Over the past few years, matcha has become such a popular drink that you’ll find it offered at almost any coffee shop across the country. And unlike most food trends, matcha has maintained its cult wellness status—which means it’s time to get to know exactly what matcha powder is and its good-for-you benefits.
Matcha is part of the green-tea family, but it’s a unique member. Unlike traditional forms of green tea, where you steep tea leaves in water to create the drink, matcha is the powder made from the actual tea leaves, just ground up. Because of this, when you consume matcha, you’re getting a higher concentration of the leaves’ nutrients. Translation: more benefits. These are some of the matcha benefits that might convince you to stock up on the grassy-tasting tea:
1. It’s loaded with antioxidants.
Green tea contains a type of antioxidants called catechins, as well as another group, polyphenols. “Matcha powder offers a megadose of these powerful antioxidants, which can help reduce cell damage and prevent chronic disease,” says nutritionist Jenna Gorham, RD, founder of Jenna Gorham Nutrition Consulting in Bozeman, Montana.
2. You’ll get more energy than you would from other teas.
Matcha powder has about three times the amount of caffeine as alternative types of brewed teas, says Gorham. That’s about the same energy benefit—or slightly less than—a cup of coffee (different coffees have different levels of caffeine).
3. You won’t feel as jittery as you might from a cup of joe.
“Matcha powder contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to reduce stress,” Gorham says. One 2016 study found that drinking a beverage rich in L-theanine can be extremely effective for those with high anxiety. “People say that when they drink matcha, they have a smooth alertness and don’t experience a ‘caffeine crash,’ which could have to do with the L-theanine component,” Gorham adds.