We've all been sipping on tea for its calming effects -- but few of us know why, exactly, this widely-drunk beverage is helping us keep our cool. While different tea varieties have different benefits, the most powerful health benefits of tea are found in their high antioxidants and calming superpower compound: l-theanine. This amino acid compound is known to have incredible effects on heathy brain functioning, sleep, and even mood. In this blog, we'll begin to understand what l-theanine is and why it's the hidden game changer in tea.
What is L Theanine?
L-theanine is an amino acid compound that is not naturally produced in the body. Instead, it is found in the camellia sinensis tea plant. All teas that are made from this plant, which is all green teas, black teas, oolong and white tea, contain l theanine in varying amounts. Herbal teas are not typically made from camellia sinensis, and therefore don't contain l-theanine.
Health Benefits of L-Theanine
L-theanine is a glutamate blocker, which means that it blocks neurotransmitters that lead to anxiety and excitement. At the same time, l-theanine stimulates GABA, which is a calming neurotransmitter.
The effect of l-theanine on serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain helps to regulate emotions, sleep, and even appetite. Studies have also shown l-theanine to stimulate the release of alpha-waves, which are known to enhance alertness and creativity. The combination of l-theanines blocking and stimulating effects
While l-theanine is effective in reducing stress, it doesn't lead to drowsiness like other similar compounds. Instead, it is actually known to contribute to concentration and focus by enhancing cognitive function.
L-Theanine in Tea
Beyond just contributing health benefits, l-theanine is also known to create the umami, lightly savory taste found in some teas. Teas with especially high levels of l-theanine are known to have a somewhat "grassy" or vegetal flavor. An example is matcha green tea, which contains particularly high levels of l-theanine. Though most teas come from the same plant, there are other factors that impact the l-theanine content in tea.
- Harvest time: teas that are harvested earlier in the Spring are known to have higher levels of l-theanine
- Processing methods: l-theanine is typically found in teas that are more minimally processed -- usually white or green teas.
Growing practices: teas that are grown in shade are known to be higher in l-theanine. Matcha, for instance, is a shade-grown green tea which is high in l-theanine. The shading process generates a stress response in the tea plant that results in higher levels of both l-theanine and caffeine.
Any cup of tea made from the camellia sinensis plant will contain some l-theanine, but these factors may significantly alter the amount of the compound found in each sip.
How Much L-theanine is in Tea?
As previously stated, different kinds of tea contain different amounts of l-theanine. But on average a cup of green tea contains around 6.56 mg of l-theanine. Black tea contains closer to 5 mg, and oolong and white teas fall in the middle of the two.
When you're shopping for loose leaf tea on the Mosi website, you can learn more about the different levels of l-theanine found in different kinds of tea. Each tea listing shows the caffeine and theanine levels on a scale from one to three.
L-Theanine and Caffeine
Both l-theanine and caffeine are compounds found in many of your favorite teas. As we know, caffeine is a stimulant, which means that it energizes the mind and body by stimulating the nervous system.
While l-theanine does share some energizing properties, it also is well-known for its powerful calming effects. This means that, when paired together, l theanine and caffeine may just be the perfect balance of energy that you need to fuel your day.
Caffeine is often associated with shakiness, jitters or anxiety -- all of which can be reduced with the intake of l theanine. Many coffee lovers are slowly switching to matcha for this very reason. And many have found that they have much steadier, jitter-free energy throughout the day.
In short, the combination of caffeine and theanine improves cognitive function and can increase overall alertness.
Teas With High L-Theanine Content
Mosi's Vanilla Matcha
Mosi's Vanilla Matcha tea is a garden-picked matcha from Japan. It's paired with a warm vanilla from Australia for a lightly sweet flavor, perfect served as either a hot or iced latte. Because matcha green tea is shade-grown and garden-picked in the springtime, it is higher in l-theanine and caffeine.
Because matcha tea is a concentrate, it contains higher levels of all antioxidants as well, making this a tea choice packed with countless health benefits.
Mosi's Green Mint
Mosi's Green Mint tea is a soothing green tea blend made with garden-picked green tea from Darjeeling and North Bengal. The green tea base is paired with peppermint, spearmint and lemongrass to aid in the calming effect of the tea and add a subtle, refreshing sweetness.
This green tea option is lower in caffeine than other varieties, but maintains a higher level of l-theanine for a cognitive boost.
Mosi's Everest Oolong
Mosi's Everest Oolong tea is a rare, hand-picked Darjeeling oolong tea with complex notes of grape and tannin. Woody and lightly sweet, these tea leaves are unique to describe but delicious to taste. If you're looking to get your dose of l theanine in, but you're not a green tea fan, this could be a great option for you to try out.
Other Benefits of L-Theanine in Tea
Beyond just aiding in stress-relief, l theanine may boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure, and aid in sleep quality.
For all of these reasons and more, tea is often associated with mindfulness and meditation -- which both require a healthy cognitive state, alertness, and general calmness.
If you're looking to add a daily dose of concentration and calmness to your routine, make sure to check out teas that are higher in l-theanine. Whether you're a green tea fanatic or are looking to try something unique like oolong tea, there is a tea packed with this unique compound out there just for you.
Check out our wide range of loose leaf teas on our website!