There are many reasons why people drink matcha tea. But it seems that the health benefits of this beverage may come with some side effects.
Matcha is a finely ground powder made from green tea leaves. When you drink matcha, you’re consuming all of the nutrients found in those leaves. These include caffeine and also a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG for short.
Matcha drinkers say they feel more energized and focused after drinking it. This makes sense, as both caffeine and EGCG have links to improvements in mental performance and mood. But there’s one catch: matcha may also come with some unpleasant temporary side effects.
In this article, we’ll explore nine (9) side effects of matcha tea that you should be aware of.
Side Effects Of Matcha Tea
Can Make You Feel Nervous And Anxious
It’s also worth noting that some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you don’t have much experience with caffeinated products, it may be best to start by drinking a little bit of matcha at first and build up your tolerance gradually.
If the jitters are too strong for you, then consider trying decaffeinated matcha, which contains about 3 to 10 milligrams of caffeine per serving compared to a typical cup of brewed green tea that has about 40 milligrams.
May Mess With Your Sleep
Drinking caffeine at night is bad for your sleep, and it’s best to avoid matcha before you want to go to bed.
Caffeine can stay in the body for several hours, so if you have a cup of matcha late in the afternoon or early evening, then it may affect your ability to fall asleep later that night (6). Just like other caffeinated drinks.
Can Cause Stomach Discomfort
Since matcha is consumed in such large quantities relative to other teas, it’s not surprising that the laxative effect may be even stronger than your normal serving of brewed green or black tea.
If you’re drinking too much matcha in a short period, then you may end up with an upset stomach. It’s because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system that can lead to feelings of jitteriness and anxiety.
It can also irritate parts of your digestive tract by changing their shape or promoting muscle contractions, so if you have sensitive stomach tissue, then you may want to give your gut a break from drinking too much green tea in general. EGCG can cause inflammation when consumed at high doses over long periods, so if you drink lots of matcha daily, then it may exacerbate any pre-existing inflammation in your digestive tract (14).
Caffeine is a diuretic, which means that they increase your rate of urination (2). It can mean that you lose more fluid than usual, which then leads to dehydration that manifests itself by making you feel thirsty.
If you’re not drinking enough water, then that can be even more pronounced. It’s especially important to increase your intake of water if you drink matcha because it may otherwise cause you to become dehydrated rather than properly hydrated.
Can Lead To Anemia
High doses of caffeine and EGCG can both interfere with your body’s ability to absorb iron by binding to the proteins that transport it (1).
Since matcha contains both substances, you may not be able to properly absorb the iron present in foods if you drink too much green tea. This means that drinking lots of green tea regularly can lead to anemia over time.
If you have trouble absorbing iron or are at risk of becoming deficient, then consider talking to your doctor about how much matcha is right for you. Although anemia is rare in most developed parts of the world, certain subpopulations may be more prone to it, including pregnant women and people with conditions like celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease (11).
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Contains Tannins That Can Stain Your Teeth
Tannins are plant polyphenols that can be found in many different foods, including tea (12). Although tooth enamel mostly consists of calcium and other minerals, tannins can still stick to it if they’re present in high enough concentrations. That’s why drinking dark-colored beverages like black tea or red wine can lead to stains on your teeth over time (8).
If you drink matcha too often over a long period, then the polyphenol content may accumulate on your enamel which could stain them after prolonged exposure. There are ways to prevent this, such as drinking citrus fruit juice (which contains citric acid) after consuming tea. Furthermore, be sure not to brush your teeth right away because that may actually make the staining worse.
May Expose You To Toxic Elements
Certain plants contain compounds that can be harmful to humans if they’re present in sufficient concentrations. Some of these plants can also become contaminated with elements like arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury over time (7). It’s because those elements are naturally found in dirt and water. This means that they may end up on the leaves of a plant after being exposed over some time.
Although it’s relatively rare, matcha tea may contain toxic metals like lead and mercury.
Exposure to high levels of lead can potentially cause damage to your brain, kidneys, lungs, nervous system, and red blood cells over time (9). The dangers are much lower when you’re simply drinking small amounts regularly. But if you drink it every single day, then there’s no way to know what sort of effects it could have long term.
