Matcha has become very popular over the years because of several proven health benefits. Matcha, incidentally, is a finely-powdered form of green tea, which means you're ingesting the leaves when you prepare your tea. By ingesting the leaves, you get the benefits of having more antioxidants than what you get from traditional green tea.
While most people are generally sold on the benefits of matcha, not everyone is as excited about consuming the caffeine that comes along with it. In this article, we cover whether there is such a thing as decaf matcha and what you need to know about it.
What Exactly Is Decaf Matcha?
Decaf matcha is a regular matcha that has had its caffeine removed during processing. It's a bit of a misnomer because decaf doesn't necessarily mean the absence of caffeine. It just means that, typically, there's a lot less caffeine.
With decaf coffee, for example, decaffeination will remove up to 97% of the caffeine present in the coffee beans. One cup of decaf coffee has approximately 2 mg of caffeine compared to regular coffee, which has about 95 mg of caffeine.
Decaf green tea is fairly common. Decaf matcha, on the other hand, is not so much. A brand called DoMatcha claims to be the first decaf matcha producer outside of Japan. Their decaf matcha tea serves up 6 mg of caffeine per gm. You could, alternatively, look for the more common low-caffeine matcha.
A typical serving of matcha, for reference, is usually between 2 to 4 mg or ½ to 1 tsp. Regular matcha contains about 19-44 mg of caffeine per gram. The caffeine in regular green tea can vary from 10-23 mg of caffeine per gram. Also, in general, the longer you brew your tea, the higher the caffeine.
How Do They Remove the Caffeine from Matcha?
Scientists in a recent study examining the health benefits of decaf matcha referred to the traditional process of making decaf matcha as follows:
- Specific green tea leaves were harvested after cultivation in an environment without sunlight for many weeks in May (the first tea of the year).
- These were then steamed and dried to obtain tencha.
- The tencha green tea leaves were washed with hot water to remove caffeine. Tencha is what the tea leaves used for matcha are called before they're ground down.
- This was followed by the removal of leaf veins and grinding to produce matcha green tea powder.
Does Decaf Matcha Have the Same Health Benefits?
Green tea offers many health benefits due to its rich antioxidant and polyphenol content. Yet, those same healthful compounds can be depleted when the tea is processed for decaffeination—usually through chemical means.
Fortunately, natural decaffeination techniques (usually done with water) can remove a majority of the caffeine without stripping away the beneficial components.
If you're looking to enjoy all the goodness of green tea with minimal caffeine, opt for naturally decaffeinated products.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is matcha the same as green tea?
Matcha and green tea both come from the same plant called Camellia sinensis. But the similarity stops there. Green tea is seeped in hot water and removed once the required intensity or color is reached.
Matcha, on the other hand, is finely powdered green tea, which you directly mix into your hot water. Matcha has higher concentrations of caffeine and antioxidants, given that you'll be ingesting the leaves with your drink. You can also brew matcha at lower temperatures, which is thought to limit the amount of caffeine you're consuming.
Does all matcha have caffeine?
Matcha is a powdered form of green tea and contains caffeine, like all teas. But matcha can have higher amounts of caffeine because you're mixing the powder into hot water or making an infusion of it. With green tea, you're only soaking the leaves and not consuming them as you do with matcha.
Matcha provides about 19-44 mg of caffeine per gram, while green tea (depending on the variety) can have anywhere from 10 to 23 mg of caffeine per gram. The longer you infuse the tea leaves, the higher the amount of caffeine you'll be taking in.
Does matcha have less caffeine than decaf coffee?
Matcha tea has significantly less caffeine than coffee, with an average of 19-44 mg per 8-ounce cup compared to 96 mg in a similar size of coffee. Decaf coffee and matcha both contain low levels of caffeine, with matcha containing around 97% less than conventional coffee.
Is there decaf matcha at Starbucks?
A lot of people have asked the same question. We've gone ahead and done the research, so you don't have to! The Starbucks Coffee Company in Australia has four variants of matcha-based beverages – Espresso and Matcha Fusion, Ice Espresso and Matcha Fusion, Iced Matcha Green Tea Latte, and Matcha Green Tea Frappuccino. All of them have caffeine present, and the quantity can vary depending on the size of the beverage you're drinking. So there isn't a decaf variant on the menu yet!
Refer to the full beverage menu with complete nutritional content, including the amount of caffeine, here. Check back to the official company website for the latest beverage menus!
How do they decaffeinate matcha?'
Traditional methods involve harvesting and cultivating in a specific manner (without sunlight for several weeks), steaming, and washing the caffeine out of the leaves using hot water. Scroll up to read more about how this is done in the "How Do They Remove the Caffeine from Matcha? " section.
Is decaf green tea less healthy?
It depends on how the tea is processed. Natural methods of processing, unlike chemical methods, can leave most of the valuable nutrients intact, which means you still get the health benefits with much smaller amounts of caffeine. Chemical processing can strip the tea of most of its nutrients, leaving you with minimal benefits from a health perspective.
Why can I drink matcha but not coffee?
Matcha and coffee both have pros and cons. So one isn't necessarily better than the other. Matcha can help you feel more relaxed and improve your oral health. But it can cost more than coffee. Consuming high amounts of matcha may lead to liver toxicity. There's also the risk of heavy metal contamination depending on the quality of matcha you're using.
Coffee has been shown to lower the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. It's also not as costly as matcha and is also more readily available in comparison. But you can become dependent on coffee, and it can also cause other unpleasant side effects such as headaches, anxiety, increased heartbeat, or insomnia while drinking it or going through withdrawal.
Opt for low-caffeine matcha if you're not able to source high-quality decaf matcha where you live. If you'd like to buy some high-quality matcha to do your own brewing, check out our list of top recommendations for matcha powder in Australia for teas and lattes.
Decaf doesn't necessarily mean the tea's free from caffeine. It just means that the tea has much of the caffeine removed and can still have small amounts present.
Ensure that the matcha has been decaffeinated by natural methods so that you still benefit from drinking the tea. Chemically-treated matcha offers little to no value.