Natural green tea is a first-line defense against stress and anxiety for millions around the world. Originating thousands of years ago in China, green tea has recently become popular in the West owing to its many reported health benefits. It may be effective in helping to prevent numerous conditions, including Parkinson’s disease and certain cancers, among others.
In addition to its preventive benefits, green tea is also an effective anxiolytic (anti-anxiety agent). It contains L-Theanine, an amino acid which promotes relaxation by affecting levels of GABA, a brain neurotransmitter which governs stress reactions. Green tea also contains numerous other phytochemical (plant-based) compounds which may play a role in promoting relaxation and feelings of well-being.
The Caffeine Conundrum
Green tea contains caffeine, a nervous system stimulant which can cause anxiety in some people, creating a potential problem for those seeking stress relief. While the amount of caffeine in green tea is significantly lower than the levels found in beverages such as coffee, people who have anxiety and stress issues are often highly sensitive to caffeine intake and are advised to avoid or minimize it. Unfortunately, commercial decaffeination processes can destroy the L-Theanine and other natural calming compounds in green tea.
Happily, a simple process exists which can remove most of the caffeine from green tea at home quickly and easily, without destroying the L-Theanine and other natural anti-anxiety components. According to popular integrative health authority Dr. Andrew Weil, this process can remove up to 80% of the caffeine from a cup of ordinary green tea.
Decaffeinate and De-Stress
To brew a cup of relaxing anti-anxiety green tea with very little caffeine, Dr. Weil recommends the following process:
- Place the tea bag(s) in a cup of very hot water, as you normally would.
- Allow the tea bags to soak for approximately 45 seconds. During this time, most of the caffeine will be released into the water.
- Dump the water and refill with fresh hot water.
- Steep the tea as normal. Little of the caffeine will remain, but the flavor and the natural anti-anxiety compounds will still be present.
By using this simple process each time you make green tea, you can enjoy its natural health and anti-anxiety benefits without the stimulating effects of caffeine. However, if you are extremely sensitive to caffeine, you may want to use caution, as a small amount does remain. A cup of normally-brewed green tea is equal in caffeine content to about four or five cups prepared with this process.