Why is Tea Good for Anxiety? The answer lies in L-theanine

Tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, second only to water. It has long been known that different types of tea (green tea, black tea, matcha green tea, etc) have a calming effect. You may have assumed that was all down to sipping on a warm drink while relaxing in a comfy chair, but research reveals that the amino acid L-theanine that different types of teas contain is why drinking tea is so good for relaxing and reducing anxiety. We look at why this is, as well as reccomending the best tea types & brands for reducing anxiety

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Tea for anxiety: why is tea and L-theanine good for fighting anxiety & stage fright?

Tea is the second most widely consumed beverage in the world after water. It originated in Southwest China thousands of years ago. At that time, people drank tea for medicinal purposes.

Although it is no longer used as a medicine, people all around the world are still consuming tea. In the United States alone, 80 percent of households have tea in their kitchens. Around half of Americans drink tea on a regular basis.

People drink tea for a variety of reasons. Some enjoy the pleasing aroma, while others drink tea to rehydrate. Additionally, tea is full of beneficial antioxidants.

But what about anxiety? Can drinking tea help you feel calmer? The answer is: yes, tea might have some anti-stress effects.

In a 2017 study, researchers gave low-caffeine green tea to one group of students, and a placebo to another. The green tea group experienced a reduction in stress [1]. Another Japanese study found that matcha green tea can reduce anxiety in mice [2].

Here, we’ll explore some of the ingredients in tea that promote relaxation and help with anxiety. We’ll also list the three types of teas that are best after a stressful day.

Why is tea good for anxiety?

There is one ingredient in tea that seems to play a significant role in its anti-stress effects. That ingredient is L-theanine.

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L-theanine & Anxiety

L-theanine is an amino acid that is found in tea leaves. It may have several health benefits like relaxation, cognitive focus, and better sleep [8]. You can only get L-theanine from dietary sources like tea or supplements.

Research has shown that L-theanine affects dopamine and serotonin levels in your brain [3]. They are crucial brain chemicals that play a role in your mood, sleep, emotions, and stress levels [4].

L-theanine may also boost the activity of alpha brain waves [5]. Alpha waves promote focus, creativity, and a stable mood [6].


Additionally, L-theanine may boost GABA, which is another neurotransmitter [3]. If your GABA levels are low, you might be more likely to experience anxiety [7].

Note: We recently published an insightful article looking into natural beta blockers that looks at how L-Theanine, GABA and other natural ingredients & practices can be used for dealing with performing anxiety and stage fright, especially important for those who perform for a living like musicians, actors & public speakers who need to control their nerves while still staying fluid and focused.

All of these factors might explain why L-theanine can be beneficial for anxiety. They might also explain why drinking tea helps you feel good after a stressful day.

Even Taylor Swift is a believer in L-theanine. In an interview with Elle Magazine, she revealed that she takes an L-theanine supplement to deal with stress and the occasional stage fright.

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Which types of teas are the best for anxiety?

There are many different kinds of teas with various health benefits. But here we will only discuss ones that contain L-theanine and have been shown to help with anxiety.

The primary tea variants that contain adequate amounts of L-theanine so that they reliably help with anxiety symptoms & relaxation are:

  1. Green Tea: Tazo Zen Green Tea
  2. Matcha Green Tea: Jade Leaf Organic Japanese Matcha Green Tea Powder
  3. Oolong Tea: VAHDAM High Mountain Darjeeling Oolong Tea
  4. Black Tea: Zest Tea Blue Lady Black Tea

Let’s dig deeper into these different varieties of teas and better understand their benefits for anxiety.

Green tea promotes brain health

Best Green Tea For Anxiety: Tazo Zen Green Tea
Green tea can promote heart health, cognitive function, lower cholesterol, and better skin. Tazo Zen Green Tea contains small amounts of caffeine as well as amino acids such as L-theanine, which can help reduce anxiety and keep you focused throughout the day

People have been drinking green tea for centuries in the East. But recently, it has been gaining in popularity in the West as well. People all around the world have begun to catch on to green tea’s therapeutic effects.

Green tea can promote heart health, cognitive function, lower cholesterol, and better skin, to name a few benefits. And although it contains caffeine, it’s not as much as coffee. A typical brewed cup of coffee of 8oz/237ml typically contains 95-165mg of caffeine, whereas the same size cup of green tea would contain 25-29mg of caffeine. This makes green tea a perfect drink for those looking for a cognitive boost without the jitters.

When it comes to anxiety, there is evidence to suggest that green tea can help, as well. A 2017 review of studies found several cognitive benefits. The studies showed that regular green tea consumption reduced anxiety. It also improved memory and attention [9].

Matcha green tea

Best Matcha Green Tea for Anxiety: Jade Leaf Organic Japanese Matcha Green Tea Powder
A delicious Japanese tea, matcha green tea contains more amino acids (like L-theanine, which helps with anxiety) then most teas due to how it’s grown & harvested. Jade Leaf Matcha Green tea powder is organic, 100% USDA certified, and sourced directly from organic farms in Uji, Japan

Originally from Japan, matcha green tea has also become widely popular as of late. It comes from the same plant as green tea, but it is grown differently.

