Matcha Tea: Federal Institute for Risk Assessment Warns Of Aluminum

Matcha tea is a trend drink and is also considered healthy. But samples of the green brew contained high levels of aluminum – consumers could be at risk if consumed regularly.

Whether as a creamy Matcha latte in a café, as ice cream in a Japanese restaurant or as a biscuit in the supermarket: the intensively green Matcha tea is becoming increasingly popular. According to market research, 165 new Matcha products have been on sale in Germany in the past five years – and only 39 percent of these are actually tea products.

Matcha is unfermented green tea that is processed and prepared in a special way: Its leaves are ground into a powder and – without further filtering – are stirred into hot water or foamed with it. The tea extract from Japan tastes bitter-bitter to fruity and has an invigorating effect. The Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE) refers to its health-promoting ingredients such as antioxidants, calcium, iron, potassium, B vitamins, vitamins A and K. However, there is a catch.

High aluminum content in individual Matcha samples

Teas have the fundamental problem that aluminum is repeatedly detected in them. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has now published a statement aimed at regular Matcha consumers. Individual matcha tea samples had a high aluminum content: the proportions of three samples were 1743, 1775 and 2350 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg).

According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the lifetime tolerable weekly intake (TWI) is one milligram (mg) of aluminum per kilogram (kg) of body weight. Anyone who ingests large amounts of aluminum risks long-term damage to the nervous system. Reproductive ability and bone development may also be affected.

How big is the real risk?

But how much matcha is too much matcha? It is difficult to assess how great the specific danger posed by green tea powder actually is. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that the very manageable number of samples examined does not allow any statement to be made about the average aluminum content in Matcha tea (and other Matcha products).

And on the other hand, there is no specific data on the consumption of matcha tea for Germany. For its health assessment, the BfR therefore assumed the usual consumption quantities of green tea – which could have led to a distorted result, since the quantities actually drunk could be lower. Despite everything, the assessment of the BfR is worrying for one reason.

The recommended limit is quickly reached

The Institute states: “When considering the consumption levels of green tea, the TWI for aluminum in adults can be exceeded in the long term by regular consumption of matcha tea with maximum measured levels, even if the tea is considered the sole source of aluminum intake and no other aluminum sources be taken into account.”

However, we absorb aluminum every day from a variety of products – from food to cosmetics such as antiperspirants (read more in our article: “Aluminium salts in deodorant: why they are so questionable – and these are the alternatives”). Although only small amounts of aluminum get into our bodies, they add up – and the recommended limit is quickly reached.

Matcha could more than double the TWI in the long term

The BfR emphasizes that according to the data currently available, it is possible that matcha will more than double the TWI in part of the population in the long term. “In view of this situation for consumers, from a toxicological point of view, an additional intake of aluminum through regular (daily) consumption of a single food such as tea, which has such high aluminum contents that the TWI to a a significant part is exhausted or even significantly exceeded,” says the statement.

The institute admits that further research is necessary to be able to reliably assess the health risk. It is therefore still difficult to derive a concrete consumption recommendation. Nevertheless, the research shows that individual foods can be responsible for a large proportion of the amount of aluminum consumed every day – and that we should be aware of the possible risks.

Avatar photo

Written by Micah Stanley

Hi, I'm Micah. I am a creative Expert Freelance Dietitian Nutritionist with years of experience in counseling, recipe creation, nutrition, and content writing, product development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sugar, Caffeine, Harmful Additives

What to Do If Your Cake Is Undercooked in the Middle?