Mercury is another metal that can accumulate in your body over time. This can be especially problematic if you’re constantly drinking matcha. Mercury poisoning may result in symptoms like tremors, memory loss, vision problems, and even seizures (10).
Drinking It With Milk May Negatively Impact Iron Absorption
It’s a common practice to add milk to your tea for flavor as it helps reduce the bitterness of some varieties, including matcha. However, adding milk will also decrease your body’s ability to absorb iron from your meals. This is especially true for heme-iron, which is found in meat products (15).
Non-heme iron that’s present in plants is not affected by the addition of milk, but it can still decrease if you drink too much tea or have a condition like a porphyria that causes issues with absorbing this type of iron (12).
Can Cause Acne Breakouts
Matcha contains more caffeine than regular green tea. It is so because the whole leaf is consumed when brewing. It is only the infusion in conventional steeped green tea. That means that drinking matcha could give you more caffeine than drinking several cups of regular green tea (4).
For some people, that may mean that they end up with more acne as a result. That’s because caffeine has been shown to cause acne flare-ups in some people. It is especially true when consumed in large amounts on an empty stomach. If you’re prone to breakouts, then it might be best to drink matcha later in the day. Also, avoid having too much of it if you know that it tends to trigger your pimples.
How Much Matcha Should You Drink To Avoid Unpleasant Side Effects?
There are no studies that definitively say how much matcha is too much. However, it’s likely that matcha green tea side effects vary depending on a person’s age, weight, health status, and amount of exposure to the elements.
In general, you should try not to consume more than 500 mg of green tea extract or up to 400 mg of caffeine from any source per day unless recommended otherwise by your doctor (16). If possible then it’s best to spread out your consumption evenly throughout the day rather than drinking all of it at once since consuming too much can increase your risk of experiencing unpleasant side effects.
Some people may also want to stop or cut down their consumption if they’re pregnant, nursing, taking certain medications (especially those with caffeine). Additionally, it may be a good idea to quit if at risk of certain health conditions like anemia or mercury poisoning that could be exacerbated by consuming too much matcha.
The Bottom Line
Matcha tea is a popular beverage that can provide you with a large dose of nutrients, but it’s important to stay within the recommended limits. If you don’t want to give up drinking matcha completely, then try limiting your daily consumption. Then you will avoid negative side effects like becoming too caffeinated or irritated in the gut.
Drinking more may be worth doing if you’re trying to lose weight or increase feelings of focus and energy, but only if you aren’t sensitive to caffeine or have any pre-existing digestive problems.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Bioactive Dietary Polyphenols Inhibit Heme Iron Absorption in A Dose-Dependent Manner in Human Intestinal Caco-2 cells (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Caffeine and diuresis during rest and exercise: A meta-analysis (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Caffeine consumption and self-assessed stress, anxiety, and depression in secondary school children – Gareth Richards, Andrew Smith, 2015 (2015, journals.sagepub.com)
- Caffeine effects on cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to acute psychosocial stress and their relationship to level of habitual caffeine consumption (1990, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Common Causes of Chronic Diarrhea (n.d., iffgd.org)
- Effects of caffeine on sleep quality and daytime functioning (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Heavy Metals in Contaminated Soils: A Review of Sources, Chemistry, Risks and Best Available Strategies for Remediation (2011, hindawi.com)
- Iron staining of the acquired enamel pellicle after exposure to tannic acid or chlorhexidine: preliminary report (1982, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Lead toxicity: a review (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Management of Iron Deficiency Anemia (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Mercury Toxicity and Treatment: A Review of the Literature (2012, hindawi.com)
- Nutrients and Porphyria: An Intriguing Crosstalk (2020, mdpi.com)
- Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Repeated dose studies with pure Epigallocatechin-3-gallate demonstrated dose and route dependant hepatotoxicity with associated dyslipidemia (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Review on iron and its importance for human health (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Safety of Ingested Caffeine: A Comprehensive Review (2017, frontiersin.org)