Caffeine in Green Tea
The effects of caffeine in green tea are entirely different from those of the caffeine in coffee or energy drinks. While each person's tolerance for caffeine varies depending on their constitution, the caffeine in coffee is delivered to your body in such concentrated amounts that it generally causes your body to react as if it is undergoing extreme stress by releasing high amounts of cortisol (the “fight or flight” stress hormone). Normally your body releases cortisol along with adrenaline as a response to stress, and naturally drops the levels back to normal when the response is no longer necessary. However, when your body is constantly overexposed to cortisol and other stress hormones, you become more susceptible to developing any number of symptoms and conditions such as headaches, weight gain, anxiety, depression, heart disease, and many more. Also, as a result of the caffeine crash, you are likely to reach for quick energy boosts through more coffee or sugar, continuing the cycle and adding further damage. The caffeine molecules in green tea, on the other hand, are attached to catechin molecules which are larger and therefore cause the caffeine to take longer to break down; in other words, the catechin causes the caffeine to be released in your body more slowly over time. This gradual release allows you to stay alert for a sustained period of time without ever experiencing the sudden crash or anxiety caused by regular caffeine, while a compound called L-theanine simultaneously keeps you calm and free of anxiety by inducing alpha-waves which are normally achieved through deep meditation. It provides better calm and focus in moments of stress, thus preventing and further reducing stress-related damage to cells. Studies showed that consuming caffeine with L-theanine resulted in fewer mistakes when carrying out complex tasks than after consuming caffeine alone. L-theanine has also been shown to have beneficial effects on mental state and sleep quality, and therapeutic effects in psychiatric and depressive disorders.
The Bottom Line
While all the extraordinary compounds in green tea can often be taken separately in supplement form, there is a critical synergy that takes place in their naturally occurring state within green tea as a whole food. However, not all green teas are the same. It is important to check the source and quality of the green tea you choose. Because green tea is highly absorbent of its surrounding elements, purity and a complete absence of pesticides and chemicals are critical. It is also important to consume enough green tea on a daily basis in order to properly reap its benefits. Various studies have shown that somewhere between three and ten cups of green tea should be consumed per day in order to experience its effects. See our suggestions on how to make increased daily intake of green tea approachable and easier than you may have thought.