Matcha is having a moment. The green tea powder is a staple in Japan where it’s commonly used in traditional tea ceremonies. Beloved for it’s earthy flavor and deep color, matcha also has a surplus of free-radical fighting antioxidants. Starbucks is already a player in the matcha game, selling the powder under the Teavana label and using it in such drinks as their green tea latte. Now they’re doubling up, selling a matcha pudding snack. But parents probably shouldn’t pass their pudding-hungry kid the tiny, precious, green package. Because matcha contains caffeine.
“Nobody really knows what it does to the brain. Especially when it’s developing,” Schneider explains. “We know caffeine makes people’s hearts speed, and blood pressure increase. And we know kids get addicted to it.”
Schneider suggests regarding Starbucks pudding cautiously. After all, a standard cup of matcha, prepared the traditional way, has more than 40 mg of caffeine according to Starbucks website (a 16-ounce green tea latte has about 80 mg). That’s less than a cup of coffee but more than a glass of soda. But the caffeine content of the pudding is unknown. Also, Starbucks is under no obligation by the U.S. to report the amount of caffeine in its products.
And that could be a problem, Schneider notes, because a person’s reaction to caffeine is dependent on their weight. “A little person is going to have a different response than a bigger person,” Schneider says. “The reality is that because of the effect of caffeine, the general consensus is that kids shouldn’t be having caffeine, period.”
Currently, the matcha pudding is exclusive to Starbucks in Japan. The company has not said if it will be released in the United States, caffeinated or not. So, for now, the biggest danger is likely over-caffeinated Japanese kids, who will continue to pwn you on Call of Duty.