Is matcha better than loose-leaf green tea? One study reports that over the course of 5 minutes, a hot water brew extracted almost the same amount of antioxidants between both matcha and loose-leaf green tea. Could it be true?
While a similar level of total antioxidants may be extracted during that short time, it’s calculated that less than half of all antioxidant content is released during the average hot water brew. [1-2]
Whereas powdered matcha – which is consumed in-full – may be absorbed over the course of digestion, not just 5 minutes. Plus, green tea has more than a dozen different bioactive antioxidants, and hot water doesn’t treat them equally. [10-11]
So, while matcha is an ideal choice to maximize antioxidant intake, it’s not unreasonable to take it a step further: can we do something before we drink our matcha, to help those powerful polyphenols absorb better during digestion?
How to Help Digestion: Optimal Gut pH and Antioxidants, Top Ways to Increase How Many Antioxidants per Day You’re Getting
It’s only fair to want the best for your health. Since matcha’ powder allows you to ingest the maximum amount of green tea antioxidants, here we review tips to optimize those health boosting compounds.
- If you prefer loose-leaf tea, cover your bases with a high-quality option.
The pH for Optimal Digestion, How to get more antioxidants
An important factor in how your body absorbs the matcha tea health compounds is the pH of your digestive tract. So much, that it's possible that some tea polyphenols may be degraded or mal-absorbed by an alkaline intestinal tract.
While it's suggested that matcha is incredibly good for health, it's certainly smart to do whatever's possible to give your body the best chance to benefit from it. In particular, the special antioxidants in matcha like EGCG are most stable in slightly acidic conditions – is it possible to keep them safe from inside the body?
A number of studies report that the simple addition of helpful acids, like those of lemon juice (e.g. vitamin C, citric acid) might mean wonders for improving their absorption – and our health. 
Also, even though the evidence is strong that all of the healthy micronutrients and healthy antioxidants in matcha are absorbed, unlike green tea, it is possible that a small amount could be better used by the body by adding some lemon juice.
With health, it's that "every little bit" that can make a big difference.
Lemon Matcha Tea, Should you Add Lemon to Green Tea?
While it sounds like a given to add lemon to your regular green tea, can the same be expected for the already unique and savory matcha powder?
Maybe not, especially considering that most people prefer to leave matcha in its natural glory. That’s why it’s a matcha-lover’s job to think ahead.
Simply by drinking some lemon water first, we may be able to change intestinal pH just enough to get the upper-hand on antioxidants. We can trust our matcha more and help it take our health to the next level.
Even if that means boosting absorption from 99% to 100%, every little bit helps.
Adding Lemon to Matcha Green Tea
Think of lemon like a primer to supercharge your matcha antioxidant absorption. It’s reported that as little as ¼ of a lemon could be enough to make those key antioxidants easier and more effective to absorb – even more than matcha, the superior form of green tea already provides! 
While most of the research measures the effects by directly adding lemon to the green tea, it’s not unreasonable to expect that simply drinking lemon-water before your matcha could prove of similar benefit.
- One source references that 10ml of lemon juice may increase total antioxidants by more than 20% in green tea. 
- For matcha, that might mean not even a single antioxidant is lost.
And without that lemon boost, more of the antioxidant activity of green tea is attributed to the flavonoids, a different group of antioxidants than the more familiar catechin polyphenols. 
It’s known that for ideal health benefits, a balance of these antioxidant types (both polyphenols and flavonoids) may be essential.
Thus, it's good to know that even if you're getting the vast majority of flavonoids and polyphenols direct into your body through daily matcha, that lemon could help take you to 100% efficiency.
Should you Eat Before Tea | Green tea with lemon
It probably won’t hurt to drink lemon before matcha tea, but more research could be useful to nail it down to an exact science. In the meantime, we can count on matcha to be an ultimate source of dietary antioxidants, especially when compared to regular green tea.
What to Add to Matcha | Matcha tea with lemon
Considering that matcha health benefits are a driving force behind the recent surge of interest, it’s important to stay vigilant on how food and drink may interact with this rare type of green tea powder.
While we think about maximizing absorption from 99% to 100% possibly through lemon juice, we can at least be cautious of foods which can hurt those numbers:
- Foods which have an alkalizing effect in the intestines, such as milk, are considered to reduce antioxidant absorption. 
