Matcha tea has been touted as a superfood because it is high in antioxidants and vitamins. But most who drink it have a simpler mission: It's their morning cuppa.
A majority of Americans drink at least one caffeinated beverage a day, but the side effects can be unpleasant. Vandana Sheth, a registered dietician for 18 years, said many of her clients want a morning jolt but do not like the headaches, racing heart and sweaty palms that go along with several cups of coffee.
For these people, she often recommends trying matcha, which can help wake you up without the jitters.
Matcha is green tea leaves crushed into a fine, electric green powder. Whisk the powder into warm or hot water, and it dissolves into a frothy drink.
In a regular cup of tea, tea leaves are just steeped in water, but when you drink matcha, you actually consume the whole leaf and the nutrients it contains.
Drinking the whole leaf provides the antioxidants and health benefits, Sheth says, at higher levels than other superfoods such as like acai berries or goji berries.
At the same time, another component of the leaf, L-theanine, the secret behind the mellow matcha buzz, helps prevent the shaky coffee feeling.
"L-theanine is an amino acid, and studies have shown it provides a stress relief; it produces a calm feeling in our body," Sheth said. A normal serving of matcha contains less caffeine than coffee, around 70mg compared with coffee's 100mg. But Sheth says that the caffeine effects last longer because when combined with L-theanine, it's slowly released throughout the body.