Tea: The Natural Mood Booster

mood boosting tea
Diana L

Tea: The Natural Mood Booster

Life has its ups and downs. What if you learned you could go through that life in a better mood more often, and naturally? Some research says you can!

Studies show that the ingredients in a cup of tea can:

  • Improve focus
  • Lift a mood
  • Reduce stress
  • Stave off depression and anxiety, and possibly even dementia.

Tea lovers around the world understand the relaxing nature of a cup of tea. Some drink it to stay hydrated or boost energy in the morning. But they also drink it to soothe the midday nerves or unwind at night.

Even though tea drinkers believe in the benefits of tea, scientists are now on board as well. They continue to dig deeper into how exactly tea can be a natural mood booster.

Science has shown that tea actually reduces cortisol, a known stress hormone. Drinking just half a cup of green tea per day appears to lower the risk of depression or developing dementia.

What Ingredients in Tea Boost Your Mood?

Tea has antioxidants like EGCG that can help people feel calmer and more focused. Research has shown that combining caffeine with L-theanine, an amino acid, improves memory and reaction time.

This may sound a little odd because we often relate caffeine to coffee. If consumed too much, coffee may lead to anxiety, restlessness, jitters, irregular heartbeat, and trouble sleeping. 

Andrew Scholey of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne Australia calls tea a bit paradoxical. "Tea is calming, but alerting at the same time".

Clinical depression is a real thing. Do not confuse it with the occasional mood drop that many casually refer to as depression. But there is clear evidence that tea can make moderate mood improvements in the average person.

Best Teas for Mood Boost

  • Chamomile is a popular bedtime tea. Chamomile flowers contain apigenin – an antioxidant that causes brain receptors to induce relaxation and improve sleep.

    Chamomile tea may also help increase serotonin production that controls moods. Daily consumption may help with anxiety and depression and help boost the body against the effects of stress. Chamomile has a flavor that is similar to crisp green apples.
  • Ginseng can help protect against stress and anxiety and reduce symptoms of depression, like fatigue.

  • Green tea has many health benefits, like preventing heart disease and boosting immunity. It also has l-theanine, an amino acid that slows down caffeine absorption. L-theanine also may have a natural anti-anxiety effect.

  • Passionflower Tea is made from the passionflower petals. Research has found that passionflower tea may help improve sleep quality. As an herbal tea, it may also help boost GABA levels that promote relaxation and provide a restful night's sleep.

  • The invigorating aroma of Peppermint tea is delightfully refreshing. Studies have shown the peppermint scent alone may help induce relaxation while also possibly reduce depression, anxiety, and stress. Peppermint tea also contains anti-inflammatory properties that aid in reducing pain and inflammation.

Mood boosting tea: Is the benefit in the brew or the experience?

Tea is one of the most consumed beverages in the world. Yet surprisingly little is known about its effects on human behavior. However, the evidence available generally shows that tea has a positive effect on mood and cognitive function.

A study published in Korea reported that those who regularly consumed green tea were 21% less apt to develop depression over their lifetime when compared to non-drinkers. And in a Singapore study of people over 55, those who drank just one cup of tea per week proved better at memory and tasks requiring information processing than did non-tea-drinkers. These results are similar to those obtained in a person who exercises 2.5 hours per week.

But researchers are also looking at the possibility that the experience of brewing and drinking tea is adding to the effect, not just the tea alone. Unlike the drive-thru at Starbucks, drinking tea is often associated with setting aside time to enjoy the experience.

Since tea is typically consumed at a time when looking for relaxation, the combination of the tea plus the experience may be responsible for the benefits.

But that aside, it's difficult to ignore science. In a test of healthy men, some were given black tea and some a caffeinated placebo. Those that consumed the black tea recovered from stressful tasks more quickly than the placebo group. After 50 minutes, the black tea drinkers reported they felt relaxed, and their cortisol levels had fallen to 53% of baseline, compared to 73% in the placebo group.

But science never stops. Research continues on tea as it relates to mental health benefits. While it is known that it benefits mood and cognition, they don't quite yet know the "why". Does the caffeine boost the effects of L-theanine or the other way around?

Until these questions of long-term benefits are answered, the medical use of tea will have to wait. But there's no reason we can't sip a cup of tea, improve mood and focus, and feel good.

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