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Should I Drink Matcha or Coffee?
Updated on May 30, 2023
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Should I Drink Matcha or Coffee?

Matcha is a concentrated form of Japanese green tea. Its growing popularity can be attributed to its promising health benefits, like how it’s a gentler alternative for a caffeine boost compared to coffee.

Coffee has been most people’s favorite go-to morning drink for years. Its powerful aroma alone can jolt you awake. It stimulates your brain and boosts your energy.

“Caffeine is a powerful nervous system and brain stimulant. It triggers the release of cortisol and adrenaline which are neurotransmitters important for brain function,” says our medical expert, Dr. Rizza Mira.

However, some people experience side effects like jitters or anxiety from drinking coffee. If you find that coffee is too strong, matcha is a great substitute.

Matcha tea is one of the most popular coffee alternatives that give you an uptick in alertness without any of coffee’s unpleasant side effects. Matcha is a type of green tea with caffeine as its key ingredient.

Quick Facts on Matcha and Coffee


  • Caffeine content: 19 to 44 mg per gram
  • Safe amount per day: 2 to 3 cups
  • What it’s made of: Fine powder from shade-grown green tea leaves
  • Interesting facts
    • Matcha green tea has more caffeine than regular brewed tea
    • Matcha has high levels of antioxidants
    • Matcha helps with bad breath
    • Japan is the biggest producer of matcha


  • Caffeine content: 19 to 44 mg per gram
  • Safe amount per day: 4 to 5 cups 
  • What it’s made of: Roasted seeds of a certain berry-type fruit
  • Interesting facts
    • Coffee is rich in antioxidants
    • Coffee beans are technically seeds 
    • Brazil is the largest producer of coffee

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Matcha We Recommend:

Is Matcha Better Than Coffee?

Matcha and coffee have their benefits, but matcha may be better for your overall health. For starters, it has fewer potential side effects. 

“Matcha is not just caffeine; it contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, too. Fewer tremors are also observed compared with caffeine,” says Dr. Mira.

Let’s look at the advantages matcha has over coffee.

Matcha is better for anxiety 

Your doctor may ask you to refrain from drinking too much coffee if you suffer from anxiety disorders. Study shows caffeine can worsen your symptoms and raise the risk of a panic attack.1

Matcha is less likely to trigger anxiety because it has a high L-theanine content, despite having caffeine. L-theanine is an amino acid that increases your brain's alpha wave activity.

Studies link alpha wave activity to a more relaxed state of mind.3 L-theanine also slows down your body’s caffeine absorption, neutralizing the jittery side effects of caffeine. Matcha also does not affect one’s mood, adding to this state of relaxation.

Matcha may help you lose weight more than coffee

Both coffee and matcha help you lose weight because they contain caffeine. Studies show caffeine influences weight loss by reducing fats and increasing metabolism.4 

However, matcha may have an advantage over coffee since it contains an antioxidant called catechin. Catechin is a powerful plant compound that increases your body’s ability to burn fats. 

“It is also these catechins that help the body get rid of free radicals which damage the cells,” says Dr. Mira.

A study shows drinking green tea can enhance weight loss and help burn belly fat in obese and overweight people.5

Matcha has better caffeine jolt than coffee

The energy boost from matcha's caffeine feels different from coffee's. Coffee's caffeine boost causes a sudden spike in your energy levels. 

But, as the effects wear off, you'll feel an energy slump. Caffeine blocks your brain’s adenosine receptors to boost your energy.6 

Adenosine is a chemical messenger in the brain that helps promote and regulate sleep. Once your caffeine high subsides, the adenosine level bounces back.7 

This causes a decline in brain activity resulting in drowsiness.7 

On the other hand, matcha provides a sustained energy boost. The body gradually absorbs and releases the caffeine in matcha for around six to eight hours with the help of L-theanine.

Nutritional Comparison 

Matcha and coffee are low in calories when prepared without milk, sugar, cream, flavored syrups, or other added ingredients.

