Whole leaves and shade growing make a difference
Matcha is unique among tea because as you drink it, you ingest the entire leaf. And through shade-growing, matcha contains higher levels of l-theanine, a relaxing agent.
High in antioxidants
ANTIOXIDANT ORAC* VALUE IN FOOD
Source: Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. Lipophillic and Hydrophillic Antioxidant Capacities of Common Foods in the United States.
Matcha’s elevated levels of antioxidants—even among green teas—is because of how you consume matcha, by eating the entire leaf. You could ingest the nutritions that you would throw away in a steeped tea bag otherwise. This puts it way above other foods more commonly known to be rich in antioxidants.
*Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (antioxidant)
Caffaine and L-theanine
L-theanine is a protein that helps regulate cortisol (a stress hormone) and moderates your body’s caffeine uptake. Matcha leaves are higher in l-theanine because they’re grown in the shade, which prevents the l-theanine from transforming into more bitter tasting catechin.
So when you drink matcha, the l-theanine calms you down while caffeine lifts you up—producing higher brain function than caffeine alone.
MATCHA VS COFFEE
Instead of coffee’s energy spike and crash, drinking matcha produces a calm, longer-lasting energy boost. This is due to the combination of l-theanine and caffeine.
Improved focus and concentration
P: PLACEBO T: L-THEANINE 100mg C: CAFFEINE 50mg T+C: COMBINATION
Source: L-Theanine and Caffeine in Combination Affect Human Cognition as Evidenced by Oscillatory alpha-Band Activity and Attention Task Performance (by Simon P. Kelly, Manuel Gomez-Ramirez, Jennifer L. Montesi, and John J. Foxe)
A study showed that when l-theanine and caffeine are combined, it improved a person’s behavioral performance (Hit Rate) significantly, when compared to l-theanine or caffeine alone.