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Product Review: Green Tea Supplements, Drinks, Brewable Teas, and Matcha Review
 

Initial Posting: 12/21/12 (Added Brewable Teas Section 5/13/13; Added Matcha Section 10/10/15) Last Update: 3/18/2017

Sections: Jump to a section by clicking on its name. Green Tea Supplements, Drinks, and Brewable Teas Review
Summary: What's the Best Way to Get Green Tea Compounds?

As described below, green tea offers a range of potential health benefits (see What It Does), and these are generally associated with natural catechins in green tea, most notably EGCG (See What It Is). Our tests (see What CL Found) of green tea supplements, beverages, brewable teas, and matcha powders show that the least expensive way to get green tea catechins, such as EGCG, is from supplements, and the most cost effective supplements tested were NOW EGCg Green Tea Extract and Trunature (Costco) Green Tea (10 cents to obtain 200 mg of EGCG). If you prefer to drink your green tea, a brewed cup of Lipton Green Tea provided catechins at the lowest cost (27 cents to obtain 200 mg of EGCG). Matcha powders provided more catechins per gram than brewed green tea, but at much higher cost -- the lowest cost being from Teavana Imperial Matcha ($2.31 to obtain 200 mg of EGCG). As opposed to loose matcha powder, tea bags which included matcha powder were found to yield very little EGCG. Bottled green tea was generally the most expensive way to go: The beverage with the most EGCG and lowest cost for obtaining it was Harney & Sons Organic Green ($4.45 to obtain 200 mg of EGCG).

This Review was conducted in three stages: supplements and beverages were tested in 2012, brewable teas in 2013, and matcha products in 2015. Results with brewable teas raised concerns about lead contamination -- although only in the green tea remaining in tea bags and not in the liquid tea. Contamination was not found with matcha powders, which is fortunate as matcha is fully consumed as part of the prepared tea. No products made from green tea from Japan were contaminated -- only those with green tea from China.  

What It Is:
Green tea is made from the plant Camellia sinensis. It contains compounds called catechins (a subset of a group of compounds called polyphenols) that in test tube studies show antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antitumorigenic, and anti-microbial properties. Green and black teas are both made from the same plant, but green tea is made by lightly steaming freshly cut leaves, while black tea is fermented and has lower amounts of catechins. The main catechin found in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Green tea also naturally contains caffeine -- although somewhat less than black tea and much less than coffee. Green tea supplements typically contain dry or liquid extracts of green tea or green tea herb powder.

What It Does:
Green tea as a drink or extract has been promoted for a variety of health benefits, but the most common are cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and weight loss. Much of the research behind green tea, however, 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 has been associated with certain health outcomes.

Cardiovascular Disease:
Population studies have found that routine green tea consumption -- typically 5 or more cups per day -- to be associated with about a 20% reduction in the risk of coronary artery disease (Wang, Am J Clin Nutr 2011) as well as a reduced risk of death caused by heart disease (Kuriyama, JAMA 2006). A study of more one hundred thousand men in China followed for an average of 11 years found that, compared to non-green tea drinkers, regular green tea drinkers had significantly lower rates of death (about 5% lower if drinking as much as 5 cups per day, and 11% lower if drinking more), as well as lower rates of death from cardiovascular disease (9% lower for those drinking as much as 5 cups per day and 14% lower if drinking more) (Liu, Eur J Edidemiol 2016). (Note: Tea use was reported in the study in grams of tea: 2 grams equals about 1 cup.)

An analysis of 14 studies showed that drinking green tea or taking green tea extract reduced total cholesterol by 7.2 mg/dL, including a 2.2 mg/dL decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL, "bad cholesterol"), compared to a control group. Green tea did not significantly change levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, "good cholesterol") (Zheng, Am J Clin Nutr 2011).

Population studies have also found the consumption of 3 or more cups of green tea to be associated with a 21% reduction in the risk of ischemic stroke compared to consumption of less than one cup per day (Arab, Stroke 2009). In fact, a recent study found the risk of stroke among Japanese adults (ages 45 to 74) to be 14% and 20% lower, respectively, for those with daily consumption of 2-3 cups and 4 or more cups, compared to those who seldom drank green tea (Kokubo, Stroke 2013).

Cancer Prevention:
Test tube and animal studies hint that tea constituents might help prevent cancers of the stomach, lung, esophagus, duodenum, pancreas, liver, breast, and colon. The majority of studies have examined the effects of drinking brewed tea, rather than the effects of taking green tea supplements.

An analysis of 51 studies, most of which were population studies, found no consistent association between green tea consumption and gastric, colon, esophageal, pancreatic, or bladder cancer risk, although some studies found an association between green tea consumption and a reduced risk of liver cancer and ovarian cancer (Boehm, Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2009). However, a large study of men in China (Liu, Eur J Edidemiol 2016 - described above) found the risk of death from cancer to be lower among regular drinkers of green tea than among non-drinkers, with those consuming more than 5 cups per day having a 21% lower death rate.

A study in South Korea among 143 men and women (average age 59) who had recently had polyps (growths which sometimes develop into colon cancer) removed from their colons found that those who took two tablets of green tea extract twice a day with meals (totaling of 900 mg of extract, providing 600 mg of catechins of which 200 mg was EGCG) every day for one year following the procedure developed fewer new polyps compared to those who did not take the extract. Among those who took the extract, 28% developed polyps, versus 61% of those who did not take the extract (Shin, Clin Nutr 2017).

Although population-based studies have not found drinking green tea to significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer (Zheng, Nutr Cancer 2011), a small, but well controlled study in humans using a green tea extract (providing 311 mg of EGCG per day) found that it reduced prostate cancer rates in men who already had pre-cancerous changes in the prostate. After one year, only 3% of the men receiving the supplement developed prostate cancer while 30% of men who received placebo developed prostate cancer (Bettuzzi, Cancer Res 2006; see ConsumerTips for dosage used). Another well-controlled, one-year study in another group of men with pre-cancerous prostate lesions used a different green tea exact (providing 400 mg of EGCG per day). This study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, showed a lower incidence of prostate cancer among those taking the extract (10.2% developed cancer) than those taking placebo (18.8% developed cancer) but the results were not statistically significant — partly due to the small size of the study. However, among those taking the extract, there were statistically significant decreases in serum levels of PSA (a prostate cancer marker) and in the diagnosis of ASAP (lesions which may be pre-cancerous) (Kumar, Canc Prev Res).

An analysis of 9 population studies found drinking more than 3 cups of green tea per day was associated with a 27% reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence (Ogunleye, Breast Cancer Res Treat 2010). However, studies have not been consistent regarding an effect on overall breast cancer risk.

An analysis of 12 population studies found that dinking 2 cups daily was associated with an 18% reduction in the risk of lung cancer compared to consuming less than a cup per day (Tang, Lung Cancer 2009).

Preliminary laboratory evidence suggested that the green tea catechin, EGCG, may help prevent skin cancer if applied directly to the skin. However, a double-blind, placebo controlled study failed to find that a combination of oral and topical green tea extracts reduced signs of precancerous sun-damage in skin.

See the Cancer Prevention article in the Encyclopedia on this website for more information about green tea and other approaches to preventing cancer. Other ingredients with potential benefit include vitamin E, folate, garlic, selenium, soy isoflavones and other isoflavones, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), diindolylmethane (DIM), vitamin C and vitamin D.

Fibroids:
Laboratory research has suggested a role of green tea extract in shrinking uterine fibroids, which are non-cancerous tumors of the uterine wall affecting up to 70% of reproductive-age women and which may cause pelvic pain. Based on these findings, a study was conducted in 33 women ages 18 to 50 years with uterine fibroids. The women were given 800 mg of green tea extract (45% EGCG) or a placebo, taken after meals, daily for 4 months. By the end of the study, fibroid size (volume) was reduced by 32.6% among women receiving the extract, while it increased 24.3% in the placebo group. Treatment also significantly reduced the severity of symptoms (such as pelvic pain), as well as anemia (which can occur with fibroids). No adverse effects were observed (Roshdy, Int J Wom Health 2013). While these results seem promising, taking a green tea extract is not advisable for women who may be conceiving or are pregnant, due to increased risk of birth defects (see Concerns and Cautions).

Diabetes:
An analysis of 20 population studies shows that drinking 3 or more cups of black or green tea daily is associated with a 16% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (Huxley, Arch Intern Med 2009).

Weight Loss:
While some studies have found green tea to modestly aid in weight loss and protect against weight gain, not all studies have found a benefit, and some researchers have proposed that weight loss associated with green tea could be largely attributed to its caffeine content (as caffeine can reduce appetite and is a key component other herbal weight loss supplements) (Phung, Am J Clin Nutr 2010).
However, one study of a caffeine-rich green tea extract supplement found no weight loss benefit. In the study, normal weight, overweight, and obese men and women who took 9 capsules daily of green tea extract (providing between 280 — 540 mg caffeine and a minimum of 560 mg EGCG per day) for 3 months had no significant change in body weight compared to those who took a placebo (Janssens, J Nutr 2015). The study also investigated whether the extract reduced the amount of fat men and women absorbed from their food (another proposed effect of green tea catechins), but no significant difference in absorption was found. A limitation of this study was that the researchers were aware who received the extract and who received the placebo, although the study was not funded by the manufacturer of the extract. 