The traditional Japanese tea ceremony preparation uses a standard ratio of half a teaspoon (½) of matcha powder for every eight-ounce cup of water.

It results in the best balance of flavor and color, allowing you to enjoy matcha's indulgent taste and aroma.

On the other hand, the golden ratio for coffee is two (2) tablespoons for every cup of water. It delivers a rich and intense flavor, balancing sweetness and bitterness.

Let’s compare the nutrients of a standard cup of matcha and brewed coffee.

Carbs1 gram0 grams
Sugar0 grams0 grams
Fiber1 gram0 grams
Protein1 gram0.3 grams
Fat0 grams0.5 grams

Health Benefits of Matcha

Matcha may benefit your health in many different ways. It has components that can help improve your well-being. 

Boosts cognitive functions

Matcha has a high concentration of L-theanine. Multiple studies have shown that L-theanine promotes the production of essential neurotransmitters or chemical messengers in the brain

Among them is dopamine—the neurotransmitter acting as the brain’s “reward center.”8 

Dopamine has vital roles in many brain functions, including

  • Executive function
  • Motivation
  • Reward
  • Motor control
  • Arousal
  • Reinforcement

“Another neurotransmitter is serotonin. This stabilizes one's mood,” says Dr. Mira.

Rich in antioxidants

Matcha is rich in polyphenols or plant compounds known for their antioxidant properties, like catechin. Antioxidants are compounds that help fight the harmful effects of free radicals

“In studies, it is cited that the antioxidant activity of green teas are comparable to that of Vitamin C, E and tocopherol,” says Dr. Mira.

Free radicals are unstable atoms that your body naturally produces after cell processes. For instance, cellular respiration, or the process of breaking down glucose for energy, is the primary physiological cause of free radicals.9

But environmental insults such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet (UV) rays may also cause the body to generate free radicals.

Free radicals may damage the DNA in your cells, leading to different illnesses. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals to avoid a chain reaction affecting other cells in your body.9

Promotes good liver health

Some studies show that matcha promotes betters liver health. Catechins—an antioxidant in matcha— help improve liver function in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).10 

NAFLD refers to different health conditions caused by a fat buildup in the liver. It commonly occurs in obese or overweight individuals

A study shows that, when combined with exercise, catechins from green tea extract reduce fat accumulation in the liver.10

Aids in weight loss

Matcha is abundant in phytochemical Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) or a type of catechin. EGCG has thermogenic or heat-producing properties, boosting your body’s metabolism.

Your body can burn more calories at rest or during physical activities if you have a high metabolism.

Downsides of Matcha

May cause stomach discomfort

The caffeine and fiber content in matcha can cause laxative-like effects for some. It can bring stomach discomfort to people not used to caffeinated drinks.

Besides, drinking matcha on an empty stomach may irritate your gut lining. For people who produce excessive acid, Matcha is a better alternative than coffee.

Can affect your body’s iron absorption

Too much matcha may affect your body’s iron levels. Polyphenols such as EGCG and caffeine are the primary inhibitors of iron absorption.11

Caffeine and polyphenols bind with the protein that transports iron, making it difficult for the body to absorb. 

Since matcha has both, excessive consumption can affect how your intestines absorb iron from foods. It can later lead to iron deficiency.

Potential exposure to toxic elements 

Studies found matcha may cause exposure to toxic elements because of the environment where the camellia sinensis plant is grown. Traces of lead, arsenic, and fluoride are present in the soil.12

The toxic chemicals can make their way into the leaves. Regular brewed green tea may pose a lower risk than matcha because it infuses fewer leaves into the hot water.

On the other hand, using the entire leaf to make matcha powder may mean an increased risk of consuming higher levels of potentially toxic substances.

If matcha is your go-to afternoon fix, make sure to choose organic matcha. Also, check that your chosen brand has screened for these toxins. 

Health Benefits of Coffee

Like matcha, drinking the right amount of coffee can also benefit your overall health. These are the most popular benefits of coffee.

