This is an image of a shaded green tea field in Japan.

Matcha’s recent rise in popularity among health enthusiasts and professionals comes with no surprise when considering the many health benefits it offers. Of those perks, 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. Compared to all other teas, green tea is said to have the greatest amounts 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 farm fields, 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 to 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 (the 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 200 milligrams of L-Theanine daily, while others suggest limiting daily consumption to 50-100 milligrams. Though there are currently no set guidelines for intake volume, overconsumption 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 reference, 1 gram of Matcha contains 19.5 milligrams of L-Theanine, so a cup of Matcha (2 grams) should contain less than 40 grams.