What is Caffeine?

What is Caffeine?

by Monica Ring January 04, 2019

What is Caffeine?

Does matcha green tea have caffeine in it? When we hear the word “caffeine,” we naturally think of coffee or soda. Well, have you ever ordered a matcha green tea latte at Starbucks, thinking it would simply be a sweet, refreshing drink? Here’s a little secret that you might not have known: There actually is caffeine in matcha green tea. 

While coffee will give you an energy boost to start your day, you will certainly find that by the end of the day, you are crashing, and your brain suddenly decides to shut down all at once. This is because the caffeine in coffee causes an immediate rush, but very similar to energy drinks, the positive effect will only last for so long before you become irritable and anxious once again.

Caffeine in Matcha

Matcha caffeine, however, provides various health benefits to the human body. Matcha green tea caffeine contains an amino acid called l-theanine. L-theanine complements caffeine by slowing down the way the human brain reacts to the drink. Rather than causing an immediate outburst of energy, and then shutting you down like a robot, l-theanine slows down your body’s reaction to the caffeine, providing for a longer lasting and more productive day. Think of it this way: l-theanine and caffeine act as two separate ends of a magnet. Although they are both complete opposites, they are attracted toward one another. Therefore, they create a neutral reaction, instead of a negative reaction. When a neutral reaction occurs, you will find that stress is significantly reduced, and productivity is significantly increased. This is due to both a lower heart rate, as well as reduced anxiety.

Caffeine Health Benefits

Another outstanding health benefit from drinking matcha green tea is that it’s perfect for keeping by your side during your first date. Think of it as a natural breath mint or a pack of gum. Studies have shown that the ingredients in matcha have reduced halitosis (also known as extreme bad breath) significantly, whereas by drinking pure caffeine in coffee, your date will smell your stale coffee breath from the minute you step foot into that coffee shop.

Since the caffeine in coffee is known to raise stress levels, it’s possible that oxidative stress can occur if too much coffee is consumed. Oxidative stress is a disturbance in the body’s equilibrium, between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to naturally destroy those free radicals through antioxidants. Oxidative stress is highly concerning because it can eventually lead to diseases such as diabetes, or heart problems in the future. Matcha green tea contains an abundance of antioxidants, which distributes multiple health benefits.

Where Does Matcha Come From?

Matcha green tea dates back to the Tang Dynasty in Japan, and unlike standard bags of green tea, matcha comes in the form of a finely grounded green powder. The powder contains more antioxidants than a standard cup of green tea. This is due to the fact that if regular green tea leaves are simply brewed, the hot water destroys most of the antioxidants once it reaches the boiling point in the water. However, in matcha green tea, the green tea leaves are ground into that refined powder and stored in a room temperature place. Since people drink matcha, usually in the form of a cold latte, the antioxidants are kept in their original form, and more nutrients are consumed.

Along with antioxidants comes the catechins. Catechins are an extremely beneficial chemical compound found in matcha green tea. The most common catechin in matcha is EGCg, which has been found to speed up one’s metabolism and increase the chances of weight loss. EGCg sends a signal to your brain that after every cup of matcha, you feel as full as you would if you had a single meal. It prevents you from craving different foods when you’re bored and you believe that your body wants food. Along with weight loss, EGCg has also been found to reduce certain mutations in your body.

Drinking matcha a few hours before a workout can also help aid in weight loss. While the effects of caffeine in coffee only lasts for a short amount of time, the caffeine in matcha green tea will fuel your workout for hours, and beyond that, you’ll still have enough energy to go home and work on something productive, as opposed to crashing right after that long and tedious workout at the gym.

The Effects of Caffeine in Matcha

While a standard cup of coffee takes about 30 minutes to an hour for the caffeine effects to kick in, matcha takes more time for caffeine to kick in. During times when college students are required to pull all-nighters for upcoming exams, I recommend drinking the matcha around 9 p.m, as it will take around three or so hours for the effects to kick in, and the caffeine to begin working. Coffee would not be recommended over matcha in cases like the aforementioned, because coffee will only raise college students’ anxiety levels. Meanwhile, matcha green tea will both keep students alert and awake for a long period of time.

Matcha does contain caffeine and quite a lot of it. However, all the caffeine in the tea is natural and has been proven in studies to provide endless health benefits to anyone that’s willing to challenge themselves. Next time you want to order that venti iced coffee, do yourself a solid and compare the effects/health benefits between both drinks before you make your final decision.


Monica Ring
Monica Ring

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