home or in the office – even on the busiest of work days.

Easy matcha recipes for a midday caffeine boost

Matcha tea

We noticed that many people enjoy a form of matcha tea that is even thinner than usucha. The result is a matcha beverage that tastes quite light without losing its essential matcha flavor. This is very pleasant when enjoyed piping hot after lunch.

Ingredients

1 tsp (2g) of matcha powder

12 oz (350 ml) of hot water at 176F (or 80C) or lower

Directions

Combine the matcha and water. We prefer adding both matcha powder and water into a bottle and shaking until the matcha is mixed well. If you need more detailed instructions, visit the recipe page!

Cold Brew

Last summer, we had lots of fun preparing matcha cold brew. When made with the correct blends, matcha cold brew is extremely delicious and provides a refreshing energy boost. Best of all, it’s really simple to make.

Ingredients

1 tsp (2g) of matcha powder

8 oz (235 ml) of cold water

Directions

Combine the matcha and water. Our preferred method is add both matcha and water into a bottle and shake until the matcha is mixed well. If you need more detailed instructions, visit the recipe page!

Next in this series

Our guide on how to make matcha tea

How this article is organized What is “matcha tea”? What we mean by “matcha tea” is simply a category of matcha drinks made with matcha and water only. So this

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2 thoughts on “Why the caffeine content in matcha beats coffee”

    1. Naoki Matcha Team

      “Matcha tea bags” are usually made from a mix of green tea leaves with a dash of matcha powder (usually only 2%!). If you’re after the full benefits of matcha, go for the full experience by trying the powder form. Instead of finding a perfect “brand”, we’d invite you to find a specific blend of matcha that you like instead. Our brand really focuses on bringing a variety of blends so you have more options for different drink recipes and caters to your specific taste preference. If you like, just drop us an email at [email protected] and we’d be very happy to send you some materials that could help you decide!

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