L-Theanine - Tea's super power
Updated: May 2
Tea has a hidden super power, it provides relaxing effect on he brain without causing drowsiness, reduces stress and improves mental performance. It is a curious little amino acid called L-Theanine.
Discovered in 1949 by Japanese scientists this molecule has been studied for its effects on the brain. When ingested it has been shown to be absorbed into the hippocampus part of our grey matter, which is associated with emotions, memories and learning. Its passage into this part of brain has lead to tests on its ability to reduce stress by improving memory impairment during tasks with increased tension. Other research has suggested that L-Theanine can increase certain types of brain waves which are associated with relaxation and attention. But the super power within tea is how this molecule compliments its more well known partner; caffeine.
Caffeine is a well known stimulant of the central nervous system, blocking the action of adenosine in the body to prevent drowsiness. This has long been used to wake us up in the morning or get us through late nights. However too much caffeine on its own can lead to a more anxious state, which you will probably be aware of if you have ever drunk too much coffee. However tea partners up this famous stimulant with the relaxing aspects of L-theanine, which provides a counter balance to the caffeine buzz. There is a much more even feel to the way that way that a cup of tea can wake you up in the morning, its more of a gliding rise rather than a jarring jolt. There are theories that the L-Theanine slows the uptake of caffeine into the body and this provides a more consistent release over time. Rather than with coffee when all the caffeine hits you at once, in tea the caffeine is released slowly over time in a controlled manner.
So if you want to bring a bit more balance to your life then try switching from coffee to tea. This switch means you can reap the benefits of this amazing amino acid and potentially improve your concentration through the day. L-theanine gives tea the cool calm super powers which have helped it to become the 2nd most consumed drink in the entire world (after water).