Farmers leave the matcha plants covered for a few weeks to avoid direct sunlight. This unique technique gives a matcha a boost in its amino acid content.

After matcha is harvested, the stems and veins are removed, and the leaves are finely ground into matcha powder.

Matcha packs higher levels of L-theanine than regular green tea. But it also contains more caffeine than regular green tea. People typically consume matcha in smaller amounts for a quick boost in calming energy.

Despite the caffeine content, matcha green tea can reduce anxiety [10][11]. The higher levels of L-theanine most likely contribute to its calming effects.

Note that to use matcha green tea powder and make a delicious beverage from it, you will need a matcha whisk, scoop and some other parts. We recommend the BAMBOOWORX matcha tea making set.

Oolong tea for anxiety

Best Oolong Tea for Anxiety: VAHDAM High Mountain Darjeeling Oolong Tea
Oolong tea supports heart health & can help maintain stable blood sugar levels. VAHDAM Oolong Tea contains L-theanine to help with anxiety and induce a relaxed state, while still tasting delicious

Similar to green tea, oolong is another traditional Chinese tea. The difference is that oolong tea is oxidized longer than green tea, which gives it a different aroma and color.

Nonetheless, oolong tea packs similar health benefits to green tea. It supports heart health and may help you maintain stable blood sugar levels.

When it comes to anxiety, oolong tea may have benefits as well. There isn’t as much research behind oolong tea when compared to green tea. But we do know oolong contains L-theanine. So, we can assume it has a calming effect similar to green tea.

Black tea for anxiety

Best Black Tea for Anxiety: Zest Tea Blue Lady Black Tea
Black Tea can support heart health, lower bad cholesterol, and help maintain stable blood pressure. Zest Tea Blue Lady Tea is packed with amino acids, including L-Theanine, to assist with anxiety

Black tea comes from the same plant as green tea and oolong tea. But it is allowed to oxidize the longest and also has the most robust flavor.

Like the others, black tea has similar health benefits. It can support heart health and lower bad cholesterol. Black tea can also help you maintain stable blood pressure.

Black tea also packs a healthy dose of L-theanine. One study even found that it may have more L-theanine than green tea [12]. However, it is only one study, and the results should not be taken as conclusive evidence. You’ll get a decent amount of L-theanine from both black and green teas, assuming you drink it regularly.

Tea & Anxiety Frequently Asked Questions

uVitals recently received a (digital) sack full of questions about tea usage for anxiety. Rather then keep our responses solely in emails, we figured it’s a good idea to share the questions and their answers here so that we can refer anyone with questions to this section in future:

  • Q: What kind of tea is best for anxiety?
  • A: There are many different kinds of teas with various health benefits, but for anxiety purposes you want to consume tea with the highest amount of L-theanine. Research shows that L-theanine can affect dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain; both crucial chemicals that play a role in your mood, sleep, emotions, and stress levels. L-theanine can also boost the activity of alpha brain waves, promoting focus, creativity, and a stable mood.

    The primary tea variants that contain adequate amounts of L-theanine to reliably help with anxiety symptoms are:

    • Green Tea
    • Matcha Green Tea
    • Oolong Tea
    • Black Tea
  • Q: Is tea better than coffee for anxiety?
  • A: Coffee has a (significantly) greater amount of caffeine than tea does. Coffee typically contains between 95mg – 200mg of caffeine per cup depending on how it’s made. Tea, on the other hand, contains between 6mg – 60mg per full serving, depending on the type.

    Those who switch from coffee to tea may very well see improved sleep and less anxiety due to the reduction in caffeine consumption alone.

Final thoughts on tea and anxiety

Tea is an ancient beverage that has been consumed for centuries around the world, often for its therapeutic effects. More recently, we’ve come to learn about its potential benefits for those suffering from anxiety.

L-theanine, an amino acid, seems to play a significant role in tea’s relaxing effects. It can also boost cognitive performance, help you perform calmly in stressful situations and even help improve the sleep quality.

As far as which tea you should go with, it depends on your preference. Green tea has the most research behind it, but oolong and black tea come from the same plant. You should try the different varieties and pick the one you like best. You will get the most benefits from tea if you drink it consistently.

If you’re looking for something to replace coffee, matcha green tea might be the closest alternative.

So, the next time you’re at the store, pick up some green tea (or matcha), oolong tea, or black tea. Otherwise, you can also consider taking an L-theanine supplement like Taylor Swift.

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Products mentioned in this article

Reference List:

  1. ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28566632
  2. ^ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/07/190709110228.htm
  3. ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17182482
  4. ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7622823
  5. ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296328
  6. ^ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201504/alpha-brain-waves-boost-creativity-and-reduce-depression
  7. ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12662130
  8. ^ https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0924224499000448
  9. ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28899506
  10. ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213777/
  11. ^ https://neurosciencenews.com/matcha-tea-anxiety-14443/
  12. ^ https://www.researchgate.net/publication/251575381_How_much_theanine_in_a_cup_of_tea_Effects_of_tea_type_and_method_of_preparation

Agnit is the lead writer for uVitals. As an avid health and fitness enthusiast, he is passionate about writing content that helps people take control of their health to live happier, more productive lives. Someday, he plans to listen to his own advice and drink less coffee.

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