Matcha vs Coffee: Can Matcha Give You the Same Energy Boost?
How does matcha compare vs coffee? We dive into the caffeine content, energy, benefits and side effects below!
Coffee and matcha are two of nature’s best creations. And no - that isn’t even exaggerating. Coffee - a drink that needs no introduction - is the most popular choice for those of us looking for an energy boost, but is it the best?
Matcha doesn’t have the same popularity, at least not in the West. But in Japan, it’s been consumed for over 800 years by Zen Buddhist monks and Samurai warriors for its ability to put you in a zen-like state, keeping you energised and relaxed at the same time.
It is much stronger than regular green tea, which is why many people are using it as an effective coffee replacement.
What is matcha, though? In a nutshell, it’s stone-ground, whole green tea leaves grown under special conditions to increase taste, colour and nutritional value. It’s tastier and more beneficial than regular green tea.
Because you consume the entire leaf, 1 cup of matcha gives you the same nutrients as 10 cups of green tea!
What does the research say about matcha and coffee?
There has been so much research into the effects of coffee and matcha and one thing is clear - they are both a great source of natural energy.
Research into coffee suggests that it can offer some protection against:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Liver disease, including liver cancer
- Heart attacks and stroke
Research into matcha suggests:
- It may help to regulate anxiety thanks to its high L-Theanine content. Matcha has been referred to as ‘Nature’s Xanax’
- Matcha is high in catechins which can help with lowering cholesterol and weight management.
- The incredibly high antioxidant count in matcha helps keep your cells healthy, meaning they can better defend against free radicals and even cancerous cells
The studies show some promising benefits of both coffee and matcha, but research rarely takes into account a person’s individual lifestyle, which is one of the most important factors. If you eat pizza and ice cream every day (our dream Sunday) that’ll outweigh the benefits of any drink!
Let’s talk caffeine - how do they compare?
If we look only at the amount of caffeine in matcha and coffee, matcha contains up to 70mg of caffeine per cup (8 fl. oz), whereas a cup of coffee of the same size contains approx 96mg of caffeine.
Of course there are variables such as how strong you like your matcha or coffee, and what coffee beans or matcha you use. Generally, though, matcha has 30-50% less caffeine than a cup of coffee.
Based on caffeine content alone, you might think coffee is the clear winner. But there are big differences in how your body absorbs the caffeine in matcha and coffee.
The biggest difference between coffee and matcha is how your body absorbs the caffeine.
Source: ENSŌ Matcha
Coffee is absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly, giving you a sudden spike of energy. That’s why you’ll often experience a racing heartbeat and jitters, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine.
This, for many people, is one of the main downsides of coffee and the main reason they look for a replacement.
Matcha is high in phytonutrients, like L-Theanine, which helps your body absorb the caffeine much more slowly. The result is a noticeable increase in energy, without that 'on edge' feeling.
Drink matcha for longer-lasting energy with no crash.
There’s no such thing as one coffee, is there? Think about it – how many people do you know that start the day with a coffee, grab another at 11am, and another at 3pm?
That’s because their energy levels are crashing hard just a few hours after each cup, and they have to drink another cup for another boost.
Because caffeine in matcha is absorbed by your body more slowly, the energy lasts for longer. You get 4-5 hours of zen-like energy, relaxing your brain while keeping you focused and alert. Best of all, no crash afterwards.
I find that when I start the day with a matcha instead of a coffee, I feel more energised and consume less caffeine overall that day. Don't get me wrong, I love coffee. It's just a little too much to handle as my first drink of the day, and the energy crash isn't always worth it.
Side effects of too much caffeine
Because the crash post-coffee usually has us reaching for another cup, the amount of caffeine you consume in a day can begin to have side effects.
- Upset stomach
- Increased heart rate
- Jitters and anxiety
- Feelings of nausea
- Insomnia and poor sleep quality
Unlike coffee, though, matcha contains L-Theanine. The L-Theanine not only slows the absorption of caffeine, it helps alleviate anxiety and stress, promote relaxation, increase focus and improve your mood.
On a side note, you’ll see L-theanine mentioned a lot on this blog and with good reason. It’s responsible for many of matcha’s health benefits, and one of the reasons why matcha doesn’t give you the same harsh side effects as coffee.
Matcha is still a caffeinated drink, so it’s possible to consume too much of it. 1-2 cups is more than enough to keep you focused, energised and relaxed throughout the day.
Oh, and coffee breath. Isn’t it the worst?
If you’ve ever been around someone who doesn’t like coffee, after your second cup, you may have seen them recoil in horror when you talk to them. That happens because you have coffee breath, which can be pretty unpleasant even if you do like coffee.
...And let’s not forget that drinking coffee isn’t great for those pearly whites, it stains your teeth.
Matcha contains catechins that help your mouth stay clean and healthy, so you won’t have lingering aftertastes, stains, or bad breath.
The winner - matcha!
Source: ENSŌ Matcha
While both drinks are great sources of natural energy, that’s where the similarities end. When you drink matcha, your body absorbs the caffeine in a way that causes no harsh side effects.
The calm alertness and gentle energy boost from matcha might be a better way to start your day than the caffeine spike you get from coffee.
If you're interested in incorporating matcha into your day, why not learn a little more about the amazing health benefits?
What are your experiences of switching coffee for matcha? Did you notice a difference in how you feel? Let us know!