I’m a very vocal proponent of drinking tea daily. People ask me all the time why tea is my go-to and not coffee: well, let’s be clear. I drink coffee, too, but tea has so many mind-body wellness benefits to it that there’s no debating its advantages for well-being. Let’s take a look.
Theanine and Neurotransmitter Regulation
Tea—white, green, matcha, and black—all comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Let’s start our conversation on tea by talking about its compound theanine, also known as L-theanine. The body doesn’t make theanine on its own, and it has a whole host of benefits.
First, theanine affects neurotransmitter production and has been linked to increase dopamine and serotonin and even regulating cortisol levels. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone, so better regulation means less stress. Dopamine and serotonin boost mood and promote better relaxation. Theanine is also connected to better focus and cognitive function, improved sleep, and even weight loss (probably because of its cortisol-reducing benefits).
Caffeine or No Caffeine—Your Choice
Tea comes in many forms, and all of them have different levels of caffeine. White tea contains approximately 15–30 mg per 8-ounce serving. Green teas contain a moderate amount at 35–45 mg per 8-ounce serving, and black teas have the most caffeine per serving, ranging from 40–70 mg per 8-ounce serving. If you like the energy-boosting benefits of caffeine but are sensitive to too much, picking your tea type based on caffeine levels can give you the boost you need, without giving you anxiety issues. Combined with the relaxing benefits of theanine, you’re apt to get a boost of energy, but still feel calm focused and not jittery, unlike a strong cup of black coffee.
For reference, an 8-ounce serving of coffee contains anywhere from 95–200 mg of caffeine.
You can also drink herbal teas that don’t have caffeine. If your tea doesn’t contain leaves from the tea plant Camellia Sinensis, it’s technically a tisane. While a tisane won’t have theanine, it can still be a powerful ally for your health.
Teas, Tisanes, and More Medicinal Benefits
You can make tea and tea blends from common spices and medicinal plants to impart added health benefits for nearly anything you want to improve. When it comes to tea’s wellness benefits, the sky’s the limit for the different blends you can concoct.
Ayurveda commonly uses tisanes as a way to impart the health benefits of spices. A common ayurvedic blend is cumin coriander fennel tea. This particular blend is known for improving digestion, balancing blood sugar, and improving respiratory issues.
Speaking of Ayurveda, in Ayurveda, regular tea is considered both astringent and bitter, and as such brings a host of detoxifying health benefits. Teas are also a great conduit for other medicinal herbs, or even honey. Honey itself has powerful medicinal benefits, with the raw local varieties being used to fight seasonal allergies.
I’m sure you’ve heard all the hype about green tea and matcha, right? Well, there are great reasons for that. Matcha is essentially ground-up green tea leaves, which makes it extra rich in antioxidants. Matcha has a unique type of antioxidant known as catechins, which you can’t find from other food sources. One cup of matcha has the antioxidant equivalent to ten cups of green tea and six times as much antioxidants as goji berries, also known for their extra high amount of antioxidants.
This is important because antioxidants help boost immunity, fight infections, slow down the signs of aging, fight cancer, and even help prevent chronic disease. All of that just from a cup of tea!
When Do You Like Your Tea?
Since you can get pretty much any benefit you want out of tea or a tisane, when you have your beverage is an important consideration in your wellness routine. Tea has been shown to help your brain function better, and as such could make your mornings even more productive than they already are.
Having tea in the morning can impart focus and clarity, whereas having a nice calming herbal or chamomile tisane at night can help you have a better night’s sleep naturally. Maybe you need a slight after lunch pick-me-up (don’t we all) to make it through the afternoon. Whatever your particular need, you can find the right tea blend to support it.
Jaya Jaya Myra is a wellness lifestyle expert and go-to media expert on mind-body wellness, stress management, mindfulness, food for mood, and natural, healthy living. She’s a best-selling author, TEDx and motivational speaker, and creator of The WELL Method for purpose-filled healthy living. Visit JayaJayaMyra.com