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Getting Started with Matcha: 15 Questions and Answers

Nicholas Noble | February 26, 2020

15 Questions & Answers

Matcha is an expansive world with many common questions and curiosities. It’s also an exciting journey to learn where matcha can fit into your health and fitness routine, and even your daily rituals. Below we cover many of the hows, whats, and ifs of this magical world.

And be sure to check out more useful resources at the bottom of this article! Ok, here’s a list of 15 questions any matcha lover will ask themselves:

DOES MATCHA HAVE SIDE EFFECTS?

Matcha green tea is safe to drink. Yet, although rare, there are some possible side effects to watch out for, including upset stomach, suppressed appetite, and caffeine-sensitivity:

Caffeine - Like coffee and other tea, matcha also contains caffeine. The average serving of matcha contains about 35mg of caffeine, whereas coffee is about 120-150mg (they are chemically different too). Still, be sure not to overdo it.

If you have a reason to be careful about caffeine consumption, it’s suggested to consult with your physician first.

Upset Stomach - The natural antioxidants in tea, one group known as tannins, may cause occasional upset stomach for some. Premium quality matcha tea is higher in tannin content (more details here) because it’s grown well. While good for you, may cause irritation, usually to newcomers.

If you experience this side-effect, be sure you’re sourcing a high-quality matcha. And consider enjoying your matcha following breakfast or lunch.

Appetite - Since matcha is a calming, yet stimulating beverage, it’s possible that it will delay your sense of hunger. This mostly has to do with the caffeine, but it may also be due to the nutritional value of matcha. It can help keep you full with vitamins, trace minerals, and amino-acids.

Antioxidants like EGCG in matcha are also studied to elevate fat-burning, which may be responsible for suppressed appetite.

DOES MATCHA SUPPRESS APPETITE?

Matcha green tea can suppress appetite. Two of the biggest reasons why are that it activates fat-burning metabolism, and balances healthy blood sugar.

Green tea has been evaluated by medical researchers for decades due to its activity increasing fat-burning. It helps flip that ‘metabolic switch’ between glucose metabolism (sugars, carbs) and fat-metabolism. It’s reported that a healthy balance between the two can reduce inflammation and the risk of diabetes.

This effect has been coined ‘metabolic flexibility’ where our body can adapt to whatever type of fuel available. When we go without food, we become hungry to prevent the fat-burning metabolism. That’s because it’s a survival mechanism and fat helps keep us healthy in times with less food.

Matcha green tea is one thing which can actually give us added metabolic flexibility (full health benefits here). It increases the rate we burn calories. And we can transition in and out of fat-metabolism more freely. That means less cravings for sugars and carbs as you learn to more readily use fat for fuel.

WHAT IS MATCHA MADE OF?

Matcha has been made for nearly 1,000 years in Japan, by powdering specially grown green-tea leaves into a powder. This powder contains high levels of antioxidants and brain boosting amino acids like L-theanine.

DOES MATCHA TEA MAKE YOU POOP?

We like to say “matcha makes things happen” but in this case, yes, “matcha makes things move.” The caffeine and high levels of antioxidants in matcha indeed can help you poop.

It aids our bowels to move in the right direction, and people who have problems with irregularity or slow-digestion widely report benefits from matcha tea. Interestingly, the L-theanine inside matcha also works with caffeine to rev-up your metabolism without feeling anxious. That can be a great help to get things moving.

IS MATCHA ANTI-INFLAMMATORY?

Vibrant green matcha powder contains nature’s highest concentration of the antioxidant EGCg. This special polyphenol is revered by the integrative wellness community for potential anti-inflammatory properties.

Recent research suggests wide benefits not only against inflammation, but also auto-immunity, arthritis, metabolic syndromes, and more! It influences our body to reduce oxidative stress, a known inflammatory agent. And it also may trigger MORE of the natural chemicals our body produces to protect against excessive inflammation.

As little as a single bowl of matcha each day begins to have benefits. You can learn about other anti-inflammatory foods here, including where matcha fits into a healthy diet.

IS MATCHA GOOD FOR DETOX?