Rich in antioxidants

Coffee is a potent source of antioxidants, which help fight inflammation. Inflammation is the common underlying cause of chronic health conditions, including arthritis and different types of cancer.

Antioxidants also counteract the damaging effects of free radicals, like oxidative stress leading to chronic diseases. Oxidative stress happens when there are too many unstable atoms in the body.

Simply put, coffee can help protect your cells from damage. It also lowers your risk of developing chronic conditions. Some studies add that coffee can lower the incidence of Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s disease.

Lowers your risk of diabetes

Scientists believe that coffee may lower your risk of diabetes by helping your body use insulin properly.13 

Insulin is a hormone the liver produces to help blood sugar enter your cells. The cells absorb sugar to use as energy or store it for later. 

Research links coffee consumption to a lower chance of getting type 2 diabetes. Caffeine helps lower cell insulin sensitivity, so they don’t absorb as much sugar from your bloodstream.13 

Although some research suggests coffee's potential role in diabetes management, there are conflicting studies on this topic. So drinking coffee may not be considered a definitive method for preventing diabetes. 

Always consult your doctor or other qualified health provider for accurate information and advice on managing your condition.

Helps slow down the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s

Most studies associate regular coffee consumption with a reduced risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

AD is a progressive condition characterized by dementia or memory loss. Several factors can lead to AD, like genetic or environmental factors.

But the most common cause of AD is beta-amyloid protein buildup in your brain. High levels of beta-amyloid clump in your brain, forming plaques that disrupt brain functions like memory.14

Scientists believe that caffeine protects your brain from beta-amyloid buildup. Besides, coffee also has polyphenols that help degrade amyloid beta peptides.15

Amyloid beta peptides also contribute to beta-amyloid plaques. They trigger the progression of AD.

Lowers your risk of developing cancer

Studies show that coffee helps decrease your risk of developing hormone-related cancers. 

“This effect is due to its anti-inflammatory properties. As such, it can help prevent and stop progression of cancers,” says Dr. Mira.

For instance, one study found men who drink coffee regularly have a lower risk of developing a fatal form of prostate cancer.16 

Another research suggests that drinking four or more cups of coffee every day lowers the risk of endometrial cancer in women by 25 percent.17 

Still, that amount of coffee may be too much for some people. 

Multiple research has also linked drinking coffee regularly to decreased occurrence of liver, colon, breast, and rectal cancers. 

Several studies demonstrate that the polyphenols and antioxidants in coffee have anticarcinogenic properties. They can prevent or delay the progression of these cancers.

Downsides of Coffee

Causes jitters

The most common side effect of too much coffee is jitters and nervousness. 

Caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors in your brain to make you feel awake and alert. However, doing so ignites the central nervous system (CNS). 

It causes neural excitation in the brain, which the pituitary gland sees as an emergency. It’ll trigger the adrenal gland to release adrenaline hormones as part of your body’s fight-or-flight response

It leads to jitters and other symptoms like:

  • Headache
  • Digestion problems
  • Irritability
  • Quickened heartbeat

People with caffeine sensitivity may feel these side effects even after consuming just a tiny amount.

May cause dependency

Coffee is a CNS stimulant, working on the areas of the brain linked with reward and motivation. It causes a surge of dopamine in your brain. 

Dopamine is the hormone that helps us feel pleasure and motivation and find things interesting. 

The effect isn’t large enough to throw your brain’s reward system off balance, unlike with drugs, such as amphetamines and cocaine. 

But even so, coffee can still cause dependency. It can rewire your brain because it produces the alertness most people seek. It can lead to coffee dependence

“Coffee dependence can take the form of severe headaches or loss of concentration when coffee is abruptly cut off from the system,” says Dr. Mira.

Affects your sleep

Once you drink coffee, you may instantly feel alert and awake. You can feel that jolt of energy within 15 to 45 minutes. 

