Does matcha cause jitters?
The answer is simple: No, matcha does not cause jitters. The key to understanding why drinking matcha doesn’t cause jitters is to understand the cause of caffeine jitters.
Caffeine jitters are the result of overcaffeination - consuming more caffeine that what the body can handle.
As a stimulant, it sends signals to the central nervous system to pump blood faster through the body which manifests in higher blood pressure, sweatiness, palpitations, anxiety - jitters in short.
To determine how much caffeine you consume before the jitters start, you need to factor in your metabolism, age, gender and genetics. Other factors that come into play are smoking habits (if you do smoke) and pregnancy for women. This makes it difficult to create specific guidelines for a specific demographic so only only general ceiling consumption could be made.
Health regulatory agencies have come up with their own limits based on the data they’ve gathered, which is again representative only of the study’s population. The Canadian regulatory agency Health Canada reviewed 200 studies related to the effects of caffeine on human health and concluded that 400 mg is the safe amount to consume in a day. On the other hand, caffeine for pregnant women is safe as long as they stay well below 200 mg per day. Going beyond that they run the risk of of a miscarriage.
It’s important to note that these studies focused mostly on people who drink coffee and energy drinks with 163 mg and 215 mg caffeine respectively. Compared these matcha which is matcha is prepared using 1 teaspoon (2mg) with about 70 mg of caffeine, it’s easy to see why matcha doesn’t cause jitters. But having half the caffeine content is just of the reason.
The effects of matcha’s caffeine is balanced out by the presence of L-theanine, a nutrient that is abundant in matcha. L-theanine slows down the release of caffeine’s energy boost from a caffeine kick into smooth waves. Caffeine is gradually absorbed by the body which results into 4-6 hours of mental alertness and concentration.
There’s no crash either. There’s a stark difference post-caffeination between a coffee drinker and matcha drinker. For one, the coffee drinker’s jitters can be apparent depending on how much they’ve drank.
Starting the day with a pick-me-up, one before lunch and another in the afternoon. By this time the jitters would’ve compounded and it’s safe that a pounding headache is on the way. In contrast, the matcha drinker has a bowl a day (matcha is quite pricey!) and they can last through the afternoon chill as a pill, and not jittery at all.
Coming down from matcha is smooth, pleasurable and relaxing. No jitters.
Additionally, L-theanine has a calming effect. It stimulates brain waves into producing more serotonin and dopamine, the hormones responsible for relaxation and happiness.The stimulation from caffeine works in synergy with the calming effect of L-theanine results into a what matcha drinkers call “relaxed alertness”. The ancient monks who started matcha drinking might just call that “Zen”.