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Coffee but a Modern Affair?

Nicholas Noble | July 24, 2019

The Original Energy Drink

People seem accustomed just fine to the idea of a daily coffee. The morning venture to Starbucks or their preferred café goes without a second thought; it has become so ingrained, that for many to think-twice and skip a day would feel foreign. On one hand, coffee is a strong drink, its caffeine content and lack of modulating compounds like in matcha can make for a rush that becomes depended on as a kickstart to the day’s workflow. Yet, on the other hand it’s also fair to commend those who appreciate such a daily ritual, or the importance of relying on something outside ourselves to ground and balance our actions. In most cases it’s arguably a bit of both, but who decided coffee to be the gold-standard? Is there a clear alternative for health conscious people, something unlike coffee comes recommended at least twice a day?

It’s not that we don’t get it, coffee is actually quite humanistic. Cultures historically and around the world today are host to a plethora of unique natural stimulants, tonics, and compounds which influence energy levels and even athletic performance. That said, even coffee’s oldest historical records only date back to around the 17th century. Unlike matcha green tea which originated around the 11th century, and green tea itself with more than 5,000 years behind it, coffee is seen as more of a modern affair, a guilty pleasure — begging the question — have we lost our roots? 

Ancient ties

Maybe it has something to do with matcha’s ancient ties to healthy living, a time-vetted longevity promoter subject not only to daily drinking, but by best practices consumed throughout each and every day. As an oasis of modern scientific and clinical research, when we think of coffee we don’t think much of cutting edge cancer research or neuromodulation as we do with matcha. When we think between coffee or matcha we don’t feel torn between potent and bioavailable antioxidant compounds. We also don’t stop to ponder who obviously takes their health more seriously. In fact, caffeine and ritual aside, these two drinks haven’t much in common.

If not from those who’ve made the switch themselves, this comparison rather highlights that yes, maybe we have lost our roots. Health, wellness, and clean ‘hustle energy’ like found through matcha have been generationally cast aside in America. Health-defeating trends in diet and lifestyle, and the trope of ignoring one’s own physical needs to clock an extra couple hours at work, all too commonplace. While high levels of productivity and work ethic are respectable, brutalizing one’s metabolism and cellular health with the wrong type of fuel like coffee — not so much. 

Best practices for daily drinking

That’s why leading research specifically recommends drinking matcha both morning and midday, or at least twice a day. As a superior replacement to coffee, science best supports matcha’s health benefits when 2-3 average servings are consumed each day. Moreover, those recent studies indicate consistent consumption for at least 3 months to fully sustain increased catechin antioxidants levels such as EGCG in blood plasma, as well as clear improvements in biomarkers for neuronal and cognitive health such as neurotrophic and nerve growth factors.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson alluded, every plant has virtues — we won’t entirely bash the coffee bean, but it’s becoming clearer that matcha offers virtues far more fitted for daily energy maintenance, cellular health, resisting the effects of aging, and overall good living. It’s like empty calories vs. a well-balanced meal, a lot of people are simply not taking their health seriously, where choosing coffee over matcha is just one problematic symptom. 

Let’s talk of all that you stand to gain:

  • Caffeine: The caffeine content in matcha is actually quite comparable to a normal cup of coffee. The average serving of matcha can contain between 35-70mg of caffeine, but it’s recommended to have more than one serving per day. Modulating compounds in matcha like L-theanine allow for you to consume it during, and throughout any part of the day without interfering with healthy sleep cycles. This natural synergy also allows for a more steady release of improved energy. That means that even if you’re getting a bit less total caffeine, your total energy levels will be greater, and more sustained.
  • L-theanine: This special amino acid is unique to matcha, and has been deeply favored by Zen monks for centuries for its powerful effects on the brain and central nervous system. L-theanine promotes a sense of relaxation, in part by attenuating levels of alpha brain-waves. It synergizes with caffeine to negate sleep disturbance, and is closely associated with neuroprotective and immune-boosting effects. It also naturally increases levels of GABA, a separate calming agent in the brain, while encouraging neuronal growth and markers for nerve health.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Matcha also promotes daily and long-term energy levels by acting as a multivitamin. Each bowl of matcha packs a surprising punch of vitamins A, C, E, K, and B-complex. Premium, first-harvest matcha also contains high levels of important trace minerals such as selenium, chromium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and more. Because these are all naturally occurring forms of vitamins and minerals, they’re easily absorbed in the body, and actively restore and replenish your body throughout each day. 
  • Potent Antioxidants: Matcha is host to a significant number of antioxidants. These include polyphenols and phenolic catechins, of which the well-known epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) belongs. EGCG is world-renowned as one of the strongest natural antioxidants, it is also suggested to boost brain health and reduce the risk for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. While present in miniscule amounts in other natural sources, matcha is its most prolific source.

The bottom line

So, you’re obviously getting a lot more when you consume matcha, especially when following the recommended guidelines of 2-3 times a day. Although we won’t deny there is some indication to minor antioxidant activity from coffee (related to its tannin content, polyphenols which are also present in wine), the pool of modern science clearly favors the far superior functionality of matcha. It is the ultimate form of green tea, containing not only potent antioxidants and comparable caffeine, but also special amino acids and trace nutrients. Matcha is also chief to green tea’s more than 5,000 years of historical mention, medicinal literature like in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and overall those ancient practices of longevity and incredible vitality in daily living — you’re not only getting the cutting edge of science, but more than 10 times the time-tested benefits as from coffee — just remember to drink up, 2-3 times a day!