It’s natural to look for a vibrant green color when selecting healthy, detoxifying produce. Matcha is no different, its emerald green color comes from high levels of chlorophyll, argued to support a healthy detox strategy. Shade-grown matcha comes only from Japan, and has been helping the people there live healthy, detoxified, long-lives.

This rare form of green tea is hard to come by, and the dense levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and trace minerals make it the perfect foundation of a daily detox plan. The high levels of EGCG also support elevated fat-burning.

If you’re trying to cleanse yourself, it can help you reach those tougher stores of fat and support your metabolism from the inside, out. Bioavailable proteins and vitamins present in green tea also help to amplify your body’s other natural detoxification. Read our full detox report here.

IS MATCHA GOOD FOR SKIN?

Matcha and collagen are one of the biggest trends. The natural compounds in this special tea give our bodies a better chance at creating and replenishing that youthful glow. Matcha is ideal for daily nutritional support for skincare and skin-tone.

Vitamin E and some B vitamins are high in matcha which gives our insides the proper chance to produce collagen. Catechin antioxidants (including theaflavin) also protect against UV and oxidative damage. Also, matcha is a source of  Zinc, an essential mineral which shares anti-microbial benefits with this tea’s antioxidants, together associated with reduced acne and other blemishes.

Your daily matcha is a shield against the elements, inside and out.

IS MATCHA GOOD FOR WEIGHT LOSS?

If you’re looking for weight-loss, you’ve likely seen the importance of increasing fat-burning. One bowl of Matcha is suggested to increase the rate you burn calories and fat significantly more than other types of tea or coffee.

When part of a balanced diet and regular exercise, matcha is able to amplify the rate you burn fat. Studies have demonstrated elevated fat-oxidation, an indicator of fat-burning, in those who consume this tea.

Comparing it to normal green tea, matcha contains more than 100x the level of antioxidants associated with these benefits. Also, since you drink the whole leaf (as a powder) you get all of those benefits. It’s a great alternative to sweetened coffee drinks; plain matcha can even help you get energized without the extra calories.

Alongside other types of metabolic training, matcha is an ideal complement of a healthy, longevity-promoting lifestyle (read more here).

DOES MATCHA STAIN YOUR TEETH?

Premium, high quality matcha tea will actually do quite the opposite. This special tea is chemically different from black tea and coffee, so it doesn’t stain your teeth.

The dark tannin content in those other caffeine products are responsible for the staining effect. The tannins which are present in matcha tea are not the darker, staining kind. You may benefit from cleaner teeth from matcha because it keeps your oral-pH levels to a healthy balance.

Even better, the antioxidants may shield your enamel from the bleaching effects of common teeth whitening products. Can coffee say that??

DOES MATCHA MAKE YOU NAUSEOUS?

Matcha has high levels of a group of antioxidants known as tannins. Tannins can irritate your stomach, most often in those new to matcha, who accidently drink too much (or too quickly) on an empty stomach.

The tannins in matcha do healthy things inside the body, but they also temporarily raise the level of stomach acid, which may be an explanation for occasional nausea or queasy feelings. The tannins also are known to have an astringent effect on your stomach lining, reportedly adding to the effect.

The good news is that the higher qualities of matcha are much lower in the astringent type of tannins. They are also naturally higher in levels of calming amino-acids (L-theanine) which will promote a restful stomach. Nonetheless, it’s true that everyone is different.

You might feel great from one type of matcha while a friend feels sensitive in the stomach to it. The rule of thumb here is to check on your quality, the lower-quality (yellowish green, bitter) your matcha, the greater chance to feel nauseous.

The good news is that you can eliminate that side effect by enjoying your matcha with a non-dairy milk or light food. You may feel less of that Zen rush, but the effect will have a longer time-release when joined with food or added milk. That may be what you’re going for, anyway. If so, see a couple recipes.

DOES MATCHA CONTAIN SUGAR?

If you’ve been drinking matcha from your local donut shop, cafe, or retail coffee chain, we’ve got some (not so) sweet news for you. The average pre-made matcha latte in the U.S. contains up to 32g of sugar. 

