Matcha Health Benefits and Side Effects

Matcha tea in Japanese tea cup
Is Matcha Better Than Green Tea?. UFO/Getty Images

A favorite among many tea connoisseurs, matcha is a type of green tea that comes in powdered form. It is made from Camellia sinensis (the same species of plant used to make green tea, black teaoolong tea, and white tea). 

In cultivating matcha, the plants are shade-grown for several weeks prior to harvest. After harvesting the plants, processors steam, dry, and then grind the leaves (stems and veins removed) into a fine powder.

The tea is prepared by whisking the vibrant green powder in a bowl with hot water until it is thoroughly mixed and frothy. With regular green tea, the leaves are whole or in bigger pieces and are strained out.

Besides drinking matcha tea, the powder is sometimes added as an ingredient in food, such as noodles, baked goods, and dessert, and in beverages.

Why Do People Drink Matcha?

As one of the few teas that contain the whole leaf, some proponents claim that matcha boasts more antioxidants than other tea varieties. In addition, matcha is purported to promote weight loss, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, support detox efforts, enhance mood, reduce stress, increase energy, keep blood sugar in check, and stimulate the immune system.

Does Matcha Really Have Health Benefits?

Although there is a great deal of scientific evidence for the health benefits of green tea, very few studies have specifically focused on matcha.

The available research on matcha includes a preliminary study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2009. In tests on rats with type 2 diabetes, researchers found that treating the animals with matcha led to decreased levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, and harmful blood fats. What's more, matcha appeared to protect the rats from liver and kidney damage.

According to the study's authors, matcha may contain higher amounts of epigallocatechin 3-O-gallate (a potent antioxidant) than other forms of green tea.

Although research on the specific health benefits of matcha is limited, some studies suggest that regular consumption of green tea, in general, may help protect against certain health conditions. For instance, green tea appears to prevent age-related cognitive impairment, reduce the risk of stroke and diabetes, keep blood pressure in check, and strengthen bones.​

Additionally, there's some evidence that green tea may help prevent several forms of cancer, including prostate, lung, pancreatic, and colorectal.

Possible Side Effects

Although matcha is generally considered safe when consumed in small amounts as a beverage, just don't go overboard. Due to the caffeine content, green tea may trigger certain side effects (such as headacheinsomnia, irritability, diarrhea, and heartburn) when consumed in excess. The National Institutes of Health warn that green tea may cause stomach upset and constipation in some people.

Matcha may also contain fluoride and lead—the content can vary depending on where it was grown. While the NIH cautions against consuming more than five cups of green tea daily, that number should be closer to one cup a day for matcha because the powdered leaves are consumed.

Children and pregnant or nursing women should avoid it.

If you're considering the use of matcha for a health condition, make sure to consult your physician first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

The Takeaway

There's no doubt that matcha can be tasty in tea, smoothies, matcha lattes, or when used in cooking. But because it's concentrated, it's wise to watch your consumption and not go overboard.

While it's possible that drinking any form of green tea may enhance your overall health, we can't be as solid about matcha since there's a lack of clinical trials (the kind of research you'd want to see to put full stock in a treatment).

 If you prefer the taste of regular green tea, there's no reason to switch right now.


Boehm K, Borrelli F, Ernst E, et al. Green tea (Camellia sinensis) for the prevention of cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jul 8;(3):CD005004.

Kushiyama M, Shimazaki Y, Murakami M, Yamashita Y. Relationship between intake of green tea and periodontal disease. Journal of Periodontology 2009 80(3):372-7.

Kuriyama S, Hozawa A, Ohmori K, et al. Green tea consumption and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study from the Tsurugaya Project 1. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006 83(2):355-61.

Yamabe N, Kang KS, Hur JM, Yokozawa T. Matcha, a powdered green tea, ameliorates the progression of renal and hepatic damage in type 2 diabetic OLETF rats. J Med Food. 2009 Aug;12(4):714-21.

Yang YC, Lu FH, Wu JS, Wu CH, Chang CJ. The protective effect of habitual tea consumption on hypertension. Arch Intern Med. 2004 Jul 26;164(14):1534-40.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.