So, we decided we need to take a closer look into this caffeine science thingy. Turns out that the majority of the articles compare matcha vs. coffee but not many offer an explanation on why the same molecule behaves so differently. It turns out the answer is quite simple – it’s all down to the relaxation amino-acid, L-theanine. Green tea products are rich in L-Theanine (and therefore Matcha contains L-Theanine) while coffee doesn’t contain any...
The amino acid L-Theanine makes your body process caffeine in a different manner that gives a state of calmness and alertness.
So what is L-theanine, and why do we care?
Again, L-theanine is a bunch of glutamate molecules bonded together. When we sip a cup of quality matcha, these glutmates rapidly enter our bloodstream in large quantities. They cross the blood-brain barrier very quickly, sometimes in seconds. What happens next is that these molecules stimulate the brains’s alpha waves, as measured by a test called an EEG test, which measures electrical activity in our brains (it’s amazing how much electricity our brains produce).
Presence of alpha waves indicates a state of alertness. They’re not found when we’re drowsy and nodding off. They’re only present when we feel alert and conscious. L-theanine triggers these waves. It’s why we feel focused and alert when we drink matcha! In contrast, we might feel alert when we drink coffee or take caffeine pills, but that alertness is often accompanied by unpleasant side effects, including jitteriness and even panic and paranoia, and is often followed by a “crash.” Jitteriness or crashes simply don’t happen with matcha.
There seems little doubt that matcha makes you more alert, more productive, better able to take on tasks like writing, coding, analysis . . . anything that requires heavy use of brainpower. All thanks to L-theanine. And when you add small amounts of caffeine to the mix (roughly 25 mg of caffeine per serving of matcha, compared to about 100mg for a cup of brewed coffee), it gets even more interesting: one study, published in the journal Biological Psychology, showed faster reaction time, faster numeric memory and improved accuracy.
We haven’t even scratched the surface of the data on the benefits of L-theanine and caffeine. More in future posts. But suffice it to say that it really does work: a cup of matcha just before work, before starting a project, before a speech, before just about any activity that requires focused brainpower, often results in significantly enhanced performance. With absolutely no downside.
Also have a look at the comparison below… it looks like matcha is a winner, but if you enjoy the aroma and taste of coffee don’t feel like you have to choose between the two – simply switch one of your daily cuppas to matcha and reap the benefits! There is room in our lives for coffee, tea and matcha, at different times of day and depending on our mood…Need to know more? Just ask us :-)
Nutrients Per Serving Matcha (1 gram) Coffee (4 grams)
Calories 2.76 cal 0 cal
Antioxidant capacity 1573 units 0 units
Caffeine 34 mg 60 mg
L-Theanine 16.84 mg 0 mg
Polyphenols (Tannins) 99 mg 250 mg
Catechins 134 mg 0 mg
Protein 274 mg 300 mg
Fiber 314 mg 0 mg
Iron 0.13 mg 0.3 mg
Calcium 3.23 mg 3 mg
Potassium 20.5 mg 97.5 mg
Vitamin C 1.85 mg 0 mg
Vitamin A 0.325 mg 0 mg