April 05, 2023
About 75 percent of American adults drink coffee every day, making it by far the most popular choice for people to get their daily caffeine fix. But matcha tea has grown in popularity in recent years, convincing many coffee drinkers to make the switch due to its energy-boosting capabilities. Both coffee and matcha can be beneficial to your health when they’re consumed in moderation. Which one is best for you mainly comes down to a matter of taste. Here are the basics on both.
Coffee comes from ground and roasted coffee beans, which actually are the seeds of a fruit called a coffee cherry. Coffee cherries grow on shrubs and trees belonging to a genus of plants called Coffea.
Matcha comes from Camellia sinensis, which is the evergreen shrub or small tree used to produce caffeinated teas. To enable it to produce matcha, the plant is shaded for about three weeks before its leaves are harvested. That boosts its amino acids and chlorophyll, and the extra chlorophyll gives it a bright green color.
To make matcha, tea leaves are treated with steam, dried, and ground into powder. The entire tea leaf is used, which gives matcha more antioxidants and caffeine than traditional green tea.
Both coffee and matcha can be used in many drinks and foods. For example, this Bon Appetit article has 46 ways you can use coffee in drinks, dessert, and main dishes!
Matcha is about as versatile as coffee. You can add it to ice water, soups, smoothies, cereal, ice cream, guacamole, and scrambled eggs or tofu (among other things). Additionally, you can use it to make noodles, energy balls, as an ingredient in baked goods, or as a topping on popcorn. You can even add matcha to coffee!
Almost all descriptions of matcha’s flavor call it grassy and/or earthy. Its other flavor qualities include nuttiness, sweetness, and bitterness.
Without additional ingredients, such as milk and sugar, coffee has two calories per serving while matcha has five. Coffee has no carbohydrates, sugar, or fiber; 0.3 grams of protein; and 0.5 grams of fat. Matcha has one gram each of protein and carbohydrates and no sugar, fiber, or fat.
Both coffee and matcha contain caffeine. How much depends primarily on the beans or leaves used to make them, and how strongly they’re made. The amount of caffeine in matcha also depends on the temperature of the water used to make it, and how long it’s brewed.
All that aside, coffee beans usually have 10 to 12 milligrams of caffeine per gram. As a result, an eight-ounce cup of coffee usually has about 100 milligrams of caffeine.
The caffeine content of matcha powder is much more variable, ranging from 19 to 44 milligrams per gram. Additionally, an eight-ounce matcha serving typically contains between one-half to one teaspoon, or two to four grams, of matcha powder. That means a matcha serving could contain anywhere from 38 to 176 milligrams of caffeine.
Caffeine’s most notable property is the energy boost it can provide. But it also may help reduce someone’s risk of stroke, heart disease, and some cancers, and aid in weight loss.
Still, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that adults consume no more than 400 milligrams of coffee per day. Among other things, it can make you jittery and cause you to become dependent on it.
After caffeine, the most notable ingredients in coffee and matcha are chlorogenic acid (CGA) and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). CGA is the major component of the polyphenols in coffee, while EGCG is the major component of the polyphenols in green tea.
The polyphenols in both coffee and matcha may help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attack. Additionally, both CGA and EGCG may promote weight loss and prevent tumor growth. EGCG also may lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. On the downside, consuming high levels of EGCG and other polyphenols in matcha may cause liver damage.
Matcha also contains an amino acid called L-theanine that can reduce stress by increasing alpha waves in your brain. In combination with EGCG and caffeine, it may make you feel less tired and more alert.
Both green tea and coffee have been associated with lower risk of fatty liver disease, liver cirrhosis and fibrosis.
The natural fats in coffee beans, however, can raise your cholesterol. Fortunately, you can avoid consuming them by using coffee filters.
Both coffee and matcha can give you the boost you get from caffeine. They also can provide other health benefits, with matcha appearing to provide more, although the science about it is less settled. So at the end of the day (or rather, at the beginning of the day), savor whichever beverage appeals to you most.