It has also been suggested that green tea catechins may help with weight management by inhibiting starch digestion and absorption (by inhibiting digestive enzymes). This theory was tested in young adults fed corn flakes and while being given a green tea extract or a placebo. The carbohydrates in the corn flakes contained a special form of carbon and the amount of carbohydrates absorbed from the corn flakes was determined by the measurement of this carbon in their breath for up to 4 hours after the meal. Based on this analysis, the green tea extract (4 grams containing 257.6 mg of EGCG) reduced the amount of carbohydrate absorption by 29% (Lochocka, Nature Sci Reports 2015).  

Studies using decaffeinated green tea extract have generally not shown a significant benefit. One study involved obese young women in Spain who were put on a low-calorie diet and given either a green tea extract or a placebo, three times a day with meals. The extract provided approximately 300 mg of EGCG daily. After 12 weeks, both groups lost approximately equal amounts of weight and fat (Mielgo-Ayuso Br J Nutr 2014).A more recent 12-week study gave obese women in Taiwan an even higher daily amount of EGCG (856.8 mg per day from 3 capsules, each taken 30 minutes after a meal). Although weight decreased in the treated group by 2.4 lbs (and the researchers touted this in their conclusion), weight also decreased among those given placebo containing just cellulose and the treatment was actually not significantly more effective than the placebo (Chen, Clin Nutr 2015). Although no adverse effects were reported, liver enzymes increased in the treatment group, suggesting the potential for liver injury -- a known concern with green tea extracts (see Concerns and Cautions).

On the other hand, a study in sedentary overweight and obese men in England given decaffeinated green tea extract for 6 weeks showed weight loss of 1.4 lbs while men given placebo gained 1.2 lbs despite similar increases in caloric intake in both groups (Brown, Br J Nutr 2011). This study used 530 mg of extract in capsules given twice daily (providing 432 mg EGCG/day) -- one capsule was taken an hour before breakfast and the other was taken an hour before dinner. The amount of catechins in this daily dosage is comparable to that in about six to eight cups of moderate strength green tea.

Memory and Cognition:
Higher consumption of green tea has been associated with lower prevalence of cognitive impairment in older adults (Kuriyama, Am J Clin Nutr 2006). A study of green tea with added l-theanine, suggested that consumption improves memory and attention in subjects with mild cognitive impairments (Park, J Med Food 2011).

In addition, even "regular" tea consumption, especially of green tea, has been associated with reduced risk of cognitive decline among people with normal cognitive function. A 4-year study of 957 older Chinese men and women (average age 64) with normal cognitive function 
found that regular consumption of at least 1 cup of green tea per week (and, more typically, 1+ cups per day) lowered the risk of cognitive decline by 57% compared to non-regular tea drinkers. The risk was also reduced by 47% among black and/or oolong tea drinkers. Interestingly, people who drank a "medium" amount of tea (3 to 4 cups daily, including all types of tea) had a 64% reduction in risk, which was even more than for those who consumed a "high" amount of tea (5 or more cups daily), who had a 54% reduction, while "low" consumers (1 to 2 cups daily) had a 25% reduction. Among people at increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease due to having the ApoE4 gene, regular consumption of tea (green, black or oolong) reduced the risk of cognitive decline by 86% (Feng, J Nutr Health Aging 2016).

However, a study in Japan suggests that green tea may not help to improve cognition in people with more severe forms of cognitive impairment. In the study, elderly men and women (average age 84) with dementia (Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia or Lewy-body dementia) who consumed 2 grams of green tea powder daily (providing 220 mg of total catechins including 88 mg of EGCG — equivalent to approximately 2-4 cups of bottled or brewed green tea) found there was no improvement in cognitive function after one year compared to placebo (Yamada, Nutr J 2016).

Some excitement was generated by a Swiss study in 2014 reported by some news sources as showing that green tea helped improve working memory (i.e., short term storage and retrieval of information). Unfortunately, these accounts were exaggerated and misleading. This small study evaluated brain activity in young, healthy men after consuming a drink containing green tea extract or one without the extract (Schmidt, Psychopharm 2014). Although there was a strong trend toward improved task performance with the extract and enhanced parieto-frontal connectivity within the brain, the memory improvement was not statistically significant. In addition, the dose of green tea extract was enormous -- 27,500 milligrams, which is equivalent to about 80 cups of green tea or about 50 doses of a typical green tea extract supplement. Although the amount of EGCG was not noted in the study, the drink contained approximately 13,750 grams of polyphenols and roughly half that would be expected to be EGCG, or about 7,000 mg — also an enormous amount. Most notably, the amount of caffeine in the supplement was reported to be approximately 5 to 10% of the extract. This equates to 1,375 mg to 2,750 mg of caffeine -- the equivalent of drinking about 14 to 28 cups of coffee at one time. The caffeine, itself, may have played an important role in the results. Such as dose of green tea extract would not be recommended and, interestingly, the study failed to mention whether adverse effects occurred. 

Dental health:
Polyphenols in green tea may inhibit the build-up of dental plaque by preventing oral bacteria from feeding on sugar in the mouth (Koo, Eur J Pharmacol 2004). In addition, one small clinical study found that when adults rinsed for one minute with 10 ml (about 2 teaspoons) of either brewed green tea, chlorhexidine (a prescription antibacterial mouthwash) or water, those who rinsed with green tea or chlorhexidine had, respectively, 16% and 17% lower counts of decay-causing bacteria (Streptococcus mutans), than before rinsing (Neturi, J Clin Diagn Res 2014). Those who rinsed with water had no significant change in bacterial counts. The green tea was prepared with 2 grams of fresh green tea packed in a tea bag (see the Results table below for brewable green teas providing similar amounts) and steeped in 100 ml (about 3. 5 oz) warm water for 5 minutes; the amount of polyphenols in this preparation was not indicated. The study also did not indicate the temperature of rinses, which could have affected results if the tea was warm but the water was not.

For more about studies of green tea and its other potential uses, see the Green Tea article in the Encyclopedia on this website.

Quality Concerns and What CL Tested for:
Neither the FDA nor any other federal or state agency routinely tests supplements or beverages for quality prior to sale. However, quality issues can include the following:
  • Labeled Amount Does the product really contain the labeled amount of ingredient? Too little may not work. Too much may cause toxicity (see Cautions and Concerns). Confirming the amount of green tea in supplements and beverages involves measuring green tea catechins, including EGCG. (Some products list amounts of a broader group of compounds, polyphenols, but tests for polyphenols are less specific for green tea.)
  • Purity Is the product free of lead (a contaminant found in many types of botanical products)? [Note: Testing of matcha products (added in 2015) included tests for arsenic, cadmium, and pesticides.]
  • Caffeine While caffeine occurs naturally in green tea, levels may vary widely among different green tea supplements, beverages, and brewed teas, and these amounts are often not disclosed on labels. Because of caffeine's potential side effects -- and potential for increasing the side effects of other stimulants such as the synephrine in bitter orange -- it is useful to know the amount of caffeine in a daily dose.
ConsumerLab.com, as part of its mission to independently evaluate products that affect health, wellness, and nutrition, purchased commonly available green tea supplements, bottled drinks, brewable tea products (tea bags, loose tea, and K-Cup), and matcha powders and examined them to determine their EGCG and total catechin content, as well as any amount of lead contamination (see Testing Methods and Passing Score). The amount of caffeine in each product was also determined and compared to the listed amount (if labeled). ConsumerLab.com typically tests supplements in tablet form for their ability to properly break apart (disintegrate) but none of the supplements in this review were tablets -- all were capsules.

What CL Found:
Green Tea Supplements:
Among the 8 green tea supplements selected by CL for testing, two failed to meet quality standards for the following reasons:

-- Enzymatic Therapy Green Tea Elite with EGCG contained only 22.2 mg of EGCG per two capsule daily serving. This was only 83.2% of the amount ConsumerLab.com expected based on the product's label and was also the smallest amount of EGCG in a daily serving of any product in the review. The label states that two capsules contain 200 mg of "Green Tea Leaf Phytosome" of which "one part" out of three is extract, and "40%" of this extract is EGCG; so 26.6 mg of EGCG was expected. The label claims that its phytosome formulation makes the product "2X as absorbable as regular green tea extracts," but even if this is correct, the product would still provide much less EGCG than any other product reviewed.

