Does Drinking Tea Reduce Stress?
Green tea is high in a compound called L-theanine, which has anti-anxiety effects and may help raise your dopamine levels. For instance, that drinking tea lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And evidence of long-term health benefits is emerging, too. Drinking at least 100 millilitres (about half a cup) of green tea a day seems to lower the risk of developing depression and dementia. Some herbal teas may help take the edge off occasional stress and anxiety, while others may be better used as a routine complementary therapy for an underlying condition. Peppermint tea helps combat stress-inducing feelings such as anxiety. Peppermint tea may also be helpful if you're feeling fatigued.
Green Tea Is High In L-Theanine
Black tea is probably the best known of all the teas as the Chinese have brewed it for centuries. Black tea contains caffeine, a stimulant, so it's not good to drink at night. Black tea also contains two chemicals that help reduce the symptoms of anxiety. One is catechins. The other is theobromine.
These can increase the amount of serotonin your body makes. Silymarin, a soluble antioxidant found in a minority of teas, is also thought to help. L-theanine is the most powerful. Silymarin is also a memory booster and may help protect against Alzheimer's. Studies have shown that black tea may help relieve depression. So there's an evidence base for trying black tea, but the effects may not be long-lasting.
Aside from its potent stress-reducing effects, l-theanine is also responsible for the umami taste in tea. This savoury-sweet characteristic gives the tea a rich depth of flavour in addition to its unique health benefits. While l-theanine is present in all loose leaf tea made from the camellia Sinensis plant, certain teas like Matcha, shade-grown green teas and first flush teas contain exceptionally high levels of l-theanine. Factors that can influence the l-theanine content in tea include:
- Growing practices – Shade-grown Japanese teas tend to be incredibly high in l-theanine. This includes shaded whole leaf teas like Gyokuro and Kabusecha and Matcha, a form of powdered shade-grown green tea. The shading process induces a stress response in the tea plant, resulting in elevated l-theanine, caffeine, and other beneficial properties.
- Processing methods – L-theanine may be better-preserved in teas that undergo minimal processing. This includes minimally processed green teas and white teas. However, research concerning the effect of tea processing methods on l-theanine levels is still ongoing, with some studies demonstrating conflicting evidence.
- Harvest time – Teas harvested early in the spring, including first flush teas and silver needle teas, tend to be higher in l-theanine.
Without access to precise scientific tools, it cannot be easy to accurately measure the l-theanine content in a particular tea. One hint that tea may be high in l-theanine is if it has a distinct umami-like flavour. While studies indicate that some types of tea contain slightly morel-theanine, all types of tea made from the camellia Sinensis plant contain some l-theanine, making whatever cup of tea you fancy a healthful choice including black, white, oolong, and purple tea. Herbal teas won't contain any l-theanine since they're not made from the camellia Sinensis tea plant.
Teas That Are High In L-Theanine
Some teas that are exceptionally high in l-theanine include:
Gyokuro Green Tea
Gyokuro is a premium shade-grown tea produced in Japan. This tea is highly prized by dedicated tea drinkers and brews up a beautiful emerald colour with a rich, almost oceanic flavour and a full body. Gyokuro is shade-grown for up to three weeks before harvest, contributing to this unique tea's high l-theanine levels.
Kabusecha Green Tea
Like Gyokuro, Kabusecha is another shade-grown Japanese green tea that's high in l-theanine. Kabusecha is shaded for a slightly shorter period of time than Gyokuro, typically about two weeks. It has a slightly lighter body than Gyokuro but shares the unique savoury-sweet umami quality.
Himalayan Spring White Tea
Himalayan Spring is a premium white tea grown in Nepal. This tea is a first flush harvested early in the spring season and is high in l-theanine and other beneficial properties. It has a light, delicate taste, with notes of stone fruit.
Monteviot First Flush Darjeeling Black Tea
Our Monteviot First Flush Darjeeling is an exceptional first flush Indian black tea. This tea is lighter and subtler than a traditional second flush Darjeeling, with floral notes and an astringent bite. First flush Darjeelings are often nicknamed “the champagne of teas” for their exceptionally high quality.
In addition to loose leaf tea, l-theanine is also found in Matcha, a powdered green tea from Japan with an umami-packed flavour. Since Matcha is made from the whole leaves of tea plants ground into a fine, bright green powder, it contains more concentrated levels of everything that makes tea so healthful, including l-theanine. If you're not in the mood for a traditional bowl of Matcha, you can also add culinary-grade Matcha to smoothies, lattes, and more.
Benefits Of Drinking Tea
Better Mental Focus
Many people drink black or green tea while at work, believing that it boosts their mental focus. A 2012 study, Trusted Source, supports this idea.
The researchers found that people who took 100 milligrams (mg) of L-theanine made fewer errors in an attention task than those in the placebo group—drinking 50 mg of caffeine or combining L-theanine and caffeine also improved people's focus.
