Does matcha have any harmful effects?
Matcha tea is becoming increasingly popular in cafés around the world. Matcha or any green tea in general, in powder or leaf form, is widely believed to have extensive health benefits. But does Matcha and Green Tea have any side effects? In general, moderate consumption (1-2 cups a day) is not known to have any side effects and in fact if combined with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle are key to good health and well being. We explore some of potential side effects that matcha tea if consumed in large quantities:
Matcha may make you feel jittery or anxious
Matcha contains high concentration of caffeine. The amount of caffeine in matcha is at least twice of that in green tea and even more than coffee per gram. However, a standard 240 ml (1 cup) of matcha tea uses 2g of good quality matcha powder, while a standard espresso single shot can have 7-9g of coffee. Hence net caffeine intake from 1 cup of matcha is effectively less than coffee, but nevertheless higher than green tea, So, if you are sensitive to caffeine, it is best to avoid Matcha or drink in small quantities first (1-2g once or twice a day). Caffeine may cause anxiety or even cardiac arrhythmia in some people.
It should also be noted that some studies have shown that caffeine in matcha causes less anxiousness than caffeine in coffee, because matcha also has an amino acid called l-theanine, which has a calming effect and hence neutralises the effect of caffeine. However, caution is recommended if trying matcha for the first time.
[Source: National Centre of Biotechnology Information Research Paper, Jan 2021: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7796401/]
Matcha may cause stomach discomfort
In addition to caffeine, matcha powder also has fibre. These contents have laxative effects and may cause stomach discomfort or even diarrhea. Compared to green tea, matcha is dissolved in water or milk and consumed as a whole. So, the amount of caffeine and fibre consumed from matcha is higher than green tea. Matcha tea is typically made with small quantities of matcha powder, usually 2g (1/2 teaspoon) per cup. It is recommended to keep the intake per serving small.
Matcha may cause insomnia
Just like coffee, caffeine in matcha may disrupt sleeping patterns and may make it difficult to fall asleep if consumed in larger quantities. This may happen if the matcha is taken 6-8 times as day, which will be considered excessive consumption. Limit your consumption to 1-2 cups a day and reap the positive effects of matcha, including a feeling of calmness and alertness due to the presence of both l-theanine and caffeine.
Excessive consumption of matcha may cause iron deficiency
According to some studies, excessive consumption of green tea may interfere with iron absorption in the body leading to iron deficiency or anaemia. We are really talking about very large quantities of consumption daily. Catechins present in green tea and matcha are known to bind with iron molecules and inhibit absorption of iron in the body. Because matcha has higher concentration of polyphenols like catechins, large quantities of matcha consumption may reduce iron absorption. Hence matcha should be consumed in moderate amounts as part of daily healthy diet.
Poor quality matcha may cause exposure to contaminants
Matcha is consumed wholly as a powder dissolved in liquid (water, milk) and hence if poor quality Matcha is consumed, it may contain harmful substances, pesticides, or chemicals due to substandard cultivation practices. It is always prudent to consume premium quality matcha. Organic and HACCP certified matcha does not use chemical fertilisers and pesticides and has been tested for hazardous materials. Pinnacle Matcha products are organic and all natural. . This risk also exists for any tea or coffee consumption.
Matcha and Pregnancy
Pregnant or breast-feeding mothers are generally advised to limit caffeine intake. As already mentioned, matcha contains high concentration of caffeine. In addition to this, if matcha tea or green teas do reduce the absorption of iron (which some studies have shown although not fully confimed), then it advisable for pregnant females to limit its consumption. There is generally no evidence that 1-2 standards servings have any such side effects. Hence only smaller quantities is recommended. In addition to the above considerations, if you are on some medications or supplements, it is best to seek professional medical advice before starting or varying consumption of matcha.
There are enough studies that suggest that 1-2 servings of matcha tea or green tea a day do not have any aide effects and are in fact very beneficial to physical and mental health and well being. Matcha can certainly be considered part of a healthy diet if taken in moderation.