- It’s also noted that certain proteins, like casein, can directly inhibit the catechin polyphenols in green tea.
These are some reasons why it’s recommended to enjoy matcha green tea on an empty or light stomach – perhaps similar to lemon juice – which can help you get more out of your daily matcha.
And even if you're not always taking extra steps to maximize your matcha, you can relax knowing that it may boost your health regardless of other factors.
How to Get the Most out of Matcha Green Tea with Lemon
Generally, matcha should be enjoyed plain and without too much food. If you are preparing a matcha latte, you should consider a non-dairy milk to keep your antioxidants in tip-top shape.
Although matcha is already the ultimate form of green tea health benefits, who's to say you cannot max them out just a little further? Maybe that's where lemon juice can help.
Even though matcha is superior for absorption compared to green tea, lemon juice may give a small boost to the efficiency of its benefits. Not required, but it probably won't hurt.
That’s a big reason why you might give “lemon before matcha” a try. And at least, a little bit of lemon is generally regarded safe, and with its own benefits, matcha or not:
- Lemon can help you hydrate
- It’s a source of vitamin C (like matcha!)
- It may help with healthy weight and skin
- Lemon may also prevent kidney stones
If you’re like us, you’d probably agree that adding lemon to your ceremonial grade matcha isn’t going to fly – unless it's a Matcha Lemonade of course.
However, lemon-water in the morning may help your daily matcha stretch even further, and that's certainly worth a try.
-Team Matcha Kari
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- Farooq, S., & Sehgal, A. (2018). Antioxidant activity of different forms of green tea: loose leaf, bagged and matcha. Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science Journal, 6(1), 35-40.
- Koláčková, T., Kolofiková, K., Sytařová, I., Snopek, L., Sumczynski, D., & Orsavová, J. (2020). Matcha Tea: Analysis of Nutritional Composition, Phenolics and Antioxidant Activity. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 75(1), 48-53.
- Shim, S. M., Yoo, S. H., Ra, C. S., Kim, Y. K., Chung, J. O., & Lee, S. J. (2012). Digestive stability and absorption of green tea polyphenols: Influence of acid and xylitol addition. Food Research International, 45(1), 204-210.
- Jeszka-Skowron, M., Krawczyk, & Zgoła-Grześkowiak. (2015). Determination of antioxidant activity, rutin, quercetin, phenolic acids and trace elements in tea infusions: Influence of citric acid addition on extraction of metals. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 40, 70-77.
- Zimmermann, B. F., & Gleichenhagen, M. (2011). The effect of ascorbic acid, citric acid and low pH on the extraction of green tea: how to get most out of it. Food chemistry, 124(4), 1543-1548.
- Tewari, S., Gupta, V., & Bhattacharya, S. (2000). Comparative study of antioxidant potential of tea with and without additives. Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology, 44(2), 215-219.
- Forester, S. C., & Lambert, J. D. (2011). The role of antioxidant versus pro-oxidant effects of green tea polyphenols in cancer prevention. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 55(6), 844–854. https://doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201000641
- Kim, D. B., Shin, G. H., Kim, J. M., Kim, Y. H., Lee, J. H., Lee, J. S., Song, H. J., Choe, S. Y., Park, I. J., Cho, J. H., & Lee, O. H. (2016). Antioxidant and anti-ageing activities of citrus-based juice mixture. Food Chemistry, 194, 920–927. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.08.094
- Kochman, J., Jakubczyk, K., Antoniewicz, J., Mruk, H., & Janda, K. (2020). Health Benefits and Chemical Composition of Matcha Green Tea: A Review. Molecules, 26(1), 85. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26010085
- Matcha Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Grade (Ceremonial, Classic, Culinary), By Application (Regular Tea, Matcha Beverages, Food, Personal Care), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2018 - 2025 (GVR-1-68038-666-0). (2017, August). https://www.reportsanddata.com/report-detail/matcha-tea-market
- Unno, K., Furushima, D., Hamamoto, S., Iguchi, K., Yamada, H., Morita, A., Horie, H., & Nakamura, Y. (2018). Stress-Reducing Function of Matcha Green Tea in Animal Experiments and Clinical Trials. Nutrients, 10(10), 1468. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10101468