Did you know that matcha includes the same nutritional benefits found in 10 cups of regular green tea? Famous for its antioxidants and low amounts of caffeine, matcha has one more secret ingredient in its wellness-boosting arsenal: L-theanine, an amino acid unique to tea, which can be found in abundant levels in matcha. In this blog, we are diving deep into what this amazing amino acid is and how it can help you. Keep on reading to learn more about the benefits!

What is L-Theanine?

Matcha tea is a popular drink choice due to its unique flavor and health benefits. Matcha also offers a steady, no-crash energy boost that is preferred among many as an alternative to coffee. The L-theanine amino acid plays an important role here.

L-theanine is mostly found in green tea and black tea, and is abundant in high quality matcha green tea powder. This amino acid is known for helping with anxiety and stress, mental focus issues, and it can even make you feel satiated. If you find yourself looking for ways to reduce stress and feel mentally and emotionally calmer, then high quality matcha tea is a great option for you.

Higher grades of matcha tea have super concentrations of L-theanine. In general, a second harvest grade of matcha might have 6mg of it in 1 gram of matcha powder, whereas a true ceremonial matcha tea can be as high as 16mg. (1 gram of matcha is equal to ½ tsp).

Because high quality matcha is in its whole food form with little processing, the nutrients retain their synergistic effect, working together naturally as mother nature intended. The caffeine in matcha boosts the effects of L-theanine, while matcha green tea’s catechins work to reduce caffeine’s ‘wired’ feelings or ‘spike effect’ that can happen when drinking other caffeinated beverages.

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At My Matcha Life®, our Tea Lover’s Organic Ceremonial Matcha Tea is picked during the first harvest in spring after 2-4 weeks of being shade covered, so it naturally contains higher levels of L-theanine. Shade covering blocks direct sunlight to the leaves, increasing the leaf’s chlorophyll and L-theanine content. The higher the L-theanine, the smoother tasting the matcha tea.

What are the Benefits of L-Theanine?

Here are some potential benefits:

  • Thinking & Cognitive Function. It’s great for helping with mental clarity and cognitive function; consuming matcha tea that has higher levels of L-theanine can help you stay focused throughout the day.
  • Anxiety & Stress Reduction. Another benefit is reducing feelings of anxiety, creating a calming effect. Around 3:00 pm is a great time for matcha, as the day’s stresses pile up and blood sugar levels drop, one can feel anxious and stressed, brain fog even! Drinking one cup of matcha tea can bring you back into focus, with a calmer state of mind. And studies have shown L-theanine can increase dopamine levels, so you feel happier!
  • Focus. It helps with focus and attention. If you find yourself not being very productive or if focusing is difficult for you, you might want to consider drinking matcha tea daily to get the cumulative benefits of L-theanine. This helps many people stay more alert in their daily lives.

How Does L-Theanine Work?

L-theanine stimulates the brain’s alpha waves, which an EEG test can measure. The presence of alpha waves indicates a state of alertness. If you find that you are alert and focused, that usually means the alpha waves in your brain are active When you drink matcha tea with its concentration of L-theanine, these alpha waves get triggered. If you’ve ever had a cup of matcha tea and found yourself more alert than normal, the l-theanine is partly why.

Of course, matcha also contains caffeine, which alone contributes to mental alertness and clarity, but studies have shown that caffeine increases the effects of L-theanine. It is like a double whammy of focus! Did you know that a serving of matcha (1/2 tsp) has, on average, 30 mg of caffeine and most people use 1-2 servings per drink? (by comparison coffee can have 80mg of caffeine, or 200mg!).

The high levels of caffeine in coffee often result in a ‘crash,’ and people complain about feeling shaky, wired, or jittery after drinking a cup of coffee. The low levels of caffeine in matcha, however, supported by the effects of L-theanine, help to create a sustained feeling of focus and alertness without the crash or jitters.

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Final Thoughts

All in all, L-theanine is an amino acid that offers benefits for those who need help with stress, anxiety, and staying focused. We highly recommend giving matcha tea a try to see how L-theanine can benefit you!