Decaf matcha is a specially processed variant of matcha that has undergone methods to reduce or eliminate caffeine.
Unlike regular matcha, which naturally contains caffeine due to the young tea leaves' inherent properties, decaf matcha offers a milder, more soothing experience without compromising on taste or the plethora of beneficial compounds found in regular matcha.
How is Decaf Matcha Made?
Decaf matcha undergoes a decaffeination process that removes or reduces the caffeine content.
This decaffeination process is usually applied to the tea leaves and not the finished powder, as the caffeine is on the outside of the leaves and once ground it can be difficult to isolate.
Here are a few common methods employed to create decaf matcha:
#1 Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Method
This method utilizes pressurized carbon dioxide to extract caffeine from the tea leaves while leaving behind the desirable compounds. The CO2 acts as a solvent, gently drawing out the caffeine molecules, which are then separated and discarded.
Of course this can alter the flavor of the decaf matcha. The CO2 not only extracts the caffeine, but other compounds as well, that’s why decaf matcha will never quite taste as good as true ceremonial grade matcha.
#2 Water Processing Method
In this method, the tea leaves are soaked in water, allowing the caffeine to dissolve. The water is then filtered through activated charcoal or resin filters that selectively capture the caffeine molecules.
The caffeine-free water is reintroduced to the tea leaves to preserve the flavor and other compounds. Again, this method will show a downside when it comes to the flavor of the decaf matcha.
Even if the filtered water is reintroduced to the tea leaves, it still will taste like a “second steeping”.
#3 Ethyl Acetate Method
This method involves treating the tea leaves with ethyl acetate, a natural compound found in fruits and vegetables. Ethyl acetate selectively bonds with caffeine molecules, which can then be separated, leaving behind decaffeinated tea leaves.
Benefits of Decaf Matcha
Although there are significant drawbacks when it comes to the taste of decaf matcha, there are a few advantages. Let’s go through a few of them here.
#1 Reduced Caffeine Intake
If you are sensitive to caffeine or you simply prefer to limit your intake, decaf matcha provides an excellent option. It allows you to experience similar flavor, aroma, and health benefits of matcha without the stimulating effects of caffeine.
#2 Relaxation and Stress Relief
Matcha contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which promotes relaxation and a sense of calm. Decaf matcha maintains its L-theanine content, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a peaceful beverage that can aid in stress reduction.
Normally, the l-theanine combines with the caffeine to create a synergistic effect, giving you a calm alert energy that lasts throughout the day. This can be perfect for long periods of work and study, but if you just want to mellow out, perhaps decaf matcha is the right choice.
Downsides of Decaf Matcha
As we mentioned before, there is no way to produce decaf matcha while still leaving the flavor intact. All decaffeination methods involve some sort of extraction and if you’ve ever brewed green tea before, you’ll know that there is something special about the flavor of that first extraction.
So is natural matcha good for you? Yes!
If you want to experience the real deal and get some premium Japanese matcha tea grown without pesticides, you can browse our selection of matcha powder and accessories.
After traveling around Japan for the past few years, we’ve met with dozens of farmers and sampled hundreds of different matchas. We’ve ultimately selected just a small handful of our favorites to share with all of you.