Whether you’re a long-time green tea fan or you simply can no longer avoid the hype—it’s understandable to be curious about the benefits of matcha tea, a tea variety that comes from the same leaves as green, white, oolong, and black (Camellia sinensis), explains Nadia De La Vega, director of tea sustainability and content at DAVIDsTEA, but is made by finely grinding the leaves into a powder.
As it turns out, the frothy green drink does offer some significant perks. “Matcha contains many beneficial compounds that can offer health-boosting effects,” says Sarah Olszewski, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N., nutrition advisor for Cure. Keep reading to learn more about matcha benefits, how the drink differs from conventional green tea, and tips for preparing the perfect cup.
Put simply, matcha boasts all the benefits of regular loose leaf green tea and then some. Why? “Because it’s a powdered tea, you’re actually ingesting all the benefits of the full leaf,” explains De La Vega. Here’s a more specific breakdown of its pros.
It’s antioxidant-rich and could help prevent chronic disease
“Matcha is packed with catechins, a type of antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, thus possibly reducing risk of cancer,” explains Olszewski. More specifically, Mia Syn, M.S., R.D.N., author of Mostly Plant-Based adds that matcha contains the catechinn epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is a particularly powerful antioxidant that helps protect the body’s cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. “Oxidative stress and damage have been linked to various health issues, including aging, certain chronic diseases, and cancer,” she reiterates.
It may support balanced cholesterol and heart health
Matcha has also been linked to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and higher “good” levels of HDL cholesterol, explains Olszewski, which could potentially reduce the risk of heart disease.
It could support liver function
Matcha contains chlorophyll, a pigment that’s responsible for its vibrant green color and is known for its detoxifying properties, explains Olszewski. Chlorophyll helps flush out toxins and heavy metals from the body, she adds, “which can assist in maintaining healthy liver function.” More research needs to be done to confirm this, but one study conducted on a population of 180 Chinese adults found it to reduce certain toxin biomarkers by 55% compared to placebo.
It may improve insulin sensitivity
“Some studies suggest that matcha may improve insulin sensitivity, helping to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes,” says Syn. Impaired insulin sensitivity or insulin resistance is a condition commonly associated with diabetes in which the body builds up a tolerance to insulin, a hormone that helps the body break down glucose, making insulin less effective and therefore increasing risk for blood sugar-related health complications.
It provides a crash-free boost of caffeine
“The caffeine content of matcha is higher than regular green tea, but lower than coffee, providing a gentle, sustained energy boost without the jitters and crash often associated with coffee,” explains Olszewski.
It could improve focus
Matcha also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation and alertness, explains Olszewski. “When combined with the natural caffeine in matcha, L-theanine provides a balanced, calm focus, which can improve cognitive function and concentration,” she adds. Studies have corroborated this—a 2021 one published in Nutrients found it to improve attention and executive function in a group of 51 older adults.
It’s been studied as a metabolism booster
Some studies suggest that the catechins, particularly EGCG, in matcha may aid in weight management by boosting metabolism and fat oxidation, explains Olszewski. The caffeine in matcha may also help increase thermogenesis, resulting in a slight boost to your metabolic rate, potentially aiding in weight management, adds Syn. The caffeine in matcha can also provide an energy boost, which may improve exercise performance.
Is matcha good for weight loss?
For all the reasons listed above, when prepared traditionally without added sweeteners, matcha is a low-calorie drink option that can be helpful for weight management, says Olszewski. “Some studies have suggested that green tea, including matcha, may have an impact on appetite regulation, leading to reduced calorie intake,” adds Syn.
Matcha vs. green tea
“Each tea type comes from the same plant called Camellia sinensis,” explains De La Vega. “Through different processing methods we get different tea varieties. Matcha powder is made from finely ground green tea leaves that have undergone specific growing and processing techniques.”
Olszewski adds: “Green tea generally has a much lighter flavor, while the flavor of matcha is richer and more distinct.”
How often should you drink matcha?
The Food and Drug Administration recommends a maximum of 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day, and 1 cup of matcha has around 20 to 37 mg of caffeine, explains De La Vega. So, there should be very little concern about reaching that daily limit with the drink. For reference, a cup of coffee contains roughly 95 to 100 mg of caffeine, per the United States Department of Agriculture.
“As a general guideline, most people can safely consume one to two servings of matcha per day,” adds Olszewski. “However, keep in mind that individual tolerance to caffeine and personal health considerations should always be taken into account.”
How to prepare matcha tea
To properly prepare matcha, you need the right tools: the tea itself, a matcha spoon, and a bamboo whisk. Then it’s as simple as measuring out three to five half-teaspoons of powder depending on how strong you like it, adding warm water, and whisking the two together.
Directions for matcha tea preparation, per De La Vega:
- Using a matcha spoon (half-teaspoon), scoop three to five spoonfuls of matcha powder into a shallow bowl for whisking
- Add 4 ounces of warm water (170°F) and whisk until foamy, using a swift horizontal, back-and-forth motion
- Pour matcha into a 16-ounce mug and add hot water or milk, if desired
There are plenty of powders on the market, but our experts have a few favorites. Shop their matcha picks below and enjoy.
Kayla Blanton is a freelance writer who reports on all things health and nutrition for Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and Prevention. Her hobbies include perpetual coffee sipping and pretending to be a Chopped contestant while cooking.