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Is Matcha a Better Form of Green Tea? ConsumerLab.com Answers the Question

White Plains, New York, October 14, 2015 — For the past three years, ConsumerLab.com has been testing green tea products, including tea bags, bottled drinks, dietary supplements, and even a K-Cup®. Most recently it purchased and tested products containing a fine powder of young, green tea leaves known as matcha. The results show that matcha powders provide a higher concentration of antioxidant catechins, including EGCG, than brewable green teas. ConsumerLab also found these matcha powders to be virtually free of contamination with heavy metals (lead, arsenic, and cadmium) and pesticides, which has not been the case with other green teas. This is important because matcha powder, after being mixed with hot water, is consumed in its entirety — as opposed to tea which is brewed but the leaves, which retain contaminants, are discarded. 

There is evidence that green tea, as a drink or extract, may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Much of the research behind green tea is not from clinical trials designed to establish cause-and-effect relationships, but from studies of populations (typically in Asia) where the use of green tea is common. The health benefits are generally associated with intakes of about 2 to 5 cups of brewed green tea daily (which should yield about 100 to 200 mg of EGCG). Higher amounts of EGCG from extracts have been used in some studies, particularly those for cancer and weight loss, which have shown some benefit, although the weight loss effect may be due to caffeine in green tea.  

"Going into this research, we were concerned that matcha powders were contaminated like certain other green teas we have tested," said Tod Cooperman, M.D., President of ConsumerLab.com. "Fortunately, this was not the case. At least with the products we reviewed, you can relax and enjoy a cup of matcha without worry, although it is quite expensive." Brands of matcha products tested were DöMatcha, Kirkland Signature (Costco), Rishi, Teavana, and The Republic of Tea. Results by product are found in ConsumerLab.com's Green Tea Review, along with results for 24 other green tea products and extensive clinical information about green tea.

The lowest cost for a serving a matcha powder (one teaspoon) was found to be about one dollar, which is much higher than the lowest cost for a serving of brewed tea from bagged green tea, which was about 10 cents. Even though matcha powders had higher concentration of EGCG (50 to 55 mg per gram) than brewed teas (about 20 to 40 mg per gram), the cost to obtain 200 mg of EGCG was still much higher from matcha — over $2, compared to as little as 27 cents from brewed tea. (As previously reported by ConsumerLab.com, the least expensive source of EGCG is green tea dietary supplements and the most expensive is bottled tea).

Two products which combined matcha with other forms of green tea in tea bags were also tested: They were much less expensive per serving than pure matcha powders, but also yielded far less EGCG, making the cost to obtain EGCG comparable to that of the matcha powders. They also provided much less caffeine (16 to 20 mg per serving) than the pure matcha powders (53 to 72 mg per serving). ConsumerLab.com previously found that other green teas in tea bags provide about 20 to 40 mg of caffeine per serving. For comparison, a cup of brewed coffee provides about 95 mg of caffeine.

ConsumerLab.com is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. Membership to ConsumerLab.com is available online, providing immediate access to independent reviews of more than 1,000 products. The company is privately held and based in Westchester, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products. ConsumerLab.com is affiliated with PharmacyChecker.com, an evaluator of online pharmacies, and MedicareDrugPlans.com, which reviews and rates Medicare Part D plans.



 

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