Coffee and energy drinks aren't the only way for a burst of energy. Tea has the same effect and plus...it's good for you too!

First Off…The Basics of Caffeine

To understand how energy works in the body, you first need to understand what goes on in your brain when you introduce caffeine to it. Our brains are controlled by chemical messengers called neurotransmitters and they’re responsible for sending messages to your body and other parts of the brain. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that acts as a depressant, quieting the brain.

When you drink caffeine, it attaches to Adenosine and blocks the neurotransmitter from giving quieting messages. This all results in higher brain stimulation, where you feel the caffeine kicking in.

Effects of Caffeine in the Body

Caffeine works wonders to wake us up and give us a jump start for the day. It’s amazing what a single cup can do sometimes.

But as many of us have experienced, having too much caffeine results in jitters and anxiety. It can also result in headaches and high blood pressure. According to the FDA, it is okay to consume up to 400 mg of caffeine a day (which is about 6-8 cups of tea, or 4 cups of coffee). The problem with drinking purely high caffeinated beverages like energy drinks or coffee is that you hit a crash at some point after the caffeine wears off.

And we are no strangers to that 2pm lethargic feeling of having no energy.

The good news is that tea is a perfect alternative to unhealthy, sugary drinks and even a better alternative to coffee!

Tea Contents for Energy

True teas that come from the Camellia Sinensis plant (like black, green, white, pu-erh, and oolong) all contain caffeine naturally while Herbal teas like chamomile, peppermint, or rosehip do not contain any caffeine.

Going back to neurotransmitters, we need that caffeine to bind with the quieting messengers so we don’t feel tired and sleepy throughout the day. This is why caffeinated teas are a better choice when choosing a tea for energy.

Caffeinated teas also come with an amino acid called L-Theanine. (This is a great thing!) L-Theanine is responsible for delivering a calming and relaxing effect in the body. It increases levels of Serotonin and Dopamine which regulates concentration, alertness, energy, and promotes relaxation. L-Theanine also reduces levels of stress and anxiety in the brain.

L-Theanine works by helping the body slow down the intake of caffeine so that we feel a longer-lasting and gradual uptick of energy. It also helps in tapering off the caffeine slowly so we don’t feel the “crash” usually associated with pure caffeine.

Teas That Give You Energy

Yerba Mate

This tea comes from the plant, Ilex Paraguariensis, native to South America and is the only herbal tea to actually contain caffeine. Yerba Mate contains approximately 85 mg of caffeine per cup (whereas coffee has about 95mg). The higher caffeine levels are linked to higher concentration, however, Yerba Mate doesn’t contain L-Theanine like other teas. You will get a great long-lasting energy kick out of this tea, just be sure to drink it in moderation.


Matcha is a green tea that has been ground into a fine powder and extremely popular for its health benefits. The shade-grown tea is packed full of antioxidants as well as L-Theanine, and of course, caffeine. Matcha contains approximately 70 mg of caffeine per cup so it’s sure to give you the energy you are looking for. The L-Theanine allows your body to gradually process the caffeine as it enters and as it leaves your body, so you’re not left with a “crash” or unpleasant side effects like the jitters.

Black Tea

Black tea is well known for its energizing effects as well as providing a base for bold blends like Irish or English Breakfast, Chai, and Earl Grey. Black tea has about 47 mg of caffeine (about half the amount of coffee) and also contains L-Theanine to help balance off the caffeine peak and crash. Drinking black tea may also help the transition from coffee to tea, a healthier alternative.

Oolong Tea

Oolong Tea falls between green and black tea and the amount of caffeine in each cup depends on the processing the leaves went through. Leaves that are less oxidized have less caffeine than those who were highly oxidized. (Oxidation is a chemical reaction in the leaf once exposed to oxygen). Oolongs can range from 30-60 mg of caffeine per cup, so when looking for this tea for energy, make sure to pay special attention to the caffeine content.

Green Tea

Green tea contains about 30 mg of caffeine per cup, which doesn’t seem like much at first, but this means you may drink multiple cups throughout the day with a moderate amount of caffeine. As with other true teas, green tea also contains L-Theanine which helps slow down caffeine absorption for a longer-lasting energy boost without the undesirable side effects.

For those days where you need a huge energy boost, you can’t go wrong with Yerba Mate or Matcha tea!

Something to Consider

There are other factors that play a part into how much caffeine actually ends up in your cuppa tea.

Longer steeping time, higher water temperature, or using more leaves usually result in higher amounts of caffeine transmitted. Follow brewing instructions and use only fresh water for your tea.

It is also important to remember that tea has many proven health benefits, but it should be drunk in moderation.