Caffeine In Tea: Friend Or Foe?
Caffeine fuels many and disgusts some. Are you a caffeine junky who needs to get lit on coffee before lunchtime? Do you abstain and equate caffeine to drug use?
What's the deal?
Are all caffeinated beverages created equal? Is caffeine bad for you? How much is too much?
If you live in the US, coffee is likely the caffeinated beverage that comes to mind. But, caffeine occurs naturally in tea.
I got highly tea-d up and read all the conflicting information, so you don't have to. Let's do a deep dive into caffeine.
What does caffeine do to the brain?
Drugs work by blocking specific receptors in the brain and changing our cognition. (The specifics are complicated and very cool. I encourage you to look it up if you're interested in how our neural synapses work.)
Caffeine is no exception. As it turns out, it works just like other drugs. It blocks adenosine from communicating with its receptors. The result is a false message. Adenosine's job is to tell your brain and body to sleep.
The molecules hang out between 4 to 6 hours in the receptor. Caffeine blocks the path, and adenosine can't deliver the memo. Your need for sleep doesn't go away. But caffeine cuts off communication.
Is that a bad thing?
Even though you're altering your mental state, a food toxicology report on the effects of caffeine has nothing negative to say. Essentially, caffeine helps you focus, increases reaction time, and aids concentration.
For the general public, caffeine appears to impact performance positively. Granted, it should not be overdone. But that can be said for pretty much everything. The only contraindication was anxiety.
Is all caffeine the same?
Caffeine occurs naturally in both coffee and tea. But the physical response varies drastically from one to the other.
Quantity is one factor, but not the major one. Other chemicals present can switch up your physical and mental reactions!
Caffeine in Coffee vs. Tea
Coffee contains 95 mg of caffeine per every 8 oz cup. A mug contains between 12 and 16 oz of liquid. We rarely drink just 8 oz.
A shot of espresso contains 63 mg. You probably don't drink straight espresso. If you're a latte lover, your chemical combo also includes sugar as a chemical stimulant.
Do you experience jitters, antsiness, or a crash when you drink coffee?
You may have a different experience with caffeinated tea.
Matcha Green Tea
Matcha is the most caffeinated variety of tea. A serving contains 70 mg of caffeine (slightly more than espresso.)
Even though matcha and espresso have similar caffeine levels, the experience is different. Compounds in tea leaves change the effects.
L-Theanine is an amino acid in tea that stimulates the meditation centers in your brain. It will soothe you without causing drowsiness.
Drinking tea with caffeine and L-theanine gives you a sense of calm awareness and focus.
Loose Leaf Teas
An 8 oz serving of black tea contains roughly 47 mg of caffeine. You can enjoy black tea hot or iced.
Black tea is the same plant as green tea, just processed differently. (All true teas contain the Camellia sinensis plant.)
All authentic tea contains a combination of L-theanine and caffeine in different quantities.
Oolong tea is moderately caffeinated.
Green tea, only steamed or pan-fired, is not oxidized. It has a low level of naturally occurring caffeine.
White tea is a pure tea leaf that has not been oxidized or processed. The caffeine content in white tea varies.
So, shall we caffeinate?
Despite all the conflicting opinions on the topic, researchers declare caffeine a healthy and helpful stimulant.
Yes, caffeine is technically a drug.
Yes, caffeine can be addictive.
But is that a bad thing? In moderation, drinking caffeinated beverages increases focus and mental clarity. Just remember, caffeine is not a substitute for sleep!
A couple of mugs of tea a day can help increase reaction time, creativity, and calm. Enjoy the natural chemical compounds in the leaves! Caffeinate on, my friend! This case has ruled in our favor.