However, caffeine has a half-life of four to six hours, meaning that half of how much you consume stays in your system for up to six hours.

If you consume coffee right before your bedtime, it can impact your sleep cycle, causing sleep disturbances. You may experience difficulty falling asleep

What Should I Drink?

You should consume matcha more than coffee. When craving a warm beverage, have matcha green tea and coffee alternately.

Both matcha and coffee are abundant in antioxidants. They share multiple health benefits, such as weight loss and cancer prevention, although matcha has fewer potential side effects. 

Drinking matcha and coffee is acceptable, so long as you stay within the limit. When taken in moderate amounts, they can help up your energy so that you can get through your day.

Why Substitute Coffee?

Despite the many health benefits of coffee, excessive consumption can still impact your health negatively. 

The most common adverse side effects of coffee include jitters, digestive problems like indigestion or acidity, and insomnia or sleep difficulties.

Besides these unpleasant effects, one more reason to substitute coffee is to avoid or prevent coffee dependence. 

Coffee dependence can be seen as extreme reliance on caffeine to perform daily tasks. It can also make it hard for you to quit coffee

Besides, dependence brings unpleasant feelings when you try to stop abruptly, like severe headaches and other flu-like symptoms. These can be signs of caffeine withdrawal syndrome. 

Gradually cutting down your coffee intake can help you avoid withdrawal symptoms. Add matcha tea and other coffee alternatives to your daily routine.

Matcha isn’t complicated, so it can replace coffee as your morning drink. Start with the right matcha tea and supplies, like a bamboo whisk.

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Updated on May 30, 2023
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17 sources cited
Updated on May 30, 2023
  1. Effects of caffeine on anxiety and panic attacks in patients with panic disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  2. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  3. Exploratory study of brain waves and corresponding brain regions of fatigue on‐call doctors using quantitative electroencephalogram.” Journal of Occupational Health.
  4. The effects of caffeine intake on weight loss: a systematic review and dos-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  5. Green Tea Catechin Consumption Enhances Exercise-Induced Abdominal Fat Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults.” Journal of Nutrition.
  6. Caffeine and adenosine.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  7. Adenosine Receptors: Expression, Function and Regulation.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
  8. The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  9. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health.” Pharmacognosy Reviews.
  10. Matcha Green Tea Alleviates Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in High-Fat Diet-Induced Obese Mice by Regulating Lipid Metabolism and Inflammatory Responses.” Nutrients.
  11. Ascorbic Acid Offsets the Inhibitory Effect of Bioactive Dietary Polyphenolic Compounds on Transepithelial Iron Transport in Caco-2 Intestinal Cells.” Journal of Nutrition.
  12. The Benefits and Risks of Consuming Brewed Tea: Beware of Toxic Element Contamination.” Journal of Toxicology.
  13. Coffee and Lower Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Arguments for a Causal Relationship.” Nutrients.
  14. Amyloid Precursor Protein Processing and Alzheimer’s Disease.” Annual Review of Neuroscience.
  15. Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer's disease.” National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  16. Coffee may reduce risk of lethal prostate cancer in men.” Harvard School of Public Health.
  17. A Prospective Cohort Study of Coffee Consumption and Risk of Endometrial Cancer over a 26-year of Follow-Up.” American Association for Cancer Research.
Dr. Rizza Mira
Dr. Rizza Mira
Medical Reviewer
Dr. Rizza Mira is a medical doctor and a general practitioner who specializes in pediatrics, nutrition, dietetics, and public health.

As a pediatrician, she is dedicated to the general health and well-being of children and expecting parents. She believes that good nutrition, a healthy lifestyle, and prevention of illness are key to ensuring the health of children and their families.

When she’s not in the hospital, Rizza advocates and mobilizes causes like breastfeeding, vaccination drives, and initiatives to prevent illness in the community.
Cristine Santander
Cristine Santander
Content Contributor
Cristine Santander is a content writer for KnowYourDNA. She has a B.S. in Psychology and enjoys writing about health and wellness.
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