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Is Matcha Effective for Stress Relief?

cup of matcha, powder, and whisk on table

If you’re looking for stress relief but want a natural stress reduction technique to help ease your mental burden, look no further than matcha green tea. You might be wondering, isn’t there caffeine in green tea? That is true, but particularly with matcha, the science might surprise you.


A careful balance of the amino acids in matcha tea has demonstrated it to be one of the few true stress reduction foods. So if you’re in your 20s, 40s, or even your 80s, matcha has been shown to help reduce overall stress, and it could help you, too.

Matcha’s Chemical Properties

The key ingredients to these stress-reducing herbs are in a delicate balance, starting with how the plant is grown. Theanine is a major amino acid in green tea that has been shown to help with stress reduction. This naturally occurring amino acid is generated in the plant by absorbing nitrogen from its soil. The chemical theanine is made more effective by the presence of arginine, the second most common amino acid.

While the presence of these amino acids helps reduce stress, they are at odds with the other naturally occurring chemicals in the plant. For instance, the caffeine in the tea acts against the stress relief that theanine provides, so the best matcha for stress relief is also low in caffeine.

Growers use certain growing techniques to make higher-quality matcha than typical tea leaves. For example, matcha is often grown in the shade, safe from sunlight, and the plant does not generate as much catechin from the amino acids present.

This means the whole amino acid profile is maintained instead of being converted into catechin, which makes up most of the taste of matcha tea. The balance of the three components, theanine, caffeine, and catechin, determines the overall quality of green tea.

Research

Studies have shown that theanine exhibits stress-reducing effects [1], but proving the link between the chemical profile of the amino acids and their impact is still in research. However, scientific studies with mice have concluded that tea with high concentrations of theanine and arginine ultimately reduced the side effects of stress.

When researchers did the same testing on humans, people were given matcha tea once a day and no other caffeinated food or beverages. The study’s participants were asked to rank their physical condition, stress, and emotional state while drinking a standard dosage of matcha. Compared with a control group, the people who drank matcha tea were less stressed overall.

Drinking Matcha to Reduce Stress

During testing, researchers had participants drink an average cup of three grams of matcha in 500 mL of water. Verifying a plant's actual amino acid content is challenging, so certain batches or tea brands can have different effects. Caffeine levels can counteract some of the matcha’s stress relief benefits. Researchers concluded that when a person drinks matcha with theanine levels greater than 17 mg/g, it may alleviate and reduce stress.

When you’re looking at buying tea, there are a few things to consider. First, as green tea and matcha are Asian and Japanese products, researchers surveyed Japanese versus foreign matcha to test the chemical makeup of the tea products.

When sampling the Japanese matcha, 50 out of 76 products met the threshold of more than 17 mg/g for stress relief benefits. Contrary to Japanese products, foreign matcha was much less likely to carry this chemical indicator of stress relief. Out of 67 tea products sold from foreign vendors, only six tea samples would be considered stress relieving. This is one of the core reasons why Superfood Science only sells 100% Japanese Matcha tea - it has the greatest potency of green teas.

Although a high enough theanine content will produce a stress-relieving effect, that isn’t enough to ensure that the tea will be stress-relieving. If the tea is high enough in caffeine, the effects of theanine will be negated, even if it has a high theanine level. The opposite is also true, however; if there is sufficient theanine in a particular batch of matcha, it can have the power to counteract the caffeine. This delicate balance of amino acids and chemicals creates a spectrum of potential tea effects.

Because of the variety of amino acids in matcha, it’s important to find a balanced tea that works for you. For example, if you have tea leaves but want to reduce the caffeine content, you can try washing them with hot water at 95 °C for a few minutes before using them to brew the matcha. This will wash out the caffeine, but leave the beneficial amino acids that help to reduce stress.

Benefits

Matcha can be totally different from plant to plant. Every factor, from sunlight to soil content, has a major role to play in the effects of the tea, and if you’re looking for stress relief, you have to make sure you find the right brand. However, one thing is true; Japanese products usually feature the essential amino acids that help to reduce stress, so those products are a great place to begin. Superfood Science’s Organic Japanese Ceremonial Grade Matcha Tea Powder is designed to help you relieve stress.

Many people who drink green tea can attest to tea blends' simultaneously calming and stimulating effects. Sometimes one cup will wake you up, while another might make you sleepy. So if you’re stressed and looking for a simple solution, why not try drinking matcha?

Demystifying matcha tea types is the first step. Once you find a product that works for you, you’ll finally have a natural, century-old remedy that you can rely on to help you unwind. You’ll be amazed how stress management with matcha tea can improve your mood, your evening, or even your quality of life.

But please don’t forget - based on peer-reviewed studies, Japanese Matcha is significantly more potent in providing these stress relieving effects. This means that purchasing your matcha tea from a verified brand like Superfood Science is important. In doing so, you can help yourself reduce stress and improve your mood - all because you chose to drink matcha tea. So, go ahead and order our Organic Japanese Ceremonial Grade Matcha Tea Powder, and try it out yourself!

References:

[1] Unno, K., Furushima, D., Hamamoto, S., Iguchi, K., Yamada, H., Morita, A., Horie, H., & Nakamura, Y. (2018). Stress-Reducing Function of Matcha Green Tea in Animal Experiments and Clinical Trials. Nutrients10(10), 1468. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10101468