Your moment of Zen
Have you ever noticed that a great cup of green, white, black, or Oolong tea just sets you at ease? That while you may feel that energized lift from tea’s natural caffeine that you're more aware, calm, present, and Zen-like than say if you downed double shots of espresso or a hulking mug of black coffee? There’s a reason!
That reason is tea’s magical little amino acid; L-theanine. There is more to tea than meets the eye and it's more than a coincidence that green tea, in particular, has been used for centuries to get monks, scholars, poets, and you, dear reader, into a state of calm. That coincidence is called “L-theanine”!
What is it exactly?
L-theanine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in green tea and its tea family and also in some mushrooms, too. The way L-theanine works is by transmitting chemical signals and waves to the brain that can have positive and beneficial effects on our overall being.
While our bodies do not produce it naturally, nor is it required for our survival it does have a few keen health benefits anyone would want. Some of those health benefits include better mental focus, reduced anxiety and stress, increased relaxation, better sleep, and some possible connections to a boosted immune system with some hints at L-theanine helping to protect us from some chronic ailments.
With powers like these, it is no surprise that monks in Buddhist monasteries and temples across Asia have chosen green tea as their beverage of choice for ages! Sitting in quiet meditation for hours very early in the morning and late into the night can take its toll. But the wise monks had tea’s L-theanine as their secret weapon in pursuing enlightenment. Now, so do you! Though you may not be seeking the answers to the universe’s biggest questions, tea can help you focus and keep your cool in any number of tasks. Enlightenment not required!
What is L-theanine’s effects on caffeine?
Earlier we mentioned how coffee and tea can give us a different type of energy. For many folks, drinking too much coffee can make them feel anxious, jittery, ornery, and then result in a draining caffeine crash. But with tea, this isn’t the case.
We have L-theanine to thank for that! The L-theanine compounds counteract most of caffeine’s negative effects. So while you get to enjoy a boost of energy, you don’t have to pay the price of anxiety, jitters, increased agitation, or the nasty caffeine crash. Do be aware that caffeine is caffeine though, so green tea and the true tea family may not be perfect before bed drink, but they can help wind down the day nonetheless!
Ancient wisdom, modern science
So while the wise and patient monks of old may not have been aware of a complex amino acid in their favourite drink, they did impart us with the knowledge of tea as a calming and soothing drink. With an ability to increase our focus, our alertness, keep us calm, and negate a caffeine crash L-theanine may be the key to enlightenment after all!