Many tea drinkers are familiar with the situation when, after another cup of tea for a long time you can not fall asleep. Why does this happen? Let’s try to figure it out together.
The main ingredients that provide a tonic effect are caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine.
If you go a little deeper into the science – these are plant alkaloids from the group of methylxanthines, in other words – natural psychostimulants. By acting on the central nervous system, they banish sleepiness and give as much energy as slots casino or regular workouts. As in the case of coffee, the main one is caffeine.
What to Know About Caffeine
Caffeine has one interesting feature: it can block the action of adenosine, which plays an important role in stimulating sleep and in suppressing alertness. Imagine turning off the power-saving mode on your smartphone, the screen shining at full brightness again – about the same thing happens to your body when you drink coffee or tea. That’s why you often feel toned when you drink them, even if you haven’t slept for hours.
The caffeine content of different teas is relatively similar and depends on factors such as terroir, type of planting, type of tea (green, red, etc.), size of leaves, time of harvest, and roasting of raw materials.
What Affects Its Content?
Age of the Leaves
The amount of caffeine varies from leaf type to leaf type: the highest amounts are found in buds (tips), young shoots, and leaves when they are vigorously growing. It’s lowest in old leaves and cuttings. Caffeine isn’t contained in the seeds and flowers of the tea bush.
This is something that greatly increases the caffeine levels in tea. If we’re talking about tea plantations where leaves are harvested regularly, at least 4 times a year, the plants may not have enough time to naturally replenish nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. To get a faster harvest, tea growers use fertilizers. Tea leaves from such plantations usually contain more caffeine than those grown in the wild or in organic gardens.
Caffeine content can vary greatly during different periods of the leaf’s growing season. This is influenced by the amount of sunlight, rainfall, and air temperature. Spring tea is said to have the highest caffeine content. After winter, photosynthesis of the old leaves decreases and the same fertilizer helps stimulate the plant to grow. The caffeine content of summer and fall teas is already much lower.
Caffeine itself is chemically stable, and its level is retained in the leaves at all stages of production. Raw material drying and post-fermentation have almost no effect on it.
Features to Know
White tea can contain more caffeine than green or red tea. This is because white tea varieties are usually made from the types or young leaves which have the most caffeine, as is the case with Moon Lake or Lao Bai Tea Bing. They are subjected to minimal heat treatment, so the caffeine level does not change in any way. However, this is an individual thing, and the degree of the invigorating effect depends on many factors, including the brewing method.
The integrity of the leaves influences the caffeine content of the beverage. Broken leaves give off more caffeine than whole leaves. Equal amounts of tea will yield more caffeine than whole-leaf varieties because they need less time to release various substances, including caffeine.
Matcha is an all-day energy boost. When we drink loose-leaf tea, we consume only those substances dissolved in water. In the case of matcha, we consume powdered whole tea leaves, and the caffeine content in the cup increases. That’s why matcha is usually more invigorating than other teas.
The caffeine in tea works differently than in coffee. This is because, besides caffeine, tea contains an important amino acid with a sedative effect, theanine.
Why Is the Effect of Tea Smooth?
Theanine is a free amino acid, which occupies more than 40% of the substances of this group in tea leaves. Although it’s only one hundredth of the weight of dry tea leaves, the interactivity of this substance can be up to 80%. Theanine was first discovered as a component of green tea in 1949, and in 1951 it was separately isolated from Japanese gyokuro tea. Like caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline, it can penetrate the brain through the blood-brain barrier.
In its pure form, theanine is a white needle-like crystal with a bright taste similar to sodium glutamate. It’s also a safe food additive that suppresses bitter substances, which has a better effect on the taste of the drink.
Theanine can have a positive effect on key neurotransmitters in the brain that are associated with stress management, concentration, memory, and mood. Theanine establishes a balance in the neurotransmitter system, and this helps to combat stress and tension, improving the psychological and emotional state of the individual.
Some studies show that theanine, especially when combined with caffeine, can improve concentration and brain function, and when combined, they work softer and longer than pure caffeine does in the case of coffee. As a rule, after brewing tea, the caffeine is the first to dissolve in the water, but further in the process of tea drinking, theanine starts to come out in the infusion, and it compensates for the tonic effect, giving more concentration and at the same time a feeling of relaxation.
Theanine can contribute significantly to the release of dopamine and improve physiological activity in the brain. Dopamine is a central neurotransmitter whose activity is closely linked to people’s emotional states. It directly affects our mood by significantly increasing it.
Tea is a unique beverage; it contains two such seemingly contradictory components, which almost simultaneously provide both invigoration, concentration, and relaxation. Tea has caffeine, which blocks the “sleep hormone,” and it has theanine, which releases the “happiness hormone” and helps soften the tonic effect. Therefore, its effect is usually milder and smoother than that of coffee.
To be able to drink tea and not suffer from insomnia afterward, we recommend adhering to the following rules:
- Don’t drink tea for 3-5 hours before going to bed. It’s better not to drink tea 3-5 hours before going to sleep. Especially if you want to fall asleep quickly at night because the impact of tea will have already disappeared by that time.
- What if you like to drink tea in the evening? Caffeine is found in tea made from the tea plant Camellia Sinensis and its varieties. Herbal teas and floral supplements like Ku Qiao or Evening Tea have no caffeine, so they’re great for tea drinking before bedtime.
- And if you don’t like herbs? Choose fermented teas or varieties with older leaves. The polyphenols in fermented red tea or post-fermented puerh, such as Ye Tian Cha or Tree Elixir, reduce the chance of stomach and intestinal irritation, and they also interact easily with caffeine and can relatively reduce the chance of insomnia.
- Rinse the tea with hot water. Generally, after a quick soak in hot water (no more than 15 seconds), much of the caffeine is dissolved in the tea. This simple procedure will reduce the tonic effect of the drink.
- Drink light tea. If you drink tea before going to bed, brew it in a less concentrated way. Then there will be less caffeine in the infusion.
Remember that, as with coffee, the effect of caffeine on the body is individual – some people drink strong tea, while others feel relaxed. After long-term consumption of a richly brewed drink, you may develop a tolerance to caffeine, and the invigorating effect will be lower.