--- Omega Sports Green Tea contained only 38.3% of the 250 mg of EGCG claimed per capsule. Perhaps more disturbing was the unusually large amount of caffeine in the product -- 135.9 mg per capsule -- many times that of any other supplement reviewed. At the maximum suggested daily serving of 3 capsules, a consumer could unwittingly ingest over 400 mg of caffeine -- exceeding the amount of caffeine in four cups of regular brewed coffee. It is quite possible that caffeine was added to this product, although there is no mention of caffeine as an ingredient. The label also fails to properly list the plant species and part used and the ingredient from which the capsule is made, which is required by federal regulations. In addition to these other issues, a serving of 2 capsules contained 1 mcg of lead, exceeding the strict California Prop 65 limit of 0.5 mcg without a warning label. Omega Sports was the only product with this amount of lead and this may be attributable to the fact that it appears to have contained more whole green tea than the other products which were predominately extracts. (Extracts typically contain much lower amounts of heavy metals such as lead, due to the extraction process).

Among the 6 products which were Approved and five additional products which passed the same testing in ConsumerLab.com's Quality Certification Program, amounts of EGCG per suggested daily serving ranged from about 75 mg to 326.25 mg and averaged 188 mg. In comparison, a cup of brewed green tea in the U.S. contains about 20-80 mg of EGCG, depending on the tea, so most of these supplements provide amounts of EGCG comparable to at least two, if not more, cups of green tea. These amounts are, however, somewhat lower than those typically used in clinical trials of green tea extracts, which tend to range from about 300 to 400 mg. Although rare, it is worth noting that cases of liver toxicity have been reported with green tea extracts, particularly those providing several hundred milligrams per day of EGCG and other catechins (see Concerns and Cautions).

Caffeine in the quality-approved products ranged from none to 84 mg per daily serving (see fifth column of the table below). As a point of reference, one cup of coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine and a can of cola contains about 40 mg.

Getting EGCG at lowest cost from a supplement:
Comparing the cost of obtaining 200 mg of EGCG from the supplements showed the lowest cost to be 10 cents from NOW EGCg Green Tea Extract as well as from Trunature (Costco) Green Tea, which compares very favorably to costs of over one dollar to obtain the same amount of EGCG from some products. (See the last column of the table below for cost and price comparisons).

Bottled Green Tea:
Among the 4 bottled green tea products which CL selected for testing, none listed its amount of EGCG, except for Honest Tea Green Tea with Honey, which listed 190 mg of catechins per 16.9 fl oz bottle. Unfortunately, only 62.7% of that amount was found in testing. It is listed as "Not Approved" in the table below for failing to meet a label claim. Nevertheless, when comparing the amounts of EGCG across the products, based on a serving of 8 fl oz (one cup), Honest Tea contained the second highest amount -- 27.2 mg. Harney & Sons Organic Green had the most EGCG per 8 fl oz, at 46.8 mg. Arizona Green Tea -- Ginseng and Honey contained only 5.4 mg of EGCG and Diet Snapple Green Tea had the least EGCG per 8 fl oz serving -- 3.5 mg. As these products make no claim about their green tea contents, they received no overall rating from ConsumerLab.com.

Getting EGCG at lowest cost from bottled green tea:
Bottled green tea is an expensive way to get EGCG. Similar to the comparison above for green tea supplements, CL calculated the cost of getting 200 mg of EGCG from the drinks and found the lowest cost to be $4.45, from Harney & Sons Organic Green. The most expensive source, by far, was Diet Snapple Green Tea, for which you would have to spend over $70 and drink 28 bottles to get 200 mg of EGCG.

Brewable Green Tea From a Tea Bag, Loose Tea, or K-Cup:
As discussed above (What It Does), most studies of green tea are based on drinking brewed tea. ConsumerLab.com tested a variety of products from which tea may be brewed, including several popular brands of tea bags, a loose tea, and a K-Cup (tea leaves in a small sealed container to be brewed in a Keurig brewing machine).

Amount of tea leaf:
Before brewing, we weighed the amount of tea in a suggested serving of each product. These amounts varied considerably (see second column of table below). For example, among the tea bags, Lipton Green Tea contained the most tea leaf -- 1.79 grams, which was 30% more than that in Bigelow Green Tea, which contained the least (1.38 grams). The suggested serving of Teavana Green Tea Gyokuro, a loose tea, was 1 teaspoonful, which we found to contain 2.63 grams of tea leaf. A K-Cup of Celestial Seasonings Green Tea contained even more tea leaf (3.14 grams), but, according to its label, an undisclosed portion of this is white tea (added for smooth taste).

EGCG and total catechins:
The suggested serving sizes yielded an average of 53 mg of EGCG and 142 mg of total catechins. Consistent with its larger serving size, Teavana yielded the largest amounts of these compounds (86.0 mg and 249.1 mg, respectively), while Bigelow Green Tea provided the least (25.0 and 60.9 mg, respectively). It's interesting to note that the color of the brewed teas ranged from green to light brown (as noted in column two). Teas which more brown tasted more like regular black tea, but this was not necessarily an indication of the EGCG concentration.

Getting EGCG at lowest cost from a brewable tea:
As shown in the last column of the table below, the cost to obtain 200 mg of EGCG from these products ranged from a low of 27 cents from Lipton Green Tea to as much as $2.18 from Teavana Green Tea Gyokuro loose tea and $2.50 from Celestial Seasonings Green Tea with White Tea K-Cup. The particularly low price from Liptonis due to its low retail price and relatively high concentration of EGCG.

Caffeine:
Among the teas which were not decaffeinated, caffeine ranged from 22.7 mg to 39.7 mg per serving, excluding Teavana which contained much more caffeine, 85.8 mg, due, in part, to its larger serving size compared to the other green teas. The amount of caffeine in Teavana is comparable to that in a cup of regular coffee, while the amounts in the other products are comparable to, or lower than, that in a can of cola.

The two decaffeinated products, Bigelow Green Tea Naturally Decaffeinated and Salada Green Tea Naturally Decaffeinated, contained only 5 mg of caffeine per serving.

Some websites suggest that decaffeinated green tea contains lower amounts of EGCG and catechins. Our findings don't support this. In fact, Bigelow's Naturally Decaffeinated green tea had more than twice the EGCG as its regular caffeinated green tea. However, the type of decaffeination process used may matter. According to the websites of Bigelow and Salada, each uses carbon dioxide gas in combination with high pressure and temperature when removing caffeine from green tea. This process appears to help retain catechin compounds.

Lead:
The liquid portions of the teas brewed from the products contained very little lead, posing no health concern.

However, when we tested the brewed leaf material along with the liquid, we found between 2 to 5 mcg of lead per serving for four products. Only the two decaffeinated products and Teavana had lead levels below the measurable limit for the test (1.25 mcg per serving). [Note: Our tests of dietary supplements, e.g., pills, can detect lower amounts of lead in products, but the dilution of the tea raises the amount required for detection and accurate measurement.] Lower lead in the decaffeinated products may be due to removal of lead during the decaffeination process, while lower lead in Teavana may relate to that fact that it was from Japan while the other teas likely originated in China.

It is well established that tea leaves from particular areas (such as certain regions of China) contain substantial amounts of lead. In fact, one study found that 24% of green tea leaf samples in China exceeded 2 mcg of lead per gram (i.e., 3 mcg of lead per 1.5 gram), and even higher percentages of scented tea (32%), black tea (59%), and Oolong tea (53%) exceeded this level. In comparison, a study of green teas produced in Japan found no sample to exceed this level (Han, Environmental Pollution, 2006). The lead in green tea leaf is believed to come from industrial pollution of the soil and air, proximity to roadways (due to past use of leaded gasoline), and processing techniques. Most of the lead is contained within the leaves. Younger leaves, such as those used to make green tea, tend to contain less lead than older leaves, such as those used to make black and Oolong tea.

While there is little concern about lead contamination from these products when used as labeled, be aware that the tea leaves in some products, particularly those from certain parts of China and are not decaffeinated, contain significant amounts of lead. Being organic may not matter. Fortunately, brewing with a filter which holds back the leaves, such as a tea bag, K-Cup (which has an internal filter), or fine strainer, significantly reduces the lead content of brewed tea. In general, it would seem best not to swallow the leaf material in teas, unless you are confident of its purity.

Matcha Green Tea (From Tea Bags and Powders):
Another way of drinking green tea is as matcha — a fine, bright green powder made from young tea leaves grown in shade (which may increase chlorophyll production) with stems and veins removed. Matcha powder is mixed with hot, but not boiling, water, and whisked, typically with wooden chasen, into a slightly frothy smooth drink. Matcha is generally more expensive that brewable green tea, somewhat more time-consuming to prepare, and, traditionally, was reserved for tea ceremonies rather than daily consumption — and there has been little clinical research in humans with matcha. 

From a dietary standpoint, what sets matcha apart from brewed green tea is that you are consuming the leaf as opposed to discarding it. So what are you getting by, essentially, eating the leaf? More antioxidants? More contaminants? We purchased several matcha products to find out, including three matcha powders and two products in tea bags which include matcha. We tested matcha powders using the same method we use with herbal supplements, such as the green tea supplements above. We tested the matcha-containing tea bag products by seeping them in hot water, per their instructions, and testing the liquid tea.

