Matcha has become an incredibly popular drink in recent years, with many coffee shops like Starbucks offering it on their menus. But is drinking Starbucks matcha actually good for you? Here’s a quick answer: Matcha can provide some health benefits like antioxidants and caffeine, but the sugar and additives in Starbucks matcha make it less healthy than traditional matcha tea.

This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the pros and cons of drinking Starbucks matcha so you can decide if it’s a smart choice for you.

In this detailed guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the potential benefits and downsides of Starbucks matcha. We’ll look at the nutritional value, caffeine content, sugar, and other ingredients that set Starbucks matcha apart from traditional matcha powder and tea.

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a type of powdered green tea that originated in Japan. It is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the same plant used to make other types of green tea. However, what sets matcha apart is the way it is grown, harvested, and processed.

Basic definition

Matcha is made from young tea leaves that are shade-grown for several weeks before harvest. This process enhances the production of chlorophyll, giving matcha its vibrant green color. After harvesting, the leaves are steamed, dried, and ground into a fine powder.

How it’s made

The process of making matcha involves several steps. First, the tea leaves are carefully selected, usually from the first harvest of the year. These leaves are then steamed to prevent oxidation and preserve their freshness.

Next, the steamed leaves are dried and deveined, leaving only the tender parts. Finally, the dried leaves are ground into a fine powder using traditional stone mills.

Forms of matcha

Matcha is available in different grades, with ceremonial grade being the highest quality and culinary grade being more suitable for cooking and baking. Ceremonial grade matcha is typically used in traditional tea ceremonies and is known for its vibrant green color and smooth, mellow flavor.

Culinary grade matcha, on the other hand, is often used in recipes like smoothies, desserts, and even savory dishes.

It’s important to note that not all matcha is created equal. The quality of matcha can vary depending on factors such as the region it is grown in, the cultivation practices used, and the processing methods employed.

It’s always best to choose a reputable brand or source when purchasing matcha to ensure you’re getting a high-quality product.

Potential Health Benefits of Matcha


One of the main reasons why matcha has gained popularity is because it is packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that help protect the body against damage from harmful free radicals. Matcha is rich in catechins, a type of antioxidant that has been linked to various health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

In fact, matcha contains significantly higher levels of catechins compared to other types of tea.

According to a study published in the Journal of Chromatography A, matcha contains 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea. This makes it a great choice for those looking to boost their antioxidant intake.


While matcha does contain caffeine, the levels are lower compared to coffee. A typical cup of matcha contains around 35 milligrams of caffeine, compared to the 95 milligrams found in a cup of coffee. This makes matcha a suitable alternative for those looking to reduce their caffeine intake without completely giving up the energy boost.

Additionally, matcha contains a unique amino acid called L-theanine, which has a calming effect on the brain and can help counteract the jittery feeling often associated with caffeine. This combination of caffeine and L-theanine provides a more sustained and focused energy compared to the sudden spike and crash experienced with coffee.


As mentioned earlier, matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid that can promote relaxation and reduce stress. L-theanine has been found to increase alpha waves in the brain, which are associated with a state of relaxation and mental clarity.

This can help improve focus and concentration, making matcha a popular choice among students and those looking to enhance their cognitive performance.

Moreover, the combination of L-theanine with caffeine in matcha has been shown to have synergistic effects. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that the combination of caffeine and L-theanine improved cognitive performance and increased alertness more than caffeine alone.

Weight loss

Matcha has also been associated with potential weight loss benefits. It is believed that the catechins found in matcha can help boost metabolism and increase fat oxidation. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming green tea with high levels of catechins led to greater fat loss compared to a control group.

Furthermore, matcha can help suppress appetite and promote a feeling of fullness due to its high fiber content. This can be beneficial for those looking to manage their weight or engage in a calorie-controlled diet.

Downsides of Starbucks Matcha

Sugar content

One of the downsides of Starbucks Matcha is its high sugar content. While matcha itself is known for its health benefits, some Starbucks Matcha drinks are loaded with added sugar. This can be a concern for individuals who are watching their sugar intake or trying to maintain a balanced diet.

For example, a grande Starbucks Matcha Green Tea Latte contains 32 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to about 8 teaspoons of sugar.

Additives and fillers

Another downside of Starbucks Matcha is the presence of additives and fillers. To enhance the flavor and texture of their matcha drinks, Starbucks often includes additives such as sweeteners, thickeners, and even artificial ingredients.

These additives may not only affect the taste but also reduce the overall nutritional value of the drink. It is important for consumers to be aware of these additional ingredients, especially if they have specific dietary restrictions or preferences.

Less antioxidants than traditional matcha

Compared to traditional matcha, Starbucks Matcha may have lower levels of antioxidants. Traditional matcha is made from grinding whole green tea leaves into a fine powder, which retains a high concentration of antioxidants called catechins.

However, Starbucks Matcha may undergo processing and blending that could potentially reduce the antioxidant content. While it may still provide some health benefits, it may not be as potent as pure, ceremonial-grade matcha.

How to Make Starbucks Matcha Healthier

While Starbucks matcha drinks can be a delicious treat, they may not always be the healthiest option. However, there are several ways you can make your Starbucks matcha drink healthier without compromising on taste. Here are some tips to consider:

Ask for less sweetener

One way to make your Starbucks matcha drink healthier is by asking for less sweetener. Matcha itself has a naturally sweet and earthy flavor, so you might not need as much added sweetener as the standard recipe calls for.

By asking for less sweetener, you can reduce the overall sugar content of your drink and make it a healthier option.

Opt for plant-based milk

Another way to make your Starbucks matcha drink healthier is by opting for plant-based milk. Many Starbucks locations offer a variety of plant-based milk options, such as almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk. These alternatives are lower in calories and saturated fat compared to regular dairy milk.

Additionally, they can add a creamy texture and enhance the flavor of your matcha drink.

Choose unsweetened matcha drinks

If you’re looking to cut down on sugar and calories, choosing unsweetened matcha drinks is a great option. Starbucks offers unsweetened matcha powder, which you can request to be used in your drink. This allows you to control the amount of sweetener added or even enjoy the natural flavors of matcha without any additional sugar.

By choosing unsweetened matcha drinks, you can enjoy the health benefits of matcha without the added sugars.

By following these tips, you can make your Starbucks matcha drink healthier and still enjoy the delicious taste. Remember, it’s all about finding the right balance that suits your preferences and health goals.


To wrap up, drinking Starbucks matcha can provide some benefits from the matcha itself like antioxidants and energizing caffeine. But the high sugar content and other additives make Starbucks matcha drinks less healthy than having traditional matcha tea or powder.

Your best bet is to customize your Starbucks matcha order to make it as natural as possible. Or consider making matcha drinks at home so you control the ingredients. Overall, matcha can be a smart addition to your diet if you pay attention to what goes into your matcha latte or frappe.

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