Black and green teas are rich in antioxidants that help fight and prevent free radicals that destroy cells and tissues. Making drinking a cup of tea a healthy choice. Plus, the reason so many people find a cup of tea relaxing. l-theanine helps many people reduce stress and anxiety. Green tea also contains vitamin C, minerals and essential oils. Two cups of green tea has as much vitamin C as a glass of orange juice. Tea also contains potassium, niacin, folic acid, manganese, vitamin B, B1 and B2. Which is why I recommended a strong cup of green tea with honey, cinnamon and lemon for colds. Or adding rose-hips if you have them. However, overall I believe the most useful ingredient is theanine due to it’s ability to help you relax and lower anxiety. Remember the difference between Green Tea and Black Tea, is when the teas leaves are picked. They are coming from the same plant. It’s the immature tea leaves that make green tea.

According to Wikipedia:

THEANINE is an amino acid and glutamic acid analogue, commonly found in tea (infusions of Camellia sinensis), capable of producing a feeling of relaxation. Theanine produces these effects by increasing the level of production of gamma-aminobutyric acid, it affects serotonin levels and dopamine in the brain and inhibits excitable toxicity of glutamic acid. This amino acid is available mainly in green tea, black tea and other oriental varieties.

Theanine has psychoactive stimulant properties, reducing effect on physical and mental stress, improved cognition and mood, in a synergistic manner with caffeine. It is a cognitive enhancer that promotes alertness, attention-concentration, activating the temporal, frontal, parietal, and occipital area of the brain, improving memory processes and learning; It stimulates neurogenesis, hippocampal activity and slows cognitive decline.

Several beverage manufacturers have put on sale products containing theanine and marketed as beverages that promote concentration, while other manufacturers claim to have relaxing and anxiolytic properties.

Supported Evidence

1Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. Tea is known to be a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants. However tea also contains a unique amino acid, L-theanine that may modulate aspects of brain function in humans. Evidence from human electroencephalograph (EEG) studies show that it has a direct effect on the brain (Juneja et al. Trends in Food Science & Tech 1999;10;199-204). L-theanine significantly increases activity in the alpha frequency band which indicates that it relaxes the mind without inducing drowsiness. However, this effect has only been established at higher doses than that typically found in a cup of black tea (approximately 20mg). The aim of the current research was to establish this effect at more realistic dietary levels. EEG was measured in healthy, young participants at baseline and 45, 60, 75, 90 and 105 minutes after ingestion of 50mg L-theanine (n=16) or placebo (n=19). Participants were resting with their eyes closed during EEG recording. There was a greater increase in alpha activity across time in the L-theanine condition (relative to placebo (p+0.05). A second study replicated this effect in participants engaged in passive activity. These data indicate that L-theanine, at realistic dietary levels, has a significant effect on the general state of mental alertness or arousal. Furthermore, alpha activity is known to play an important role in critical aspects of attention, and further research is therefore focussed on understanding the effect of L-theanine on attentional processes.

1Unilever Food and Health Research Institute, Olivier van Noortlaan 120, Postbus 114, 3130 AC Vlaardingen, The Netherlands.

Note: There are other studies, but I didn’t want to overload you with studies on this. Just wanted to show one. If you’re interested in following up on this, you can do a search and find a whole slue of studies on the subject.

What Is L-Theanine?

2L-theanine, or theanine, is a water soluble amino acid that’s found in tea leaves; it’s also available in higher concentrations as a dietary supplement (one dose equaling approximately 10 cups of tea). When you drink tea, l-theanine passes through the blood-brain barrier and affects the brain directly.

  1. L-theanine shares a very similar chemical structure to the neurotransmitter glutamate – which is a transmitter involved in learning and memory.
  2. Consuming theanine increases the production of GABA and dopamine.

2 Dietary and Botanical Anxiolytics 

My thoughts

In other words, the L-Theanine helps you relax, be more alert and aids in concentration. No wonder “wise” older people drink tea. And since both black and green tea leaves have this same L-Theanine benefit, it’s your choice which one you want to drink. As for herbal teas, I’ve found many herbal blends don’t have either black or green tea leaves in them, due to getting away from caffeine. So you have to decide what you want out of your cup of tea. I like my herbal teas, don’t get me wrong. But I can see making sure I mix actual tea leaves with herbal mixes, for the benefits they provide. Caffeine isn’t as bad as some people think it is either. It actually has some health benefits also, if not used in excess. It’s when you use anything in excess that you get the problems. I wouldn’t suggest you drink several cups of tea a day. That would be in excess. But having one or two relaxing cups of tea at the end of the day is a good way to unwind and keep your balance. Plus having it help you keeping your cognitive abilities sharp, isn’t a bad payoff either.

For a great selection of black and green teas try the Heavenly Tea Leaves Tea Sampler, 9 Flavor Variety Pack  you’ll get flavors with the leaves.


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