Amount of tea leaf:
Before testing, we weighed the amount of tea in a suggested serving of each product. There were some surprises with the matcha powders. First, despite labels on all four powders indicating a serving to be "1 teaspoon," Teavana Imperial Matcha listed the weight of teaspoon as 3.5 grams, while Rishi Teahouse Matcha and Encha listed it as 2 grams. DöMatcha Organic Ceremonial Matcha didn't specifically list a weight, but claimed the container (1 oz or 28.3 grams) makes approximately 25 servings, so each serving would be just 1.1 grams! When we measured out a level teaspoon of each product, we found the weights to be 2.0 grams for Teavana, 1.7 grams for DöMatcha and Encha and 1.6 grams for Rishi. What does this mean? It means that Teavana is about 20% more dense than the other three (20% more matcha per teaspoon) and it also suggests that the labeling on DöMatcha is not correct — providing about 17 one-teaspoon servings rather than the listed 25. It also means that Teavana is likely suggesting that you use a heaping teaspoon, while Rishi and Encha are suggesting a rounded teaspoon. DöMatcha, on the other hand, appears to be doing its calculations on only 2/3 of a teaspoon.

The amount of tea in the tea-bag products were similar to what we reported for non-matcha green tea products sold in tea bags (see above). In Kirkland Signature™ Green Tea (A Blend of Sencha and Matcha) we found 1.6 grams of tea per tea bag, and in The Republic Tea® Double Green® Matcha Tea (Matcha Tea Powder with Green Tea Leaves) we found 1.5 grams.

EGCG and total catechins:
As shown in the 3rd column of the results table below, we found that the matcha powder providing the most EGCG per level teaspoon was Teavana (108.9 mg), followed by Encha Premium 1st Harvest Pure Organic Matcha (94.2 mg), DöMatcha (93.5 mg), and Rishi (82.4 mg). This is likely because Teavana was the most dense. When looking at EGCG per gram (as shown in bar chart below) rather than per teaspoon, DöMatcha and Encha actually had a somewhat greater concentration of EGCG than Teavana.

What was striking was the much smaller amount of EGCG from servings of the products in tea bags — which was only about one-quarter the amount of EGCG in servings of the matcha powders. Kirkland provided only 16.6 mg of EGCG and Republic provided only 20.2 mg. This was likely due to relatively short periods of time in which the bags were in water — Kirkland suggests only 20 to 30 seconds, while Republic suggests 1 to 3 minutes. In general, it takes about 3 minutes of seeping to maximize the amount of EGCG from green tea. In fact, our tests of other green tea products (above), which were brewed for 5 minutes, found Bigelow Green Tea Decaffeinated and Lipton Green Tea to yield concentrations of ECGG almost as high as those from the matcha powders.

Getting EGCG at lowest cost from matcha:
As shown in the last column of the table below, the cost to obtain 200 mg of EGCG from the tested matcha products ranged from $2.31 (Teavana) to $3.33 (DöMatcha). This includes the "matcha" products sold in tea bags which are much less expensive per serving (20 to 26 cents) compared to powdered matcha ($1.25 to $1.56 per level teaspoon) but yielded relatively little EGCG. This makes matcha a much more expensive a source of EGCG than other green tea product, including green tea sold in tea bags, such as Lipton Green Tea, from which you can get 200 mg of EGCG for just 27 cents.

Caffeine:
The matcha powders contained caffeine in significantly higher amounts than teas made from "matcha" tea bags. It is likely that much caffeine remained within the tea bags due to their short time in water and fact that tea bags may help retain caffeine. The amount of caffeine in a serving (one level teaspoon) of the matcha powders is about half the amount in a cup of brewed coffee.

Contaminants: Heavy Metals and Pesticides
In light of our finding significant amounts of lead in the tea leaf material of some of the brewable green teas (see above), we were particularly concerned about contamination in matcha powders, because the leaf material gets consumed. Fortunately, we did not find the matcha powders to be contaminated with heavy metals (lead, arsenic, and cadmium), nor with pesticides. This may be due to the fact that each was made with green tea from Japan, as opposed to China. Teas made from "matcha" tea bags were also not contaminated — however, only the liquid tea was tested, not the leaf remaining in the tea bags. 



Test Results by Product:
Listed below are the test results for 30 products: 13 supplements, 4 bottled green tea beverages, and 7 brewable green teas, and 6 matcha green teas. ConsumerLab.com selected 8 of the supplements, all of the bottled and brewable teas, and 5 of the matcha products. Six other supplements (each indicated with an asterisk) were tested at the request of their manufacturers/distributors through the Quality Certification Program and are included for having passed testing. Also listed are two products that are the same as one of the supplements which passed testing but are sold under different brand names.

Shown for each product are the claimed amounts of green tea as extract or herb as well as green tea components, such as polyphenols, catechins and/or EGCG. Products varied as to which of these amounts they listed, if any. As product quality was judged on catechin and/or EGCG levels, supplements which did not claim any level were held to minimum requirements (shown in the second column of the supplements table). Products listed as "Approved" met their label claims and ConsumerLab.com's quality criteria (see Passing Score). Approval did not apply to beverages or brewable teas, although one product was Not Approved as it failed to meet its label claim.

The full list of ingredients (including special dietary designations) is available for each supplement and beverage product by clicking on the word "Ingredients" in the first column.

CONSUMERLAB.COM RESULTS FOR GREEN TEA SUPPLEMENTS
Click on beneath a product name to find a vendor that sells it.
To find retailers that sell some of the listed products click here.
Product Name

Amount of Green Tea Per Unit, Suggested Daily Serving Size

(Click on "Ingredients" for Full List and Special Designations)
Claimed Amounts of EGCG and Other Components Per Daily Serving

(M) = Minimum Expected Amount of Catechins If Not Claimed
1
--TEST RESULTS--
Cost for Daily Suggested Serving on Label

[Cost per 200 mg EGCG]

Notable Additional Ingredients & Features
2

Price Paid
OVERALL RESULTS:

APPROVED
(Passed)
or
NOT APPROVED
(Failed)
Contained Expected Amounts of EGCG and Other Components Per Daily Serving
(as Listed in Second Column)
Caffeine Per Daily Serving
Did Not Exceed Contamination Limits for Lead
Andrew Lessman's Green Tea EGCG 200™ 
(Amount of green tea not listed, 200 mg EGCG per capsule, 1 or more per day)

Dist. by ProCaps® Laboratories 
Ingredients
200 mg EGCG3 APPROVED 4.4 mg caffeine found3
$0.33-$1.00

[$0.33]

Vitamin C

$59.90/180 capsules
Enzymatic Therapy® Green Tea Elite with EGCG 
(100 mg "Green Tea Leaf Phytosome™" [of which one part of three is extract] per veg capsule, 2 per day)4

Mfd. by Enzymatic Therapy, Inc.
Ingredients
26.6 mg EGCG4

40 mg polyphenols4
NOT APPROVED Found only 83.2% of expected EGCG -- 22.2 mg4 < 1 mg caffeine found
$0.38

[$2.83 based on amount claimed]4

[$3.41 based on amount found]

Vegetarian

$11.31/60 veg capsules
Gaia Herbs® Green Tea 
(100 mg herb and 110 mg extract per vegetarian liquid phyto-cap™, 4 per day) 

Dist. by Gaia Herbs® 
Ingredients

60 mg catechins (M)

600 mg polyphenols
APPROVED

Found 278.1 mg EGCG
and
433.7 mg catechins
54 mg caffeine found
$1.13

[$0.81 based on amount found]

100% Vegetarian, no gluten-containing ingredients

$16.99/60 vegetarian liquid phyto-caps™ 
Healthy Origins® Teavigo™ 
(150 mg extract per capsule, 2 per day)

Dist. by Healthy Origins® 
Ingredients

270 mg EGCG APPROVED

Met claim of "Caffeine Free"
$0.58

[$0.43]

Contains no wheat, gluten free, yeast free

$17.33/60 capsules
Life Extension® Mega Green Tea Extract
(725 mg extract per vegetarian capsule, 1 per day)

Mfd. by Quality Supplements and Vitamins, Inc.
Ingredients

326.25 mg EGCG

710.5 mg polyphenols
APPROVED
Met claim of 25 mg caffeine
$0.21

[$0.13]

Contains no wheat, gluten free, yeast free

$21.00/100 vegetarian capsules
Nature's Bounty® Standardized Green Tea Extract
(315 mg extract per capsule, 4 per day)*

Mfd. by Nature's Bounty, Inc.
Ingredients

126 mg catechins (M)

190 mg polyphenols
APPROVED

Found 105.6 mg EGCG
and
238 mg catechins
66.9 mg caffeine found
$0.44

[$1.65 based on amount found]

Contains no wheat, gluten free, yeast free

$21.79/100 capsules
New Chapter® Green & White Tea Force™
(500 mg green and white tea aqueous extracts per vegetarian capsule, 2 per day)*

Mfd. by New Chapter, Inc.
Ingredients

120 mg EGCG

200 mg polyphenol
APPROVED
Met claimed of 5% to 9% caffeine --found 59.1 mg
$0.73

[$1.21]

100% vegetarian, gluten free

$21.79/60 vegetarian capsules
NOW® EGCg Green Tea Extract 400 mg Vcaps
(400 mg extract and 50 mg decaffeinated green tea per Vcap®, 1 per day) 

