Matcha is becoming social media's favourite drink and its smoother caffeine kick and health benefits are giving coffee serious competition

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In the matcha vs coffee battle for your morning caffeine hit, which one would win? Time was, you’d walk into a coffee shop and hear calls only for lattes and flat whites. But now matcha could be about to steal cappuccino's milky crown, with health and 'buzz' benefits that might well be better than coffee's (But, hmmm, the taste... we’ll get on to the taste in a moment).

At London coffee house Blank Street Coffee, matcha is fast becoming the most-requested drink and its iced blueberry matcha drink went viral (so much so that they brought out a blueberry matcha candle). Meanwhile, Jenki Matcha Bar in Spitalfields and Selfridges has now taken coffee off its menu entirely, as customers are fully converted to the bright green powdered green tea drink. We're also seeing more matcha in the hands of health-conscious, bubble-tea-obsessed Gen Zs and social media-loving celebrities.

The Instagram feeds and investment portfolios of celebs are rife with the green stuff these days: the Kardashians discuss their favourite matcha recipes practically every week. Kourtney Karshadian (below) says her secret ingredient for making the grassy drink delicious is a few drops of maple syrup. Rapper Drake, meanwhile, has invested in New York cafe, Matchabar. 

Content creator Emma Chamberlain now has a full matcha range within her drinks brand Chamberlain Coffee, complete with matcha candles and matcha dry shampoo. And presenter Rochelle Humes launched her matcha tea brand Cloudcha in 2023.

@poosh Can you guess the secret ingredient in Kourtney Kardashian's matcha latte? #pooshtok #recipe #poosh #kourtneykardashian ♬ original sound - Poosh

Why could matcha be better than coffee? 

Matcha's main draw is its gentler caffeine spike than coffee – so you swerve the jitters – and its health benefits outstrip those of coffee too. But the unsweetened taste, often described as tasting like grass, (or, more unkindly, like fish or even feet) is acquired. However,  if you've had an iffy-tasting matcha, don't write off the entire genre for you. It's highly likely to be a bad quality one or blended with other ingredients. 

If you want to break up with your current caffeine provider and switch from coffee to matcha, here’s the info you need, courtesy of nutritionist - and former matcha hater - Pippa Campbell. She weighs up the health benefits of matcha versus those of coffee and gives some tips on overcoming matcha 'ick'. 

Q: Matcha vs coffee: which one has the most caffeine? 

Coffee has more caffeine per serving

Whether matcha or coffee wins in terms of caffeine content is subjective depending on whether a big caffeine hit is a good thing.  

Matcha tends to have less caffeine per serving than coffee. On average, a cup of coffee, according to Healthline, contains between 80 to 100mg of caffeine (the beans have 10-12mg of caffeine per gram and a single shot serving of coffee is around 10 grams). 

Interestingly, matcha actually has more caffeine per gram (19 to 44mg) but because you only use half to one teaspoon (two to four grams), a matcha drink contains less caffeine overall. That said, it can still range between 38-176mg of caffeine depending on the powder used, its freshness and the brewing technique. 

Those who love the buzz of caffeine may therefore prefer coffee’s stronger energy boost. But, if you are trying to drink less caffeine (which can cause jitters and impact your sleep even hours later) you might consider swapping out one of your lattes for a matcha.

But matcha gives you caffeine without the crash

If you drink coffee to keep you focused - listen up. Matcha could actually be better at the job because it contains a higher amount of an amino acid called L-theanine, explains Campbell. L-theanine reduces cortisol and increases GABA, our relaxing neurotransmitter.
“The L-theanine in matcha is thought to reduce cortisol and to help induce a state of calm," says Campbell. Cortisol, a stress hormone can be triggered by caffeine, hence the 'on-edge' feeling you may get from coffee."It can then work alongside the caffeine to give you a more sustained energy boost, for enhanced focus and concentration without the jittery effect of high caffeine intake.” 

Matcha energy lasts up to five hours, according to Jenki Matcha, while coffee crashes after one-to-two.  

Q: Is coffee or matcha better for your health?

Both matcha and coffee are antioxidant and nutrient-rich

Coffee and matcha share some common health benefits and that's because they are rich in antioxidants - compounds that help defend your body against internal and external stressors that can lead to certain diseases. They also both have polyphenols, plant compounds that have been found to help prevent cancer and help reduce high blood pressure and the risks of heart disease. Coffee and matcha have both been linked to improved liver health and brain function.

Both have vitamins and minerals: matcha is a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and calcium. Coffee has vitamin B2, vitamin B3 and magnesium.

But matcha trumps coffee for health benefits

Coffee may be rich in antioxidants, but matcha contains significantly more. It's particularly high in a potent type of antioxidant called catechins. A catechin found in matcha called EGCG is linked to multiple health benefits, including lowering your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

At the same time, while coffee does contain polyphenols that can help your health, unfiltered coffee can also contain elements - namely the molecules cafestol and kahweol - that increase bad cholesterol levels, something that's not true for matcha. 

Matcha’s signature bright green colour is because its ground-up leaves are rich in chlorophyll, the substance that plants use to gain energy from sunlight, and which is great for liver detox. Coffee beans are not sun worshippers, so can't boast this trump card. "Chlorophyll contains antioxidants, as well as being great at supporting detoxification by binding to toxins and improving liver detoxification pathways," says Campbell. "It also has anti-inflammatory properties.”

Matcha is better for your breath and teeth

Ever heard the phrase 'matcha breath'? No, because there's no such thing; coffee breath, on the other hand... The black stuff can make your mouth smell like a mouldy cardigan and stain your teeth. Not so the clean green!