More research is necessary to determine how L-theanine might affect a person's attention and focus.
L-theanine may help people sleep more easily.
Several studies have suggested that L-theanine could help people relax before bedtime, get to sleep more quickly, and sleep more deeply.
These benefits may result from the specific effects of amino acids on brain chemicals that play a role in sleep.
A 2018 study, Trusted Source, found that people reported having greater sleep satisfaction after taking 450–900 mg of L-theanine daily for 8 weeks. The study participants had generalized anxiety disorder and were taking antidepressants.
The authors noted that there were no reported improvements in anxiety or insomnia severity.
People often drink a cup of tea or another hot beverage to help them relax. Research suggests that the L-theanine in green or black tea may contribute to this feeling of relaxation by reducing a person's resting heart rate.
Increased Cognitive Performance
In 2016, researchers reviewed the existing research on the benefits of L-theanine and concluded that this compound could benefit a person's mental and physical health. They noted that it seems to have neuroprotective effects, which improve brain function.
On its own, L-theanine may improve a person's attention and reaction times. In combination with caffeine, it may lead to improvements in their number skills and alertness. Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can help people stay alert and focused.
However, not all research has found that L-theanine can improve people's cognitive abilities. There is a need for more high-quality research to clarify the effects of this compound on people's mental functions.
As part of a calorie-controlled diet, replacing a snack with green tea or another low-calorie hot beverage could aid in weight loss.
The L-theanine in green tea can create a savoury taste, also known as umami flavour. Research Trusted Source suggests that umami flavours may reduce appetite, which often helps with weight loss.
Boosting The Immune System
L-theanine may support the body in fighting off illness. Several studies have suggested that taking L-theanine could boost a person's immune system, making them less likely to get common colds or the flu.
Its potential anti-inflammatory effects could also help fight illness.
Reducing Blood Pressure
Research has linked high blood pressure with a higher risk of several health problems, including heart attack and stroke.
L-theanine may help reduce stress, and a reduction in stress and increased relaxation can lower the heart rate. In turn, this may help lower blood pressure.
“There's a lot of literature out there on tea and heart health,” said Anna Ardine, clinical nutrition manager at Magee Women's Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “This is a health effect for which there is the strongest evidence.”
A study published in 2016 that combined data from a host of earlier reports found a nearly 20% reduction in the risk of heart attack and a 35% reduced risk of stroke among those who drank one to three cups of green tea a day. Those who drank four or more cups of green tea daily had a 32% reduction in the risk of having a heart attack and lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Four cups of green tea may keep you running to the bathroom, but you can get the same benefit from drinking one cup of matcha tea made from ground green tea leaves and is said to be the nutritional equivalent of 10 cups of regular green tea.
Supporting Certain Cancer Drugs
Some research on animals suggests that L-theanine may increase the effectiveness of a chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin. It may make doxorubicin more effective by increasing the amount of the drug in cancer cells.
In addition to its use as an aid for stress relief and relaxation, l-theanine has been shown to have various related benefits. While l-theanine doesn't contribute to drowsiness or lack of focus, it can be used as an effective sleep aid to help promote deep, high-quality rest.
L-theanine also has other beneficial effects, including boosting the immune system, reducing blood pressure, and even warding off certain types of cancer. When combined with the caffeine in a cup of tea, l-theanine has been shown to promote focus and clarity, making it a great study aid. The combination of caffeine and l-theanine helps to promote cognitive function and increase alertness and attention.
No matter what kind of tea you enjoy, drinking tea can be especially beneficial for stress relief and can be a welcome moment of calm in an otherwise hectic day. Both scientific research and personal experience suggest that a cup of tea can be a great way to unwind, relax, and destress. Next time you're feeling overwhelmed by life, take a moment to brew up a cup and enjoy!
As well as soothing your anxiety, drinking tea is an effective way to relax and calm down. Drinking tea at different times throughout the day can help you unwind. You can enjoy the calming benefits of tea either hot, on the go, or in your own personal, relaxing hot bath. Drinking tea can also help you sleep, making it a helpful aid for those who are awake at night, fretting about something.
To have a hot beverage that's better for you, select a tea with low or no caffeine, such as an herbal tea. If you're a non-tea drinker, consider your everyday hot drink options, such as coffee, caffeine.
While there have been few conclusive studies confirming the health benefits of tea, medical professionals around the world promote the beverage for different health qualities:
- According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, green tea contains the highest amount of polyphenol antioxidants of any tea variety. This has been linked to lower cholesterol and faster metabolism and may even prevent certain cancers or diabetes.
- White tea has high levels of flavonoids, Oregon State University reports, reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes.
- According to a study published in the Nutrients journal, black tea may improve blood circulation, leading to lower instances of heart disease and high blood pressure. Data from recent animal studies have shown that green tea may prevent bone loss. Moringa, a plant native to South Asia, has been known for its medicinal properties and is now quickly becoming a mainstream superfood. With more calcium than milk and iron, vitamin A and K, moringa tea is a great addition to help keep those bones strong.
