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Matcha vs Coffee | How Do They Compare?

a person taking a picture of matcha and coffee

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world and with good reason! It helps wake you up and focus your mind for maximum productivity. It's known for specific health benefits. Plus, as any devoted coffee drinker knows, it smells and tastes amazing.

But not everybody has the same level of tolerance for coffee. Coffee can produce some unpleasant side effects, including headaches, jitteriness, insomnia, dehydration, and so on. If you're looking for a good alternative that can reproduce coffee's energising benefits minus the side effects, matcha may be a good alternative. In this article, we compare the pros and cons of matcha vs coffee to help you decide which option's better for you!

Benefits of Matcha and How Coffee Compares

Matcha is powdered green tea leaves. So it’s not really a type of coffee, but a type of green tea. Here's what you need to know about its numerous health benefits and how they stack up against coffee.

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Health Benefits of Matcha

Matcha tea powder/tea is a rich source of antioxidants, substances that help to prevent or delay cell damage (such as what happens during illness, injury, or ageing). Consuming matcha could potentially work as a preventative against chronic diseases (think cancer!) or help reduce your risk of acquiring them.

Matcha tea has been linked to improved liver health, specifically in the case of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). About 1 in 3 Australians has fatty liver. Matcha is also seen to decrease the risk of contracting liver disease.

According to scientific research, matcha may be beneficial in improving your mood and boosting brain function. Matcha has an ingredient called L-theanine which helps relieve stress and anxiety, improves concentration, and aids in restful sleep. Matcha has also shown benefits in improving cognitive functions like your ability to be attentive, your memory, and how quickly you can react in response to stimuli.

Matcha is great for the skin too. It can help relieve the symptoms of irritated or inflamed acne-prone skin. It can help protect your skin from the cell damage caused by sun/UV exposure. It can also improve blood circulation, making your skin look healthier and refreshed.

Last but not least, matcha has shown some benefits in relation to reducing obesity. One specific study showed that taking up to 500mg of matcha in combination with a healthy diet and a regular exercise programme supported weight loss.

Health Benefits of Coffee

Coffee is known for containing a stimulant called caffeine, known for boosting the activities of your brain and nervous system. It's quickly absorbed, and you can find its effects kicking sometimes as fast as within 5 minutes of consuming it. Caffeine can help make you feel refreshed, alert, energised, and focused. It can also help reduce feelings of fatigue.

Drinking one cup of coffee daily has been shown to help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. There is also some research to suggest that it has neuroprotective effects in that it can help reduce the risk of conditions like cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.

A correlation has been found between caffeine consumption and the reduction of body fat, BMI, and weight reduction in specific studies. However, it's not a miracle cure, and it's most beneficial when consumed in combination with a healthy diet and exercise program.

Caffeine Content Comparison of Matcha vs Coffee

The caffeine amounts in substances like tea and coffee can vary depending on the processing method, the type, the strength of the brew, whether you’re diluting it with water or dairy, and so on.

  • Typically, a cup of matcha tea made from ½ to 1 tsp of matcha powder will contain about 38-176mg of caffeine. Since matcha tea is made from ground tea leaves which you mix into your tea as opposed to strain out, you can expect it to be a concentrated source of caffeine.
  • One cup of brewed black coffee contains, on average, approximately 70–140 mg of caffeine.

In general, matcha tea contains less caffeine than coffee.

What About the Side Effects of Coffee and Matcha?

The side effects of coffee can be related to the levels of caffeine present in it. 400mg of caffeine is the maximum intake of caffeine that’s acceptable per day for adults. If you’ve had too much caffeine, you can experience side effects such as:

  • Palpitations (rapid heartbeats)
  • Restlessness
  • Increase in body temperature
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Jitteriness
  • Sleeplessness or insomnia
  • An initial bout of feeling energized followed by a spell of greater tiredness

If you're sensitive to caffeine, you may experience side effects even at low doses. It's best to avoid caffeine altogether if this is the case.

NOTE: Pregnant women should consume no more than 200mg of caffeine per day or, ideally, avoid it altogether. A high intake of caffeine is linked to an increased risk of miscarriages and birth anomalies.

Matcha is powdered green tea powder and hence still contains caffeine, although not to the degree of caffeine found in coffee. Expect similar side effects to excessive coffee consumption if you drink too much coffee. Generally, it’s advisable to use matcha sparingly. Consume no more than 4g or 2 level teaspoons of matcha per day.

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Matcha vs. Coffee - General Instructions On Preparation and How They Differ

a cup of matcha and coffee beside each other and a wooden spoon

Matcha Tea Preparation

To prepare a good cup of matcha tea, use hot and not boiling water. Aim for about 80°C. You can use traditional matcha implements for the tea, but if you don’t have them, a good old-fashioned sieve and teaspoon will do.

