Matcha’s recent rise in popularity among health enthusiasts and professionals comes with no surprise when considering the many health benefits it offers. Of the many, we would like to take the time to talk about one of them in detail: Matcha’s natural energy boost.


What is L-Theanine?

L-theanine is an amino acid naturally found in the Camellia Sinensis (tea) plant, and it is what gives Matcha its slightly sweet notes. Of all teas, green tea is said to have the greatest amount of L-theanine, and within the green tea category, Matcha is said to have the highest concentrations.


Why does Matcha contain L-Theanine?

Matcha contains L-theanine due to the shade growing process it undergoes. Approximately one month before harvest, layers of shade are added over the tea farms, eventually blocking out about 90% of direct sunlight. This process mitigates the photosynthesis in the leaves, which preserves the L-theanine (and other amino acids) in the process.

Other varieties of green teas (with the exception of Gyokuro which is also shade grown) are open air grown and exposed to direct sunlight, stimulating photosynthesis in the process. Photosynthesis converts a portion of L-theanine into catechins, a type of antioxidant, which make the teas more astringent and less sweet than their shade grown counterparts.


What are the effects of L-Theanine?

L-theanine allows our bodies to more slowly absorb the natural caffeine in Matcha, which results in a sustained 3-6 hour period of energy without the crash or jitters that may come with other caffeinated drinks. Studies have shown that L-theanine also triggers alpha wave brain activity (an indicator of alertness) and stimulates dopamine (your brain’s naturally occurring “feel good” chemical) to simultaneously increase focus and mood, while also reducing stress.


How much L-Theanine should I take?

There are mixed results for studies looking at L-theanine consumption. Some studies suggest consuming around 200mg of L-theanine daily, while others suggest limiting daily consumption to 50-100mg. Though there are currently no set guidelines for intake volume, overconsumption (as with anything else) should be avoided, and checking with a medical professional is always recommended for any specific questions you may have about the effects of L-theanine on your body and health. For your references, 1g of Matcha contains 19.5mg of L-theanine, so a cup of Matcha (2g) should contain >40g.