If you frequent specialty coffee shops, you’ve probably heard of matcha. The powdered green tea is growing in popularity in the U.S., but has been a staple in Japan for centuries. Matcha makes a bright green drink that’s very high in antioxidants, because you consume the whole leaf rather than just liquid infused with the leaves. The downside? Drinks (and snacks) made with matcha often contain a lot of sugar.
Here’s what you need to know—both good and bad—about matcha.
Matcha is used to flavor both sweet or savory foods.
The powder can be stirred into muffins, brownies, puddings, soups and more. Search for matcha recipes online to find a few to try.
The tea leaves may boost health.
Though matcha research is still in its infancy, a number of studies suggest that drinking matcha can help improve brain function. Like other green teas, it also contains compounds that may lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Matcha contains caffeine.
You’ll get about three times more caffeine in a cup of matcha tea than in steeped tea, or about the same amount as a cup of coffee.
Some brands may contain lead.
Green tea leaves can soak up lead from the soil. Since lead, even in small amounts, can cause serious health problems, ConsumerLab.com tested several popular American brands and determined that lead was not a concern. However, some researchers say it’s best to limit consumption to one cup a day.