Drinking these teas may help with mild symptoms of depression. But it's important to know that depression is a severe mental health condition. If depression is interfering with your daily life, talk with your doctor.
Stress And Anxiety
Scientists are also trying to identify the significant active compounds that give tea its mental-health benefits and whether they work alone or combined with other compounds present in the drink. Tea catechins — antioxidants such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) — account for up to 42% of the dry weight of brewed green tea, and the amino acid L-theanine makes up around 3%.
EGCG is thought to make people feel calmer and improve memory and attention when consumed on its own. L-theanine is found to have a similar effect when consumed in combination with caffeine. Up to 5% of the dry weight of green tea is caffeine, which is known to improve mood, alertness and cognition.
The effect of tea on behaviour is slightly paradoxical, says Andrew Scholey, a psychopharmacologist at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. “Tea is calming but alerting at the same time,” he says while sipping a cup of Earl Grey tea.
Explorations into the effects of tea on behaviour and mental health come at a time of growing scientific interest in the role of nutrition in mental health and preventive medicine. Physicians need more ways to tackle anxiety, depression, and age-related cognitive decline — these conditions place a massive burden on health systems and limited treatment options.
“There isn't much out there,” says Scholey. “The idea that maybe dietary agents can help slow the decline could have enormous implications for preventative health.”
Stefan Borgwardt, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of Basel, Switzerland, similarly laments the lack of available therapies — around one-third of all people with anxiety and depression never find effective therapy, he says.
But he is cautious about the benefits tea can have for people who are clinically depressed. “It's important not to overestimate the effects,” he says. Although there is clear evidence of moderate improvements to the mood in healthy populations, studies have yet to demonstrate that tea can help people with mental illness. In addition, researchers need to strengthen their understanding of how the active constituents of tea act on the body, as well as the doses required to produce short- and long-term effects.
Nervous System Health
Caffeine causes your adrenal glands to release cortisol, a hormone that stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to produce adrenaline and your body's fight or flight response. This is important during a potentially stressful situation. But the chemicals in caffeine increase your heart rate and blood pressure, so too much caffeine may worsen your health.
Regular caffeine intake may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Although their therapeutic benefits are immense, they do have contributed exclusively to the neural health of living beings. Likewise, the polyphenols of green tea are reported extensively in preventing neuronal degradation by inhibiting neurotoxin formation in cells.
Tea For Stress And Depression
- Best for reducing anxiety: Chamomile tea
- Best for sleep problems: St. John's wort tea
- Best for improving mood: Lemon balm tea
- Best for multiple health benefits: Green tea
- Best for a calming effect: Ashwagandha tea
Depression is a common mental health condition that can negatively affect how you feel, think, and act, often causing a general loss of interest in things and a persistent feeling of sadness.
In mild forms, herbal teas may work to lift your mood and fight the physical symptoms of depression. For centuries, people have been drinking herbal tea for its natural benefits and pleasant taste.
Some studies suggest drinking tea could be helpful in the treatment of depression.
Tea For Dementia
They found that study participants who routinely drank black, green or oolong tea brewed directly from tea leaves were 50 percent less likely to experience cognitive decline and decreased risk for developing Alzheimer's.
A good cup of tea can be a simple indulgence each day, but research shows that there may be even more to love about this drink.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, recorded tea drinking began around the year 350. Ever since, it's been a hot commodity in global trading, a social staple in many cultures and, in some cases, a standard medicine.
The medicinal value of tea has been the subject of many studies to test its effects on everything from stress levels to diabetes. Now, a team of scientists with the National University of Singapore believes it can add “possible may help prevent dementia” to the list of tea's nutritional qualities. “Tea leaves may defend the brain from degenerative diseases.”
Tea can slow the progression of dementia or slow the decline in someone who is already suffering. So far, there isn't a cure for the disease, but this may be a possible new way to slow down symptoms.
Admittedly, all of these drinks might make you feel a little more in control of your day, but studies show that all of these beverages can make you more likely to binge drink, binge eats, skip the gym and push your limits. So that's not such a great plan, but it doesn't mean you can't find your balance.
Drinking tea in moderation to relax and improve your outlook could be good for you. Not drinking tea and exercising will only slow your progress down.
Health & Beauty
Tea is essentially the original beauty treatment.
Whether you drink hot or cold tea or drink it all day or for just one session, the next time you feel stressed or anxious, choose a soothing hot beverage that will help you relax. Here's to making every cup of tea count!
Experts consider L-theanine to be generally safe for people to take as a supplement, but more research is necessary to confirm its possible health benefits. Small studies and animal research suggest that L-theanine could help with relaxation, improved sleep quality, and neuroprotection.
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