Mfd. by Now Foods
Ingredients

200 mg EGCG

322 mg catechins5

392 mg polyphenols
APPROVED

Met claim of 4 mg
$0.10

[$0.10]
Lowest cost for EGCG

Contains no wheat, gluten free, yeast free

$8.99/90 Vcaps® 
Omega Sports® Green Tea 
(500 mg green tea [does not specify herb or extract] per capsule, 1 to 3 per day)

Dist. by Omega Sport, LLC
Ingredients
250 mg to 750 mg EGCG NOT APPROVED
FDA label violations: Fails to list plant species, plant part, and ingredients in capsule
Found only 38.3% of claimed EGCG
-- 95.7 mg per capsule
135.9 mg to 407.7 mg caffeine found
(Unusually high amount of caffeine)
Exceeds lead limit at 2 to 3 capsules per day
(found 1.0 to 1.5 mcg lead)
$0.07-$0.21
[$0.06 based on amount claimed]

[$0.15 based on amount found]

$6.95/100 capsules
Solgar® Green Tea Leaf Extract
(100 mg herb and 400 mg extract per vegetarian capsules, 1 to 2 per day)*

Mfd. by Solgar Vitamin and Herb
Ingredients

44 mg to 88 mg catechins (M)

200 mg to 400 mg polyphenols
APPROVED

Found 78.8 mg to 157.6 mg EGCG
and
150.7 mg to 301.4 mg catechins
41.9 mg to 83.7 mg caffeine found
$0.21 to 0.42

[$0.53 based on amount found]

Kosher, suitable for vegetarians, contains no wheat, gluten free, yeast free

$12.48/60 vegetarian capsules
Swanson® Superior Herbs Green Tea Extract
(50 mg of herb and 500 mg extract per capsule, 1 to 2 per day)*

Dist. Swanson Health Products
Ingredients

52 mg to 104 mg catechins (M)

300 mg to 600 mg polyphenols
APPROVED
Found 89.5 mg to 179.0 mg EGCG
and
171.6 mg to 343.2 mg catechins
30.2 to 60.4 mg caffeine found
$0.09-$0.18

[$0.20 based on amount found]

$5.49/60 capsules
Trunature® (Costco) Green Tea 400 mg
(400 mg extract per vegetarian capsule, 1 per day)

Dist. by Costco Wholesale Corporation
Ingredients
200 mg EGCG

334 mg catechins

356 mg polyphenols
APPROVED 24.4 mg caffeine found
$0.10

[$0.10]
Lowest cost for EGCG

$20.99/200 vegetarian capsules
The Vitamin Shoppe® Green Tea Extract
(220 mg herb and 250 extract per capsule, 1 to 2 per day)*

Dist. by The Vitamin Shoppe® 
Ingredients

75 mg to 150 mg EGCG

187.5 to 375 mg polyphenols
APPROVED 16.6 mg to 33.2 mg caffeine found
$0.13-$0.27

[$0.36]

Contains no wheat, yeast free

$13.49/100 capsules
Similar to Approved Products:**
Puritan's Pride Standardized Green Tea Extract
(4 capsules per day)

Mfd. by Puritan's Pride, Inc.

Ingredients
Similar to Nature's Bounty Standardized Green Tea Extract
Vitamin World Standardized Green Tea Extract
(4 capsules per day)

Mfd. by Vitamin World, Inc.

Ingredients
Similar to Nature's Bounty Standardized Green Tea Extract
*Tested through CL's Voluntary Certification Program prior to, at time of, or after initial posting of this Product Review.
** Product identical in formulation and manufacture to a product that has passed testing but sold under a different brand. For more information see CL's Multi-Label Testing Program.

1 (M) Minimum amount of total catechins expected is 10% of green tea extract by weight and 4% of green tea herb (non-extract) by weight.
2 Not tested but claimed on label.
3 Label suggests "one or more" per day. Amounts shown in table are based on one capsule.
4 Label describes "Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) Leaf Phytosome™" as "One part Green Tea Extract, standardized to contain 60% polyphenols and 40% epigallocatechin-3-0-gallate (EGCG), bound to two parts phosphatidylcholine (soy)". 
5 Amount shown for catechins is based on label information for the extract plus a smaller minimum expected amount (2 mg) contributed by the decaffeinated green tea ingredient..
Unless otherwise noted, information about the products listed above is based on the samples purchased by ConsumerLab.com (CL) for this Product Review. Manufacturers may change ingredients and label information at any time, so be sure to check labels carefully when evaluating the products you use or buy. If a product's ingredients differ from what is listed above, it may not necessarily be of the same quality as what was tested.

The information contained in this report is based on the compilation and review of information from product labeling and analytic testing. CL applies what it believes to be the most appropriate testing methods and standards. The information in this report does not reflect the opinion or recommendation of CL, its officers or employees. CL cannot assure the accuracy of information.
Copyright ConsumerLab.com, LLC, 2013. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced, excerpted, linked to, or cited in any fashion without the express written permission of ConsumerLab.com LLC.


CONSUMERLAB.COM RESULTS FOR GREEN TEA BEVERAGES
Click on beneath a product name to find a vendor that sells it.
To find retailers that sell some of the listed products click here.
Product Name, Unit Type. And Suggested Serving Size

(Click on "Ingredients" for Full List and Special Designations)
Claimed Amount of Green Tea Components Per Serving:

Calories Per Serving

Sweeteners
--TEST RESULTS--
Cost for Suggested Serving on Label

[Cost per 200 mg EGCG]

Notable Additional Ingredients & Features1

Price Paid
OVERALL RESULTS:

APPROVED
(Passed)
or
NOT APPROVED
(Failed)
Contained Expected Amounts of EGCG and Other Components
Per Serving
(as Listed in Second Column)
Contained Claimed Amount of Caffeine Per Serving
Did Not Exceed Contamination Limits for Lead
Green Tea Beverages:
Arizona® Green Tea -- Ginseng & Honey (8 fl. oz. serving size) 

Dist. by Arizona Beverages USA LLC
Ingredients
NL

70 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving

Sweetened with high fructose corn syrup
NA Found 5.4 mg EGCG per 8 fl. oz.

Found 14.4 mg catechins per 8 fl. oz.
Not listed.

Found 8.4 mg caffeine per 8 fl. oz.
$0.40

[$14.81 based on amount found]

$2.09/1 bottle
(42 fl. oz.)
Harney & Sons Organic Green (8 fl. oz. serving size)

Dist. by Harney & Sons Fine Teas
Ingredients
NL

20 calories per 8 fl. oz. serving

Sweetened with organic cane sugar and organic honey
NA
Found 46.8 mg EGCG per 8 fl. oz.

Found 92.4 mg catechins per 8 fl. oz.
Not listed.

Found 37.0 caffeine mg per 8 fl. oz.

$1.39

[$4.45 based on amount found]
  Lowest cost for EGCG among bottled teas


$2.08/1 bottle
(16 fl. oz.)

Honest Tea® Green Tea with Honey (190 mg total catechins per bottle, 16.9 fl. oz. serving size) 
Ingredients
190 mg catechins per 16.9 fl. oz. serving
(89.9 mg catechins per 8 fl. oz.)

70 calories per 16.9 fl. oz. serving
(33.1 calories per 8 fl. oz.)

Sweetened with organic cane sugar and organic honey
NOT
APPROVED
Found only 62.7% of listed catechins (119.2 mg per 16.9 fl. oz.)

Found 57.5 mg EGCG per 16.9 fl. oz.)
27.2 mg EGCG per 8 fl. oz.

Claimed 70 mg caffeine per bottle (33.1 mg caffeine per 8 fl. oz.)
$1.75

[$6.09 based on amount found]

$1.75/1bottle
(16.9 fl. oz.)
Diet Snapple® Green Tea (8 fl. oz. serving size)

Dist. by Snapple Beverage Corp.
Ingredients
NL

0 Calories per serving

Sweetened with sucralose, sugar and acesulfame potassium
NA Found 3.5 mg EGCG per 8 fl. oz.

Found 11.5 mg catechins per 8 fl. oz.
Not listed.

Found 12.3 mg caffeine per 8 fl. oz.
$1.25

[$71.72 based on amount found]

Kosher

$2.49/1 bottle
(16 fl.oz.)
Unless otherwise noted, information about the products listed above is based on the samples purchased by ConsumerLab.com (CL) for this Product Review. Manufacturers may change ingredients and label information at any time, so be sure to check labels carefully when evaluating the products you use or buy. If a product's ingredients differ from what is listed above, it may not necessarily be of the same quality as what was tested.

The information contained in this report is based on the compilation and review of information from product labeling and analytic testing. CL applies what it believes to be the most appropriate testing methods and standards. The information in this report does not reflect the opinion or recommendation of CL, its officers or employees. CL cannot assure the accuracy of information.
Copyright ConsumerLab.com, LLC, 2013. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced, excerpted, linked to, or cited in any fashion without the express written permission of ConsumerLab.com LLC.