Take about 1/4th to 1 tsp of matcha tea powder. Sieve it into your cup. Pour about 2 tbsp of the prepared hot water and use a whisk to mix and remove clumps. Alternatively, simply use a teaspoon to mix. Once the powder has been fully absorbed and your base mixture starts to froth, you can pour the rest of your hot water to fill the cup. Your matcha tea is now ready to drink.

Coffee Preparation

Unlike with matcha, where you use hot water, coffee is best made with boiling water. Simply mix about 2 tbsp of coffee powder with a little bit of the boiling water in your mug. Add sugar for sweetness if preferred. Fill to the brim and mix with boiling water. Instead of water, you can opt for milk if you enjoy dairy in your coffee.

Both matcha and coffee can be enjoyed cold too.

Should I Drink Matcha Instead of Coffee?

Whether you should drink matcha vs coffee depends on your taste preferences, budget, and your tolerance for caffeine. Both have caffeine, although the caffeine present in matcha per serving is lower than that found in coffee.

Matcha is a good option to try if you’re trying to wean yourself off of coffee, want the same benefits, such as improved mood, attention, and focus, but don’t want the kind of side effects you may experience with coffee.

Bear in mind some people are sensitive to caffeine generally, even in small doses. If this is you, you may want to avoid caffeinated drinks and beverages altogether.

Good quality matcha can be more expensive compared to coffee. You also have to ensure you’re not exceeding the recommended doses (discussed earlier in this article) to avoid liver toxicity. Sourcing quality matcha is critical to also avoid the risk of contaminants like heavy metals that may be present in the tea powder.

Coffee is easily available and has been associated with health benefits like a decreased incidence of Type II Diabetes, among others. At the same time, it’s easy to develop a dependence on it.

In terms of taste, coffee is enjoyed by most people. Matcha, on the other hand, has a very distinctive taste, although it’s not unpleasant. It can taste bitter, nutty, and sweet all at once. At the end of the day, it is a tea variant, and coffee lovers may need some acclimatizing to the flavour.

Last but not least, while coffee can give you an instant boost (anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes), matcha is more of a slow burn - another fact worth considering when you're deciding between the two.

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Conclusion

Coffee is a universal crowd favourite. It’s not costly, and it’s readily available. But not everybody can tolerate the amount of caffeine that’s present in coffee without experiencing side effects like headaches, anxiety, palpitations, insomnia, and so on. If this is you, matcha may be a better alternative, worth experimenting with. You’ll get a similar range of benefits like increased alertness, focus, and concentration minus major side effects.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Do matcha and coffee go together?

Matcha and coffee can be used together to create unique and delicious drinks! For example, you can combine matcha powder with coffee and a little bit of milk to make a matcha latte with a hint of coffee flavour. However, it is important to note that overconsumption of caffeine can lead to side effects like jitters and anxiety. Therefore, it is recommended to consume no more than 2 to 3 cups of caffeinated beverages per day and to consult with a healthcare professional if necessary.

Q2. Which is healthier coffee or matcha?

Matcha is considered to be healthier than coffee due to its rich source of antioxidants and amino acids. Matcha also provides a natural energy boost but with a gentler effect on the body compared to coffee. On average, caffeine in matcha is about half that of coffee, which means that a person can theoretically drink more matcha than coffee. Additionally, matcha has been known to help reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases and high blood pressure.

Q3. Why drink matcha vs coffee?

Matcha is preferred by some people over coffee because it gives you the same benefits, such as increased alertness, concentration, and improved mood minus the major side effects such as headaches, palpitations, insomnia, anxiety, and so on. But, if you're sensitive to caffeine in even small doses, you may want to avoid caffeinated beverages and drinks altogether.

Q4. Is matcha better for weight loss than coffee?

Early research suggests that green tea like matcha may have benefits in fat-burning and weight loss. Coffee, primarily because of its caffeine content has also shown benefits in burning the bad fats and promoting the good fats. In either case, they’re both not stand-alone solutions for weight loss. Long-term healthy weight loss is a result of good dietary hygiene and maintaining a regular exercise program.

Q5. Is matcha better than coffee on an empty stomach?

Some people may experience digestive upset or heart burns when drinking either on an empty stomach. Others may find that the caffeine is better absorbed on an empty stomach resulting in stronger effects on your mental alertness and moods, and potentially jitteriness as a side effect.

Q6. Is matcha better than coffee for anxiety?

You may find matcha more useful for your anxiety than coffee. Matcha has a compound called L-theanine that can help calm you while improving your alertness. It also doesn’t typically have the same side effects that coffee does because of the lower amounts of caffeine per serving. Last but not least, it doesn’t give you an instantaneous boost like coffee but works at a gentler and steadier pace.

Darcy Ogdon-Nolan

Holding a Bachelor Of Science (Hons.) combined with close to a decade now in the health food and wellness industry, I believe I'm uniquely positioned to provide a depth of knowledge and first-hand experience on emerging health products, trends and ideas! From greens powders and medicinal mushrooms through to protein powders and workout nutrition - I'm particularly interested in what modern science can uncover about what human cultures have been using to treat ailments for millennia!

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