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Pro Tip: Your Saturday Matcha (Matcha and Casein don’t mix?)

Nicholas Noble | September 21, 2019

Chances are, you were introduced to matcha as a caffeinated alternative to coffee, a pleasant flavor in lattes, or as an earthy accent and green color in baked goods. Even if you first experienced matcha during authentic Tea Ceremony in Japan, irregardless we’ve watched as a similar pattern unfolds for most everybody. 

We observe as people become reliant on, and grateful for its energy-optimizing health benefits. It may not be a miracle (more a creation of Zen Buddhism), but it does become something we deeply respect and make the most of — a daily ritual which stabilizes our mood, our outlook, and our physiology. 

Maximizing your matcha

We know how much you value your matcha, our pro-tip this week is to avoid consuming dairy with, or in the time close to your matcha. 

“Tea polyphenols have the ability to interact with milk proteins especially proline-rich proteins such as casein. The proline group in casein protein has a strong affinity for the hydroxyl groups in polyphenols, since casein has the greatest effect on the decrease in tea antioxidant activity than other proteins in milk”[1]

“The addition of dairy milk into matcha can reduce the antioxidant activity, because proteins in milk interact strongly with the antioxidants polyphenols from tea.”[2]

Catechins like EGCG are widely researched antioxidant polyphenols found in matcha. Here’s a list of catechins’ suggested health benefits:

  • Synergizes cellular mechanisms to improve energy and endurance
  • Reduces inflammation and LDL cholesterol
  • Possesses potential antitumor properties, particularly when consumed daily
  • Elevates BDNF, an important biomarker involved in cognitive health
  • Improves immunity and inhibits host-cell binding sites to prevent infection
  • Fewer cases of flu and up to 30% reduced incidence of common-cold

The bottom line

In 2007, European researchers published findings that the addition of dairy milk into common tea, like matcha, completely eradicated cardioprotective benefits. In their active form, the antioxidant catechins found in tea are beneficial to our cardiovascular system because they increase nitric oxide — the key compound in dilating our blood vessels. This effect increases peripheral blood flow and reduces strain on the heart.[3] 

It’s suspected that the suppression of this effect, and other key health benefits of catechins in matcha, is an explanation to the statistical differences in heart-disease and other causes of death between Europe and Asia. Since these two countries consume comparable amounts of tea, take a word from Dr. Weil, “If you really want the health benefits of green tea, you should try to develop a taste for it without milk.”

Finally, if you enjoy the taste of milk or creamer in a latte, try to occasionally drink matcha plain to give the body a chance to absorb the good stuff. If you absolutely rely on the rounding, smoothing taste of milk for matcha, we recommend the growing number of milk substitutes. Coconut cream, almond milk, oat milk — alternatives like these will taste great with your matcha, and you won't be losing out on key benefits.