CONSUMERLAB.COM RESULTS FOR GREEN TEA FROM TEA BAGS, LOOSE TEA, K-CUP
Click on beneath a product name to find a vendor that sells it.
To find retailers that sell some of the listed products click here.
Product Name

Serving Size on Label
Amount of Tea Leaf Found in Serving
(Grams)

Color and Taste of Brewed Tea
--TEST RESULTS PER SERVING--
Cost Per Serving

[Cost per 200 mg EGCG]

Notable Additional Ingredients & Features1

Price Paid
Amounts EGCG and Catechins Found per Serving of Brewed Tea
Caffeine Found per Serving of Brewed Tea
Less Than 1.25 mcg Lead in Serving of Brewed Tea (Liquid Without Leaf)
Green Tea From Tea Bag:
Bigelow Green Tea
(1 tea bag)

Dist. by R.C. Bigelow, Inc
1.38 g

Light brown

Similar taste to black tea
25.0 mg EGCG

60.9 mg total catechins
22.7 mg

[If leaf included, 2.1 mcg of lead]
$0.08

[$0.62]

Kosher

$3.12/40 tea bags
Bigelow Green Tea-Certified 100% Organic
(1 tea bag)

Dist. by R.C. Bigelow, Inc
1.49 g

Light yellow-green

Milder than black tea
42.1 mg EGCG

116.0 mg total catechins
24.4 mg

[If leaf included, 2.5 mcg of lead]
$0.13

[$0.60]

100% organic, Kosher

$5.09/40 tea bags
Bigelow Green Tea-Naturally Decaffeinated
(1 tea bag)

Dist. by R.C. Bigelow, Inc
1.43 g

Light brown

Similar taste to black tea
57.3 mg EGCG

157.6 mg total catechins
5.2 mg

[If leaf included, still less than 1.25 mcg of lead]
$0.15

[$0.52]

Naturally decaffeinated

Kosher, gluten free

$2.99/20 tea bags
Lipton Green Tea
(1 tea bag)

Dist. by Unilever
1.79 g

Light brown-green

Taste like a light black tea
71.1 mg EGCG

188.1 mg total catechins
39.7 mg

[If leaf included, 2.4 mcg of lead]
$0.10

[$0.27]
Lowest cost for EGCG among tea bag producs

$3.93/40 tea bags
Salada Green Tea Naturally Decaffeinated
(1 tea bag)

Dist. by Salada Foods Division
1.53 g

Light brown

Similar taste to black tea
36.5 mg EGCG

90.2 mg total catechins
5.1 mg

[If leaf included, still less than 1.25 mcg of lead]
$0.09

[$0.52]

Naturally decaffeinated

$3.79/40 tea bags
Green Tea From Loose Tea:
Teavana Green Tea Gyokuro Imperial
(1 tsp.)

Dist. by Teavana
2.63 g

Light green

Stronger, grassier taste than the other teas
86.0 mg EGCG

249.0 mg total catechins

85.8 mg

[If leaf included, still less than 1.25 mcg of lead]
$0.94

[$2.18]

$20/ 56 g (2 oz) package of loose tea
Green Tea From K-Cup:
Celestial Seasonings Green Tea with White Tea For Smooth Taste
(1 K-Cup)

Dist. by Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
3.14 g

Light brown

Lighter, more mellow flavor than the other teas
53.2 mg EGCG

134.7 mg total catechins

39.2 mg

[If leaf included, 5.2 mcg of lead]
$0.67

[$2.50]

Includes some white tea

$15.99/24 K-Cups
Unless otherwise noted, information about the products listed above is based on the samples purchased by ConsumerLab.com (CL) for this Product Review. Manufacturers may change ingredients and label information at any time, so be sure to check labels carefully when evaluating the products you use or buy. If a product's ingredients differ from what is listed above, it may not necessarily be of the same quality as what was tested.

The information contained in this report is based on the compilation and review of information from product labeling and analytic testing. CL applies what it believes to be the most appropriate testing methods and standards. The information in this report does not reflect the opinion or recommendation of CL, its officers or employees. CL cannot assure the accuracy of information.
Copyright ConsumerLab.com, LLC, 2013. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced, excerpted, linked to, or cited in any fashion without the express written permission of ConsumerLab.com LLC.


RESULTS OF CONSUMERLAB.COM TESTING OF MATCHA GREEN TEA FROM TEA BAGS AND POWDERS
Click on beneath a product name to find a vendor that sells it.
To find retailers that sell some of the listed products click here.
Product Name and Serving Size on Label

Click on "Ingredients" for Full Listing

Amount of Matcha Per Serving

Brewing Directions

Color and Taste of Tea Produced 

--TEST RESULTS-- Cost Per Serving*

[Cost per 200 mg EGCG]

Other Notable Features1

Price Paid
Amounts EGCG and Catechins Found per Serving of Brewed Matcha Caffeine Found per Serving of Brewed Matcha Did Not Exceed Conta-mination Limits
(Lead, Arsenic, Cadmium, and Pesticides)
Matcha Powder:
DoMatcha® Organic Ceremonial Matcha (1 tsp.)

Dist. by Andrews & George Company Limited  
Ingredients

1.7 g found per level teaspoon, but claims "Approx. 25 servings" per ounce. As 1 ounce equals 28.3 g, this suggests 1.1 g per serving which is only 2/3 teaspoon.

Add 2 to 3 oz pre-boiling water (175°F) to 1 tsp, add more water to taste. 

Like other matcha powders -- deep vibrant green, opaque. Smooth, mild grassy flavor  

Based on 1 level teaspoon:*

93.5 mg EGCG

191.25 mg total catechins
52.7 mg caffeine* $1.56/tsp*

[$3.33]

Kosher, organic

$25.95/1 oz. [28.3 g] container (approx. 25 servings)
Note: Appears to be based on only 2/3 teaspoon serving. If 1 tsp per serving, only 17 servings.
Encha Premium 1st Harvest Pure Organic Matcha (1 tsp.)2

Dist. by Encha Life
Ingredients
1.7 g found per level teaspoon, but listed as 2 g, suggesting a "rounded" teaspoon.
Claims to contain:
total catechins: 240 mg (per 2 g)
caffeine: 64 mg (per 2 g)

Add 1 tsp (2 bamboo scoops) to 5 oz water at 160°F.

Like other matcha powders -- deep vibrant green, opaque. Smooth, mild grassy flavor
Based on 1 level teaspoon:*

94.2 mg EGCG

181.9 mg total catechins
53.4 mg caffeine* $1.41/tsp*

[$3.00]

Organic

$24.95/1.06 oz. [30 g] container (approx. 15 servings)
Note: Appears to be based on a "rounded" teaspoon serving.
Rishi® Teahouse Matcha (Organic Matcha Green Tea) (1 tsp.)

Dist. by Rishi Tea Milwaukee
Ingredients

1.6 g found per level teaspoon, but listed as 2 g, suggesting a "rounded" teaspoon.

Like other matcha powders -- deep vibrant green, opaque. Smooth, mild grassy flavor

Based on 1 level teaspoon:*

82.4 mg EGCG

162.4 mg total catechins


*Note: Amounts will be higher if using a 2 gram serving
55.8 mg caffeine* $1.09/tsp*

[$2.64]

Kosher, organic

$13.60/0.70 oz. [20 g] container (approx. 10 servings)
Note: Appears to be based on a "rounded" teaspoon serving.
Teavana Imperial Matcha (Organic) (1 tsp.)

Dist. by Teavana
Ingredients
2.0 g found per level teaspoon, but listed as 3.5 g, suggesting a "heaping" teaspoon and a more dense powder than others.  

No directions listed

Like other matcha powders -- deep vibrant green, opaque. Smooth, mild grassy flavor  
Based on 1 level teaspoon*

108.9 mg EGCG

192 mg total catechins

*Note: Amounts will be higher if using a 3.5 gram serving
72.3 mg caffeine*

$1.25/tsp*

[$2.31]
Lowest cost for EGCG among matcha products

Kosher, organic

$24.95/1.4 oz. [40 g] container (approx. 11 servings)
Note: Appears to be based on a "heaping" teaspoon serving

Matcha From Tea Bag:
Kirkland Signature™ Green Tea (A Blend of Sencha and Matcha) (1 tea bag)

Dist. by Costco Wholesale Corporation
Ingredients
1.6 g found in tea bag including matcha powder from envelope

Place tea bag in hot water (176°F), after 20 to 30 seconds shake tea bag in water 3 to 4 times, empty remaining matcha from outer envelope to surface of tea  

Light green, clear, with small amount of powder settling at bottom of cup. Mild, grassy flavor
16.6 mg EGCG

52.4 mg total catechins
10.0 mg $0.20

[$2.39]

$19.79/100 tea bags
The Republic Tea® Double Green® Matcha Tea (Matcha Tea Powder with Green Tea Leaves) (1 tea bag)

Dist. by The Republic of Tea
Ingredients
1.5 g found in tea bag

Heat water to just short of boiling, place tea bag in water for 1 to 3 minutes

Yellow-green, clear. Slightly oxidized, fishy taste.
20.2 mg EGCG

57.4 mg total catechins
12.0 mg $0.26

[$2.57]

Organic China green tea and organic Japanese matcha, non-GMO, gluten free

$13.00/50 tea bags

Tested through CL's Quality Certification Program prior to, or after initial posting of this Product Review.

