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The Calming Substance in Tea

You drink a cup of coffee and have a hyper reaction within 20 minutes. You drink a cup of tea and all is well. Why?

Tea contains virtually the same amount of caffeine but it also contains an amino acid known as theanine, a type of relaxant.

Theanine has been studied overseas since 1964 but it the effects are only starting to be appreciated in the USA now. Let’s take a look at some areas: Theanine readily crosses the blood-brain barrier of humans and exerts subtle changes in biochemistry. An increase in alpha waves has been documented. The effects are similar to taking a relaxing, hot bath. Unlike tranquilizers, it does not interfere with one’s ability to think or process information. In fact, theanine increases concentration and focuses thought patterns. (This is actually the concept behind the ancient Japanese tradition of Tea Ceremonies.) Theanine is also a caffeine antagonist; simply stated, it reacts in the opposite fashion. It also creates a sense of well-being by increasing dopamine levels, another brain chemical associated with mood enhancement.


One  unique features is theanine’s ability to protect neurons. Specifically, theanine protects against glutamate, an essential brain chemical that is toxic in high amounts. Although essentialto brain functioning, an excess of glutamate kills brain cells. (The most common reason for this is poor blood supply to the brain. Glutamate surges – calcium increases – free radical damage occurs.) Finally, theanine has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and improve symptoms of PSM.

Next trip to Starbucks, pass on the mocha and ask for the Green Tea!

Dr. David Orman is the creator of the increasingly popular “Dr. Orman’s Wellness School.” Come learn about wellness and natural medicine at

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