@kristeacafe never drink 💩-matcha again. learn how to perfectly make matcha lattes at home with this recipe ✨🍵 #matcharecipe #matchalatte #howto ♬ supïdo by frozy - frozy

Q: Which is more affordable - coffee or matcha?

You get what you pay for, but matcha is generally more expensive

Just like instant versus ground coffee, not all matchas are created equal. There’s everyday matcha - what your coffee shop or bubble tea bar is likely to serve. When it's whisked into a milky drink, it is perfectly tasty. 

And then there’s more expensive ceremonial-grade matcha. This is used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and is made from the youngest tea leaves and has a more mellow flavour. Traditionally it is drunk with a little water in a ceremonial bowl, rather like an espresso. 

If you are making your own matcha, Campbell advises buying ceremonial grade for the health benefits, plus it's more likely to taste good. "Ceremonial matcha is high-grade and the quality won't vary much,” she says. "Standard matcha can really vary in quality." She adds that with ceremonial grade matcha, you need less to get the benefits. "It has a higher L-theanine content too."

@greencaffeinematcha Replying to @Dnkle this is how i can tell if the matcha i have is good quality - its a checklist so if it ticks at least 2 of those points then i know in onto something good 😌👌 #matchaquality #matchapowder #bestmatchapowder #matchatea #ceremonialmatcha #japanesematcha #matchatok ♬ Calm piano instrument(969656) - beefsoul

Q: Does coffee taste better than matcha?

Matcha can be an acquired taste

One big sticking point for moving over to matcha can be the taste. If you love your daily Columbian roast or double-shot espresso, the thought of giving that up for a very vegetal, earthy flavour, might be a stretch. 

Here's where quality can make all the difference. It should be a vibrant bright green (avoid dull or yellowish), finely ground into a silky smooth powder and should have a distinct smell that's grassy and slightly fruity. When it comes to bitterness there should be only a hint. Jenki Matcha, for example, has deliberately chosen the smoothest ceremonial -grade matcha powder to make it more palatable for western palates. Overly bitter, harsh or 'fishy'? Your matcha may be low-grade, with less of a health punch, but may be perfectly fine in a sweetened latte or bubble tea. 

But read on as Campbell has some useful advice for getting your matcha to taste better.

Q: How to drink matcha to get the best taste

For matcha superfans: the matcha shot
The traditional match shot method is normally presented in a beautiful matcha bowl and mixed with a matcha whisk with a little water. This is likely to taste the most ‘grassy’, but it’s here that you taste the quality’. Don’t try it with anything but ceremonial-grade matcha.

For milky coffee fans: matcha latte  
It’s the more Western way to take your matcha, and perfect for milky coffee drinkers. The milk can buffer the extreme grassy taste, but consider choosing a sweeter plant milk so you really enjoy it. "I used to hate matcha!", admits Campbell "But my 21-year-old daughter made me matcha lattes with coconut or almond milk and I was hooked.” 

For match haters: hide in a protein smoothie
To really hide the taste, add one teaspoon of matcha to a green smoothie, says Campbell. Blitz 10g baby spinach, 1 kiwi, 1 teaspoon matcha powder, 100ml non-dairy milk, 1 serving of pea or whey protein  powder.

6 Matcha teas that are great on taste 

Best for taste: Jenki Matcha Ritual Starter Set, £49.99

Boasting a 'Great Taste' award, Jenki Matcha is the social media favourite that ticks every single box on sourcing, quality, sustainability, taste and authentic kit. At the Jenki Matcha Bar in London's Selfridges, there are always queues through to the Beauty Hall. Whisk one to two sieved scoops in a little water to make a foamy paste (don't skip this bit or you'll get lumps) and then add to hot or iced milk, or drink as a shot. Jenki has gone out of its way to source a super smooth matcha. We love that one of the co-founders is a coffee-loving cameraman who needed a more steady hand for filming. 

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The nutritionist's choice: Nourish And Glow Ceremonial Matcha Tea, £22.95

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Nourish and Glow is the ceremonial matcha that converted Pippa to the 'green side' from coffee. It has a smooth and not bitter taste, meaning you can have it as a shot and as a latte.

Best for functional mushroom fans : Dirtea Mushroom Matcha Super Blend, £59.99

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Slightly sweetened with coconut sugar and coconut milk powders, Dirtea Mushroom Matcha Super Blend can be taken as a shot or topped up with milk. It has 1,100mg of matcha per serving (about a quarter of a teaspoon, so not particularly strong). It has added brain-boosting powers from lion’s mane functional mushroom and MCT and the age-proofing adaptogen moringa. A tasty boost.

Best caffeine-free option: Clearspring Organic Japanese Kuwa Matcha, £9.99

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Clearspring offers an organic, naturally caffeine-free matcha. How can that be? It's made using mulberry leaves(kuwa), not caffeine-containing green tea leaves and also has a mellower flavour.

Best for skin: Aime Collagen Matcha Glow, £55

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If you want supercharged skin benefits from your smoothies, Aime has combined its recommended 10g of hydrolyzed marine collagen with vitamin C  plus 1.6g organic matcha with 64mg caffeine, in a formula to enhance the quality of your skin, hair and nails. Matcha is high in skin-protecting antioxidants. 

Best for match nerds: Ippodo Matcha Tea, £41

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For matcha nerds or those seeking a truly authentic experience, Ippodo Matcha Tea is a Japanese family-run matcha business dating back to 1717. They call this a 'premium' rather than a ceremonial grade matcha and describe the taste as you would a fine wine: "The initial fresh moss-like character opens up to a round umami that reminds us of a crisp Parmesan. Its fragrance is sweet and lush, while its color is verdant like the spring undergrowth in the mountains south of Kyoto." Mix one teaspoon with 60ml  water at 80C and whisk with a matcha whisk in an 'M' shaped movement for 15 seconds.