* For comparison purposes, calculations for loose matcha are based on 1 "level" teaspoon of each matcha powder. However, information on labels indicates different weights for 1 teaspoon, as noted above, possibly due to how it is filled (e.g., leveled, rounded, or heaped) as well as the density of the powder.  
1 Not tested but claimed on label.
2 Product added on 6/10/2016.

Unless otherwise noted, information about the products listed above is based on the samples purchased by ConsumerLab.com (CL) for this Product Review. Manufacturers may change ingredients and label information at any time, so be sure to check labels carefully when evaluating the products you use or buy. If a product's ingredients differ from what is listed above, it may not necessarily be of the same quality as what was tested.

The information contained in this report is based on the compilation and review of information from product labeling and analytic testing. CL applies what it believes to be the most appropriate testing methods and standards. The information in this report does not reflect the opinion or recommendation of CL, its officers or employees. CL cannot assure the accuracy of information.
Copyright ConsumerLab.com, LLC, 2015. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced, excerpted, or cited in any fashion without the express written permission of ConsumerLab.com LLC.


ConsumerTips™ :
What to Consider When Buying:
To compare green tea products, it is helpful to look for ones that state the amount of "EGCG"-- although not all labels provide this information. More broadly, you may see the term "catechins" which includes EGCG and related compounds (catechin, epigallocatechin, epicatechin, gallocatechin gallate, epicatechin gallate and catechin gallate). These compounds are anti-oxidants and may help explain the link between green tea consumption and any potential health benefits. Catechins are themselves part of a larger class of compounds called "polyphenols" another term that you might see on labels but is more vague. In a ConsumerLab.com review of products in 2009, one product used the term "catechins/polyphenols," making it difficult to know the expected amount of catechins. In that case, it turned out that only about half of the listed amount was specifically catechins.

Should you get green tea from matcha, brewed tea, supplements, or bottled beverages?
As seen in this Review, levels of EGCG (as well as total catechins) can vary greatly among supplements (22 mg to 326 mg per daily serving), bottled teas (4 mg to 47 mg per serving), teas which you brew (25 mg to 86 mg per serving), and matcha from a tea bag (17 mg to 20 mg) or from powder (82 mg to 109 mg level teaspoon serving). In general, supplements can efficiently provide the largest amounts (hundreds of milligrams) of these compounds, and matcha powders and some green teas can provide about 40 to 100 mg of EGCG per serving. A one cup serving of certain bottled green tea products (such as that tested from Harney & Sons) can provide just as much in the way of green tea compounds as most brewed green teas in the U.S., but others, like Diet Snapple Green Tea, may provide little. Bottled green teas also tend to contain sweeteners and other ingredients you may not want.

Looking specifically at brewed teas, a study of commercially available green teas in the U.S. found that brewing 1.5 grams (about 1 tea bag) of green tea for 5 minutes in 250 ml (about 1 cup) in hot (recently boiled) water, yielded an enormous range of catechins (about 15 to 85 mg for most products), EGCG (10 to 40 mg for most), and caffeine (5 to 20 mg for most) (Friedman, 2005 J Food Sci -- This article is free online and includes results for 24 products). The researchers also experimented with brewing times from 3 minutes to 20 minutes and found no significant difference in levels of tea compounds, i.e., it is not necessary to steep tea for more than 3 minutes. A problem with this study, however, is that it used a nylon filter prior to analysis which, we found, appears to hold back EGCG and other catechins (perhaps due to ionic binding to the nylon), suggesting that the reported levels are lower than actual levels.

A study in Great Britain found generally higher amounts of catechins in green tea. In that study, three cups of green tea (2 grams of tea brewed for 5 minutes in 200 mL of water) provided, on average, about 400 mg of catechins (Khokhar, 2002), i.e., 133 mg per serving. These levels are more consistent with those which we found. In the same British study, black tea provided, on average, 31 mg per serving -- about one-quarter the amount of catechins as in the green tea. 

White tea (which is made from the same type of leaf as green tea but picked at a less mature stage) tends to provide comparable amounts of catechins to green tea when brewed -- although potentially large variations can occur from product to product and studies have differed on whether white or green teas have the highest levels. Interestingly, one study showed green tea to have significantly higher overall antioxidant activity than white tea, presumably due to the presence of antioxidant compounds other than catechins, such as flavanol glycosides (Uchenna, J Food Sci 2010). White tea generally provides less caffeine than green tea, as well as lower amounts of lead
.  

Some matcha products claim that they provide "137" times the EGCG that you get from brewed green tea. This is not correct. The "137" figure seems to originate from a small study comparing EGCG in a single brand of matcha to that in a single brand of green tea (Weiss, J Chromatogr A 2003). That study found that each gram of matcha contained 57.4 mg of EGCG, while each gram of water-brewed green tea leaf yielded only 0.42 mg of EGCG. This finding for brewed green tea seems erroneous — it is about 100 times lower than what ConsumerLab.com and many other researchers have found testing a wide range of brewed green teas. ConsumerLab.com has found that each gram of green tea leaf will provide approximately 20 to 40 mg of EGCG when brewed, although this varies by brand. Consequently, a cup of brewed green tea will provide about 30 to 60 mg of EGCG, while a cup of tea from powdered matcha will provide about 80 to 110 mg of EGCG (per level teaspoon). 

What to Consider When Using:
It is difficult to say what amount green tea or its constituent compounds may be effective for cardiovascular disease, preventing cancer, diabetes, or weight loss, but the following studies provide some guidance (see What It Does for more information):

Cardiovascular Disease:
Most studies have found an association between consuming 3 to 5 cups of green tea daily and reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Some evidence suggests that increasing intake by 1 cup/day is associated with a 10% decreased risk of developing coronary artery disease (Wang, Am J Clin Nutr 2011).

Cholesterol-lowering benefits of green tea have also been shown, but further benefit is not seen with doses over 625 mg of green tea catechins (Zheng, Am J Clin Nutr 2011).

Cancer Prevention:
Among men with precancerous prostate lesions, the following appeared to significantly reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer: 600 mg of a highly concentrated green tea extract per day (as three 200 mg capsules) providing a total of 454 mg of total catechins, of which 311 mg was EGCG (Bettuzzi, Cancer Res 2006). A study in a similar group of men using a different extract (Polyphenon E [Mitsui Norin, Japan] — a proprietary mixture of green tea catechins providing 400 mg of EGCG per day), showed lower rates of cancer among those taking the extract but the results were not statistically significant (Kumar, Canc Prev Res 2015).

Some studies suggest that drinking 2 to 3 cups or more of green tea daily might provide protection against some forms of cancer.

Fibroids:
A study found that giving 800 mg of green tea extract (45% EGCG) daily after meals significantly reduced the size of uterine fibroids in women, as well as symptoms and anemia (Roshdy, Int J Wom Health 2013).

Diabetes:
Some studies suggest that drinking 3 or more cups of black or green tea daily is associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (Huxley, Arch Intern Med 2009).

Weight Loss:
Green tea extracts which include caffeine may be effective, at least short-term, for weight loss. Decaffeinated products have generally not been effective, although one study in obese men given 530 mg of decaffeinated green tea extract in capsules twice daily (providing 432 mg EGCG/day) showed a benefit. One capsule was taken an hour before breakfast and the other was taken an hour before dinner (Brown, Br J Nutr 2011).

Don't take with iron?
A study in mice indicated that iron can bind to the EGCG in green tea, causing EGCG it to lose its anti-oxidant activity (Yeoh, Am J Path 2016, related news release). To avoid this problem, the researchers suggested that people should not consume green tea around the time of consuming iron-rich foods, such as red meat and dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, or with iron-containing supplements. However, the study used a very high ratio of iron to EGCG, which ConsumerLab.com calculates to be equivalent to ingesting 73 mg of iron (as in 12 full steaks or 90 cups of fresh spinach) for every 100 mg of EGCG (as in about 2 cups of green tea). Therefore, it's hard to say if this is a significant problem when eating a normal meal which might, at most, contain about 10 mg of iron.


Concerns and Cautions:
Green tea contains a significant amount of caffeine and can cause caffeine-related side effects and interfere with drugs that are MAO inhibitors. Even products listed as "decaffeinated" may contain up to 2% caffeine, and "caffeine free" products can contain small amounts. To help those sensitive to caffeine, we measured caffeine in the products and the results are shown in the results tables above.