But why so? There are two common explanations. The first one is that the average person is used to having sweetener in their daily beverages. So cafe’s will cater to this by adding multiple servings of sugar (bad for health?).

But the second, more unavoidable reason (you can always decline the sweetener), is that these popular coffee spots are sourcing a very low grade of matcha with poor taste.

MATCHA LATTE WITHOUT SUGAR?

Interest in matcha has exploded, and given rise to that ~$7 green tea latte. Priced to reflect the cost of the ultimate, premium grades of matcha tea, all while using the cheapest (imitation) matcha that cafes can find.

Sugar is their way to hide the bitter flavor. If you’re interested in matcha, you should know that it’s traditionally consumed without additives. And while it may be a matter of preference to some, your average pre-made matcha is going to boast high sugar, in place of what should be high quality (naturally sweet) matcha tea.

If being duped isn’t enough, the drive for cheap matcha (corporate profitability) has translated to a huge loss of the nearly 1,000 years of matcha growing culture in Japan. Less than 60 original tea-growing fields in Japan remain which produce the high qualities truly worthy of a $7 latte price tag. While the others have been forced by economic strains to cater to the lowest grades.

We won’t say not to indulge every now and then with a sweet drink. But if you’re going for health benefits, taste, and price-point, then nothing beats whisking-up’ your own matcha. Look for matcha products with only one ingredient: 100% stone-ground matcha tea from Japan.

IS MATCHA GOOD FOR ENERGY?

Matcha was the original energy drink for Samurai and Zen monks. Sipping it each day can positively influence your mood, energy, and overall sense of wellbeing! These effects stem from the high concentration of phytochemicals produced during traditional cultivation.

The biggest difference in the type of energy you get from matcha, comes from the amino-acid L-theanine. This is a non-essential amino-acid, which means we can do without it, but why not enjoy its benefits? It synergizes with natural caffeine to elevate serotonin, dopamine, and levels of GABA (a calming neurotransmitter). 

There are also nutraceuticals and special antioxidants like EGCG, polyphenols, tannins, and other catechins in matcha. These help optimize learning and memory, while working with L-theanine to reduce anxiety. The composition of matcha is so much richer than coffee or other drinks, these are only some of those ‘good-for-you’ properties. Perhaps most loved, the improved alertness and cognitive awareness.

IS MATCHA GOOD FOR STRESS?

We already know that matcha outranks other superfoods according to ORAC scale. But how does it stack up against stress? Well, the science says that the chemical structure of matcha might be the answer to relaxing through a stressful workday, even during an intense study sesh.

This versatility is owed to the long history of cultivating the tea-plant in Japan. To produce matcha, Zen monks selectively grew generation, after generation of tea plants until the ideal flavor and psychological effects were produced. This took hundreds of years, and hasn’t changed in at least that long; long-held as an art-form in Japan.

It was the preference for long hours of seated meditation which posed unprecedented mental and physical stress. And gave the Samurai calm, yet searing focus during battles of life and death.

With less demanding lifestyles for the average person today, matcha simply helps keep that essential balance of focus, physical energy, and even appetite! 

IS MATCHA VEGAN?

All matcha is vegan, at least, it should be. If you’re reading the ingredient label and all you see is “100% stone-ground matcha green tea”, then you’re set! But watch out, many of the products on the market in fact have added milk (and sugar) and possibly other non-vegan elements. 

Also it’s important to point out, that based on your preference for non-vegan products, you may also avoid produce which utilized animal products during the fertilization process. In this case, you want to look for USDA Organic matcha, which unlike the higher quality of ceremonial matcha, does not use fish-meal during the growing process.

If you’re confused, be sure to read our full report on the differences between organic and non-organic matcha, here. This traditional fertilizer is produced with sustainable, cruelty-free sourced fish-meal, and up until recently was unparalleled by organic approved fertilizers.

Still, organic is only beginning to catch up, so while authentic matcha is always 100% vegan, the fertilizer may not be. And unless you have an extenuating reason to avoid non-vegan fertilizers, you should opt for the traditional matcha because of the higher quality and density of nutrients. Good to have choices!

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