By William I. Lengeman III
As noted in a recent post on this site, there are quite a few studies that have been carried out in recent years that suggest that tea might be an aid in alleviating fatigue. Oddly enough, it seems that this same beverage apparently also possess qualities that may help to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
The relaxing effects of certain herbal teas – and particularly chamomile – are well known, but it appears that real tea, or in other words the kind of tea derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, also shares similar qualities. For a lot of people who switch from coffee to tea, it’s these qualities, not to mention the fact that tea is generally believed to contain less caffeine, that makes it appealing.
The contemplative and spiritual aspects of tea ceremonies and rituals are helpful in reducing stress for many tea drinkers, but there is some evidence that there are actual compounds in tea that might have the same effect. A considerable amount of research has been focused on L-theanine, a compound that researchers at City University of New York have found might decrease alpha rhythms in the brain during the performance of complex tasks. This allows for greater concentration.
An earlier study was carried out by University College London researchers, who found that participants who drank a black tea-based drink had lower levels of stress hormone called cortisol after a stressful event. Researcher Professor Andrew Steptoe called this one of the first such studies “to assess tea in a double-blind placebo controlled design.”
A previous study, this one by researchers in the Netherlands, looked at EEG readings of the participants and found that L-theanine had “a significant effect on the general state of mental alertness or arousal.” Additional research has found that young women who took part in a study on L-theanine generated alpha waves in their brains in an amount that corresponded with how much of the compound they had ingested.
William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks, is another great place to read-up on tea!