This Velvety, Cloud-Like Matcha Latte Is Scientifically Linked to Feelings of Happiness and Tranquility

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With *gestures vaguely at everything* going on, you may find yourself in short supply of certain "happy hormones," like serotonin and dopamine. Enter: matcha, which has been shown to help improve mood. In this episode of Plant Based, herbalist and Supernatural founder Rachelle Robinett shows you how to make a mood-boosting matcha recipe.

Matcha (deservedly) gets a lot of praise for its extra-high antioxidant count, but it should also be celebrated for the amount of the amino acid L-theanine that it contains. Why? Because it's L-theanine that gives matcha its mood-boosting benefits. "Amino acids are the building blocks of many things in our body," says Robinett. "They're the building blocks of collagen, of protein, of neurotransmitters, and we're really focused on the neurotransmitters today because those are the things that modulate our mood. It's really wonderful for just a sense of stability and clarity."

In addition to the sense of calm and clarity that Robinett describes, research has also shown that L-theanine can help increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, as well as decrease the stress hormone cortisol. "L-theanine is an amino acid that has been associated with many beneficial psychotropic effects, most notably reducing anxiety and stress," psychiatrist Daniel Amen, MD, previously told Well+Good. "A growing body of research [also] suggests that L-theanine helps promote healthy moods. For example, a 2017 study published in the journal Acta Neuropsychiatrica on people with major depressive disorder found that L-theanine improves symptoms of depression among other benefits." Dr. Amen also shared that L-theanine enhances gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate brain excitability and prevent over-firing in the brain. This, he says, leads to feeling more relaxed. "In addition, findings in the journal Nutrients show that L-theanine’s anti-stress properties may lie in dampening the stress hormone cortisol. Another randomized controlled trial showed that taking L-theanine significantly lowered the body’s stress response system," Dr. Amen said.

Robinett adds that because matcha is a ground-up powder—so when you drink it, you consume the entire tea leaf versus regular green tea, which is brewed and then you drink the steeped water—matcha contains five times more L-theanine than typical green tea. "No shade to green tea!" Robinett says.

Experts In This Article
  • Daniel Amen, MD, physician, adult and child psychologist, author, and founder of Amen Clinics, a collection of outpatient healthcare clinics
  • Rachelle Robinett, registered herbalist, educator, and founder of Supernatural

Learn more about the differences between match and green tea according to a dietitian in this video:

While matcha is traditionally prepared with a whisk, Robinett makes this mood-boosting matcha recipe in a blender so that she can blend in a couple of dates. This creates what she describes as a "super thick, fluffy, naturally-sweetened latte." Robinett also adds oat milk, vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt. Once blended, she tops this latte with some flowers from the "tree of happiness" known as albizia. "In herbalism, the flower and the bark [of the albizia tree] are used to support a calm, positive mood, so I had to bring some of these to put on top of our mood boosting matcha latte," Robinett says.

Press play on the video above to get the full recipe, and follow along using the instructions below.

Mood-boosting matcha recipe

1-2 cups oat milk
2 tsp ceremonial-grade matcha
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
3 medjool dates
Albizia flower buds (optional)

1. Add the oat milk to the blender, then sift (if desired) matcha powder through a sieve as you add it to the blender. This, Robinett says, is a totally optional step. Next, add the vanilla, sea salt, and dates and blend until ingredients are frothy and well-incorporated.

2. Pour into a glass and top with albizia flower buds, if using.

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