“All About L-theanine”
If you’re a tea drinker, you’re probably familiar with the soothing feeling that accompanies a good cup of tea – and now this calming, stress-reducing effect is backed by science! Research shows that tea made from the camellia sinensis plant contains l-theanine, a beneficial compound that helps to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation and wellbeing.
L-theanine is found primarily in tea, as well as in some types of mushrooms. While l-theanine is also available in supplement form, you can reap just as many benefits with an ordinary cup of tea!
WHAT IS L-THEANINE?
Studies show that l-theanine can help to reduce stress & and anxiety. L-theanine works by blocking excitatory neurotransmitters like glutamate, resulting in feelings of calm and relaxation. L-theanine also stimulates a related neurotransmitter called GABA, which produces its own calming, anxiety-reducing effects. Unlike compounds with similar properties, l-theanine doesn’t contribute to drowsiness or a lack of alertness. Instead, the l-theanine present in tea provides a soothing, calming effect without making you feel sleepy!
L-THEANINE IN TEA
Aside from its potent stress-reducing effects, l-theanine is also responsible for the umami taste in tea. This savory-sweet characteristic gives tea a rich depth of flavor 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 particularly 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 especially high in l-theanine. This includes shaded full leaf teas like Gyokuro and Kabusecha as well as Matcha, which is a form of powdered shade-grown green tea. The shading process induces a stress response in the tea plant, resulting in elevated levels of 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 that are 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 can be difficult to accurately measure the l-theanine content in a particular tea. One hint that a tea may be high in l-theanine is if it has a distinct umami-like flavor. While studies indicate that some types of tea contain slightly more l-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.
OTHER BENEFITS OF L-THEANINE
In addition to its use as an aid for stress-relief and relaxation, l-theanine has been shown to have a variety of 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 benefits including boosting the immune system, reducing blood pressure, and even warding off certain types of cancer. When combined with 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 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!