Of all the reasons our customers give to us as to why they drink matcha, one stands out above all:
"Matcha makes me feel calm and focused."
No kidding. We live in a world drenched in information, constantly vying for our attention. Every factoid and story exists at our fingertips, which can easily stifle concentration and lead the best of us down a spiralling path of Youtube, Buzzfeed, Pinterest, Facebook...
Matcha is no cure for your Facebook addiction, but a series of recent studies has indicated that matcha tea powder and its very special amino acid l-theanine plays a role in helping us settle down, zero in on what we need to do, and concentrate.
How does matcha achieve this lofty feat? Simple: Matcha contains an amino acid called l-theanine that is unique to tea. Especially high concentrations of l-theanine - 40mg per cup as opposed to 9mg found in brewed green tea - are found in matcha green tea, making matcha the best way to naturally access l-theanine.
Theanine is a pretty amazing property, widely found to improve mood and working memory capacity, reduce anxiety, increase concentration, and improve cognition, but when mixed with caffeine like in matcha green tea powder, it really starts to shine. L-theanine slows the release of caffeine into the bloodstream, leading to longer and more stable energy - up to 6 hours - than a cup of coffee or a soda, which tend to release caffeine in a rush then trickle off within an hour or two.
Note: Science offers no absolutes, no miracles, no magic solutions. Trust how your body feels, not how someone tells it to feel. Always enjoy the delicious things in life (like matcha) in moderation.
l-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses Kenta Kimuraa, Makoto Ozekib, Lekh Raj Junejab, Hideki Ohiraa Nagoya University Department of Psychology, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, 464-8601, Japan Taiyo Kagaku Co., Ltd., 1-3 Takara-machi, Yokkaichi, Mie 510-0844, Japan, November 2005
Abstract: "l-Theanine is an amino acid contained in green tea leaves which is known to block the binding of l-glutamic acid to glutamate receptors in the brain. Because the characteristics of l-Theanine suggest that it may influence psychological and physiological states under stress, the present study examined these possible effects in a laboratory setting using a mental arithmetic task as an acute stressor. Twelve participants underwent four separate trials: one in which they took l-Theanine at the start of an experimental procedure, one in which they took l-Theanine midway, and two control trials in which they either took a placebo or nothing. The experimental sessions were performed by double-blind, and the order of them was counterbalanced. The results showed that l-Theanine intake resulted in a reduction in the heart rate (HR) and salivary immunoglobulin A (s-IgA) responses to an acute stress task relative to the placebo control condition. Moreover, analyses of heart rate variability indicated that the reductions in HR and s-IgA were likely attributable to an attenuation of sympathetic nervous activation. Thus, it was suggested that the oral intake of l-Theanine could cause anti-stress effects via the inhibition of cortical neuron excitation."
L-theanine and caffeine help you focus, improves cognition time, reduces distractions, and aid multi-tasking (attention-switching)
The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Owen GN1, Parnell H, De Bruin EA, Rycroft JA. Unilever Research and Development, Colworth House, Sharnbrook, Bedford, UK. August 2008.
Abstract: "The aim of this study was to compare 50 mg caffeine, with and without 100 mg L-theanine, on cognition and mood in healthy volunteers. The effects of these treatments on word recognition, rapid visual information processing, critical flicker fusion threshold, attention switching and mood were compared to placebo in 27 participants. Performance was measured at baseline and again 60 min and 90 min after each treatment (separated by a 7-day washout). Caffeine improved subjective alertness at 60 min and accuracy on the attention-switching task at 90 min. The L-theanine and caffeine combination improved both speed and accuracy of performance of the attention-switching task at 60 min, and reduced susceptibility to distracting information in the memory task at both 60 min and 90 min. These results replicate previous evidence which suggests that L-theanine and caffeine in combination are beneficial for improving performance on cognitively demanding tasks."
Green tea epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) promotes neural progenitor cell proliferation and sonic hedgehog pathway activation during adult hippocampal neurogenesis. Yanyan Wang1,†,Maoquan Li2,3,†, Xueqing Xu1, Min Song1, Huansheng Tao1 and Yun Bai1. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. Volume 56, Issue 8, pages 1292–1303, August 2012
Abstract: "We show that EGCG treatment significantly increased the number of 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU)-labeled cells in adult hippocampal neural progenitor cell (NPC) cultures and in the dentate gyrus of adult mice. Meanwhile, EGCG markedly improved spatial cognition in mice. These events are associated with the sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling pathway. We observed that EGCG triggered a robust upregulation of Shh receptor (Patched) mRNA and protein expression in cultured NPCs as well as an upregulation of the downstream Shh transcriptional target Gli1. These changes were further confirmed in the hippocampus of mice administered EGCG. The blockage of the Shh signal with the pharmacological inhibitor cyclopamine attenuated EGCG-induced hippocampal neurogenesis."
L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Nobre AC1, Rao A, Owen GN. Unilever Food and Health Research Institute, Olivier van Noortlaan 120, Postbus 114, 3130 AC Vlaardingen, The Netherlands. 2008.
Abstract: "Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. Tea is known to be a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants. However tea also contains a unique amino acid, L-theanine that may modulate aspects of brain function in humans. Evidence from human electroencephalograph (EEG) studies show that it has a direct effect on the brain (Juneja et al. Trends in Food Science & Tech 1999;10;199-204). L-theanine significantly increases activity in the alpha frequency band which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness. However, this effect has only been established at higher doses than that typically found in a cup of black tea (approximately 20mg). The aim of the current research was to establish this effect at more realistic dietary levels. EEG was measured in healthy, young participants at baseline and 45, 60, 75, 90 and 105 minutes after ingestion of 50mg L-theanine (n=16) or placebo (n=19). Participants were resting with their eyes closed during EEG recording. There was a greater increase in alpha activity across time in the L-theanine condition (relative to placebo (p+0.05). A second study replicated this effect in participants engaged in passive activity. These data indicate that L-theanine, at realistic dietary levels, has a significant effect on the general state of mental alertness or arousal. Furthermore, alpha activity is known to play an important role in critical aspects of attention, and further research is therefore focussed on understanding the effect of L-theanine on attentional processes."