Green Tea in the Morning

teapot-1138913__180 While it doesn’t exclaim “Wake Up!, a cup of green tea first thing in the morning has helped me to find clarity and purpose.  I love its soothing quality and that it virtually paves the way to my yoga practice.

I am not shunning coffee.  I adore the taste and the luxury of the drink. However, first thing in the morning, it’s nature can be aggressive and irritating for me. I’ve realized that drinking coffee tends to sway me away from what is nurturing.

I looked for proof of this and discovered that there is a natural chemical called theanine found in green tea that provides its calming effect. Life Extension Magazine reports that “It leaves people in a better mood. Knowing that L-theanine can cross the blood-brain barrier and positively affect brain chemistry, scientists investigated its mood-modulating effects. The results of those studies have led to L-theanine being patented as a mood enhancer. How it works is not completely understood, but one thing researchers have discovered is that L-theanine changes levels of amino acids affecting serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain.”

Unfortunately, there is a bit of a catch 22 for the other qualities of green tea. In order to clarify, I’ve created these terms:

Keep the Catechins

The largest of green tea’s benefits is that it contains catechins. Catechins are antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage. The quality of the tea, whether it is powder (best), leaves (better) or bagged and the temperature of the water (hot to boiling) all determine a tea’s catechin content. It is also advantageous to add lemon. Vitamin C makes the catechins easier to absorb. Dairy, on the other hand, competes with it’s absorption.

Tame the Tannins

Green tea also contains tannins which can decrease the absorption of iron and folic acid. To counteract this effect, be sure to drink green tea in between (not with) your meals. Although it does not work well with catechins, you could add milk. The calcium tends to bind to the tannins in the tea before they can bind to your iron. Or, once again, squeeze some lemon into your cup (because vitamin C increases iron absorption).

Keep in mind that green tea may not be beneficial to all.  If you are taking medication and/or pregnant, please consult with your doctor.