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Swapping coffee for matcha helped my anxiety- Here’s Why

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Montclair chapter.

As a long-time coffee addict and former barista, at one time, the thought of giving up coffee would have caused me to keel over entirely. I’m being serious! When I was a barista, my coffee schedule went like this: 

7 a.m.: Open shop, drink cappuccino

10 a.m.: Dirty chai- (burn my hand on the milk steamer)

12 p.m.: Iced coffee- (lose an acrylic nail while unboxing milk)

6 p.m.: Close up, bring cappuccino home (contemplate quitting for the one thousand time)

Obviously, since then, I’ve hung up my apron and thankfully retired as a barista. Espresso is pretty expensive to keep buying, so I had to lower my intake to just about two cups a day. Last year I struggled with anxiety pretty severely. I was having a hard time finding out why I was feeling fine in the morning and anxious around midday. I also would get heart palpitations if I drank too much coffee. (It’s a little terrifying to sit on the shuttle, wondering if your last minutes will be spent sandwiched between two sweaty freshmen).

It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my uncle about it that I learned that almost all of my relatives on my mom’s side had given up caffeine because of their own struggles with anxiety. My uncle recommended matcha as a great alternative because it still had a caffeine boost but didn’t cause the same jittery anxiety feeling I was dealing with. I was skeptical about it and very, very, very reluctant to kiss my sweet two cups of coffee goodbye.

Why Matcha?

In fact, it’s scientifically backed that matcha affects you differently than coffee! Why? L-theanine, an amino acid in matcha, promotes relaxation focus and decreases anxiety. There is a lot of research looking at just how matcha can affect people, including this recent study by the National Library of Medicine that observed how participants didn’t experience the same post-caffeinated crash that coffee-drinking participants did. 

This Japanese study overseen by Dr. Yuki Kurauchi was done on rodents measuring mice’s anxiety levels when placed in a maze. Some were given matcha before the study, and some control groups were not. The mice were given an equivalent dose to what a person would consume in a cup of matcha. The mice that were given matcha were shown to have lower anxiety and completed the maze faster.

There is still much to be known about the positive effects of matcha, but after doing some research, I was completely sold. Absolutely anything seemed better than the crushing anxiety I was getting after a large Dunkin cold brew.

My Experience 

So… did it actually help me? Surprisingly, yes! Although I thought someone would have to pry my french press from my cold dead hands, I’ve now willingly stopped drinking coffee altogether. Matcha certainly has a different taste and especially a different texture, but overall I feel so much less anxious after drinking it. And best of all, I wasn’t getting any heart palpitations! (yay!) 

Although it was hard to break my coffee addiction, I’ve never been more glad that I made the decision to switch over. Feeling better about my anxiety than I have since forever is something that I’d never trade for an Americano. 

If you’re looking for places to get a matcha latte or just a good cup of coffee, here are some of my favorite local coffee shops to go to. Check them out and support these local businesses! :)

My Absolute Favorite Local Coffee Shops For Matcha (And Coffee)

Trend Coffee House: 

Location: Downtown Montclair

Best Pro: Lavender Matcha and crepes! And, they will put CBD in any drink for an extra $2.00!

Cedar Beans:

Location: Cedar Grove (10 minutes from Montclair State campus)

Best Pro: Iced rose matcha latte! If you like floral flavors for sure, give this place a try! 

Java Love: 

Location: Uptown and Downtown Montclair

Best Pro: All the people who work here are hot. They have amazing specialty drinks with a new menu for every season!

The Fine Grind: 

Location: Little Falls, NJ

Best Pro: Breakfast is served all day :) Also, there’s live music on Wednesdays and Fridays, and they have gluten-free and vegan baked goods available.

Robyn Platz

Montclair '24

Robyn is a Public Relations student studying at Montclair State. When she's not writing or running late to class, you can find her spending too much money on plants! :)