Green tea, as well as black tea, contains a small amount of fluoride. Excess fluoride can cause teeth and bones to become brittle (a condition called "fluorosis"). This is unlikely to occur with consumption of just a few cups of tea daily, but has occurred in people habitually consuming very large amounts of tea, providing approximately 20 mg or more of fluoride daily. A case was reported of a woman who consumed a pitcher of tea daily made with 100 to 150 tea bags. Because of brittleness, all her teeth were extracted and she experienced pain in her lower back, arms, legs and hips. Symptoms improved after discontinuing tea consumption (Kakumanu, NEJM 2013). Similar cases have been reported, including that of a women who consumed one or more pitchers of tea daily (each pitcher made with 7 double tea bags) and two cases of women consuming one to two gallons daily of instant tea (Izuora, JCEM 2011). (Note: Although green tea extract supplements are concentrated forms of green tea, there are no published reports of fluorosis from green tea supplements, likely because the common extraction process (using alcohol) would not concentrate fluoride. A water-based extraction method could, however, concentrate fluoride.)

Cancer patients taking proteasome inhibitors such as bortezomib (BZM), which is used to treat multiple myeloma, should be aware that EGCG and other polyphenols in green tea may block the action of these drugs and negate their therapeutic efficacy. Green tea should not be used when taking boronic acid-based proteasome inhibitors such as BZM, MG-262, and PS-IX (Golden, Blood 2009).

Green tea has been shown to reduce the absorption of the beta-blocker nadolol (Corgard), as demonstrated in a study of young Japanese adults who consumed 700 mL (equal to 3 cups) of a green tea drink daily (providing a total of 322 mg of EGCG). After two weeks of consuming the green tea drink, they were given a dose of nadolol (30 mg) along with the drink and, 30 minutes later, a second large cup of the drink. This resulted in blood plasma levels of nadolol 85% lower than when the same two-week experiment was conducted with just water instead of green tea (Misaka, Clin Pharm & Therapeut 2013), and the effect of nadolol on systolic blood pressure was also significantly reduced. This may be due to an inhibitory effect of green tea catechins, such as EGCG, on the OATP1A2 drug transporter in the small intestine, which is also known to be inhibited by certain fruit juices, such as grapefruit juice. It is possible that other drugs which rely on this transporter may be affected by green tea, but this has not been studied.

Women who are attempting to conceive or are in their first trimester of pregnancy should avoid large amounts of green tea. Preliminary evidence suggests that increasing maternal tea consumption is associated with increased risk of spina bifida in infants (Correa, 2000). Catechins in tea may inhibit the conversion of folic acid into its active folate form, which is needed for normal spinal cord development. Women who are nursing should also avoid large amounts of green tea in order to limit caffeine exposure to infants.

People who are prone to kidney stones are sometimes advised to avoid tea because it contains oxalate (a substance which can bind with calcium to form calcium oxalate kidney stones — the most common type of kidney stone) (Massey, J Am Diet Assoc 1993). However, this does not appear to be a concern with green tea because green tea contains significantly lower amounts of oxalate than black tea — an average of 0.68 mg/g of green tea versus 1.5 to 6.9 mg/g of black tea (Charrier, Asia Pacific J Clin Nutr 2002). [Note: Adding milk to black tea may reduce the amount of oxalate that is absorbed. In fact, some experts have concluded that, overall, consuming either green tea or black tea with milk may be helpful for people with a history of kidney stones (Charrier, Asia Pacific J Clin Nutr 2002). In addition, keeping steeping time to a minimum (3 to 5 minutes) and avoiding vigorous stirring may also reduce the amount of oxalate coming from brewed black tea (McKay, J Am Diet Assoc 1995; Mahdavi, Urolithiasis 2013)]. Furthermore, there is some evidence that green tea may actually inhibit the formation of oxalate crystals: In animal studies, green tea, and in particular, EGCG from green tea, has been shown to reduce kidney stone formation (Chen, CrystEngComm 2010; Itoh, J Urol 2005; Jeong, J Endourol 2006). Interestingly, observational studies have reported a decreased risk of kidney stone formation of 8% and 14%, respectively, in women and men without a history of kidney stones who drink 2 to 3 cups of tea (the type of tea, i.e., black or green, and use of milk in tea not reported) per day (Curhan, Ann Intern Med 1998; Curhan, Am J Epidemiol 1996).

Liver toxicity has been associated with green tea extract supplements. There are reports of several cases of toxicity beginning from five days to four months after beginning use. Liver function returned to normal in most cases after discontinuation. However, one patient required a liver transplant; the specific extract taken in this case (Exolise from Arkopharma) is reported to have been removed from the market. It is possible that certain extraction processes used in the production of green tea extracts and supplements, such as ethanolic extraction, may contribute toxic compounds to these products. It is also possible that the green tea catechins themselves are a cause of toxicity as there appears to be an association of liver injury with higher daily intakes of green tea extract (LiverTox, NIH, 2013). A case of acute liver failure reported in 2013 involved a 16-year old male using Applied Nutrition Green Tea Fat Burner. He took 2 pills daily providing a high dose of EGCG (400 mg), although he was also using a protein powder, a high-dose multivitamin, and a cactus supplement (World J Gastroent 2013).

One case of acute hepatitis associated with drinking 3 cups of a Chinese brewable green tea (sold as tea bags) daily for 3 months has been reported (Lugg, BMJ Case Rep 2015). A small number of cases of toxicity have been reported with drinking green tea "infusions."

Several U.S. government agencies sponsored a study of the safety of green tea extract given to over 1,000 postmenopausal women at risk for breast cancer. Twice a day for a year, women in the study took 2 capsules with both morning and evening meals, providing a total of 1,315 mg of catechins, of which 843 mg was EGCG (equivalent to about 4 cups of green tea), or a placebo. There was no statistically significant difference in the overall incidence of adverse events between the two groups, but women in the extract group were more likely to experience nausea and skin rashes/allergies and less likely to report diarrhea. In addition, 6.7% of the extract group, but only 0.7% of placebo group, experienced elevations in liver enzymes — a sign of liver injury -- and these elevations tended to be greater in the extract group. Enzyme levels returned to normal with discontinuation of the extract in all but one person. The researchers noted that "Though green tea has typically been associated with antioxidant effects, recent evidence has demonstrated a strong pro-oxidant effect of green tea catechins (especially EGCG) that can cause hepatotoxicity when administered in high doses." (Dostal, Food Chem Tox 2015).

The American College of Gastroenterology's clinical guideline for diagnosing and treating drug-induced liver injury, published in 2014, lists green tea extract as one of the most common dietary supplements linked to liver injury and stresses the importance of patients experiencing symptoms of liver dysfunction to inform their doctors of any supplements they may be taking (see the LiverTox Database to search for medications and supplements that may cause liver injury). One of the authors of the guidelines noted that levels of catechins can be over 700 mg in some green tea extract pills and, "This can be particularly dangerous when the pills are taken multiple times a day."

In light of potential liver toxicity, a USP expert committee voted in June 2007 to require the following cautionary statement to appear on the labels for green tea extracts: Caution: Must take with a meal. In rare cases extracts from green tea have been reported to adversely affect the liver. Discontinue use and consult a healthcare practitioner if you have a liver disorder or develop symptoms of liver trouble, such as abdominal pain, dark urine, or jaundice. However, approval of the label requirement was deferred and, in April 2009, the USP announced that the proposed requirement was cancelled. According to a USP spokesperson contacted by ConsumerLab.com, monitoring of adverse event databases from June 2007 through February 2009 showed no additional reports of liver toxicity, but the USP continues to monitor the safety of green tea. However, it may be wise to follow the original proposed guidance to take green tea extract with a meal, as this was given some support from tests on dogs which found that high doses of green tea extract induced lethal toxicity when given without food, but showed no significant toxicity when given with food (Wu, Int J Toxicology 2011.

Green tea leaves contain a significant amount of vitamin K (about 20 mcg in 2 grams of tea leaf — roughly the amount used to make 1 cup of tea). Boiling the leaf does not decrease the amount in the leaf by much. However, the liquid portion of brewed green tea contains hardly any vitamin K (about 0.1 mcg per cup) (Booth, JADA 1995). Consequently, matcha green tea (in which the leaf powder is consumed and would contain approximately 20 mcg of vitamin K per cup) can potentially interfere with the effectiveness of the blood-thinning drug warfarin (Coumadin). Only very large quantities of brewed green tea would provide a significant amount of vitamin K. There is one case report of a man taking warfarin (7.5 mg once daily) who had a significantly decreased INR (from 3.79 to 1.37) attributed to the ingestion of one-half to one gallon of green tea daily; his INR increased to 2.55 after he stopped drinking the green tea. On the other hand, there is also evidence that green tea catechins may have anti-clotting and anti-platelet effects, which could potentially enhance the effects of medications such as warfarin, dabigatran (Pradaxa), and clopidogrel (Plavix) (Ge, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2014; Tian, Sci Rep 2016). However, a review of the potential interactions between warfarin and green tea concluded that given "the rarity of reports and the massive quantity of green tea that appears to be necessary to cause an effect on anticoagulation, patients who drink moderate amounts of green tea are not at an increased risk for thrombosis and need not be counselled to avoid it." (Nutescu, Expert Opin Drug Safety 2006).

Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only. It is not an endorsement of any product nor it is it meant to substitute for the advice provided by physicians or other healthcare professionals. The information contained herein should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease.


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