Every evening when I come home from my day job I sit down tobegin working on my side projects. Sometimes these projects are my ownventures, while other times I am working on fun and interesting freelance workfor my clients. While I ultimately find these opportunities to be especiallyinteresting to me, I often feel burnt out and tired after work. Consuming morecoffee or a drink with caffeine is not an option, however, or else my qualityof sleep that night will be significantly reduced. Instead of sacrificingquality sleep or powering through a project with reduced energy, I’ve learnedto reach for both herbal and non-herbal teas that provide sustained energy withfar lower (or inexistent) levels of caffeine.
Why Choose Teas for Energy?
While I enjoy both tea and coffee (depending on the time ofday), there are plenty of tea drinkers who choose this option because theycan’t stand the taste of coffee. Others are looking for an energy boost from afully herbal option that’s free of caffeine altogether. No matter your reason,there are plenty of incredibly healing and nutritious teas to choose from thatcan offer the mind a source of focus, concentration, and energy.
Should I Choose a Green, Black, White, or Herbal Tea forEnergy?
When choosing the right tea for you, it’s important toconsider your desired outcome and how caffeine tends to affect you. If you havean extreme caffeine sensitivity to the point where consuming anything with theslightest amount of caffeine after 5pm will keep you up all night, perhaps anherbal tea for energy is right for you. Perhaps you’d prefer something with lowlevels of caffeine that also includes herbal substances that provide healingbenefits. Or maybe you want a tea with higher levels of caffeine comparable tothat of coffee, but something with a pleasant, aromatic taste.
Many people don’t know that caffeine is not the onlynaturally-occurring substance in teas that can provide the human brain withsustained levels of energy and alertness. In fact, many herbs offer similarbenefits while also supplying the body with powerful antioxidants that can wardoff disease.
So, no matter
Caffeinated Teas for Energy
First we will begin with caffeinated teas, ordered from mostcaffeinated to least.
Guayusa tea is firston our list – a naturally-caffeinated herb that comes from the holly tree,native to parts of the Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador. This tea has a richhistory steeped in the Amazonian culture for over 2,000 years, and is renownedfor being rich in antioxidants and nutrients. As for caffeine level, Guayusacontains approximately 100 milligrams per standard 8-ounce cup (1).This is about the same compared to a standard cup of coffee.
However, Guayusa’s effects on the body differ from coffeesuch that it is less likely to produce the caffeine jitters that coffeesometimes causes. This is in part due to the harmonious balance of caffeine,antioxidants, vitamins, and amino acids that Guayusa contains. One amino acidknown as L-Theanine is found in high levels in Guayusa, known for relaxing themind and body without causing tiredness or fatigue. As for taste, Guayusa isboth smooth and earthy with a slightly sweet finish. Some describe is as havinga complex fruity flavor as well.
Guayusa is probably best suited for those who aren’t assensitive to caffeine, or for consumption in the morning for those who find ithard to fall asleep when taking caffeine late in the day. Given its highlybeneficial balance of nutrients and antioxidants, Guayusa is perfect for anyoneseeking a balanced and sustainable source of energy.
Try it here: RUNAOrganic Guayusa Loose Leaf Tea
In recent years Yerba Mate has exploded onto the mainstreammarket due to its impressive levels of antioxidants and balance amount ofcaffeine. It has slightly less than both Guayusa and coffee, clocking in at 85milligrams for a standard 8-ounce cup (2).However, when it comes to antioxidants, Yerba Mate actually contains slightlymore than your average green tea, which can help clear the bloodstream of free radicalsand reduce the risk of cancer (3). In additionto antioxidants, Yerba Mate contains a number of beneficial plant nutrientssuch as (4):
- Saponins: lowers cholesterol and reducesinflammation
- Polyphenols: large group of antioxidants that’slinked to reducing the risk for a number of diseases
- Xanthines: stimulant compounds such as caffeineand theobromine
- Caffeoyl Derivatives: health-promotingantioxidants
While Yerba Mate contains less caffeine than a cup ofcoffee, it is still more caffeinated compared to black tea, and thereforeshould be taken by people with caffeine sensitivities in the mornings to reducethe risk of sleeplessness.
Try it here: CertifiedOrganic Yerba Mate
Black tea is a classic in many American households, but isfar more popular overseas in England and other parts of the UK. While it can beenjoyed in its purest form as regular black tea, it is often blended with otherplants or herbs to produce variant flavors, such as Earl Grey or Chai. Similarto Yerba Mate and Guayusa, black tea also contains high levels of antioxidantswhich can promote overall health and reduce cell damage from free radicals (5).Black tea is not only enjoyed for its benefits on energy and alertness, but hasalso been researched to produce an 11% reduction in the risk of developingheart disease (6).
Compared to Yerba Mate or Guayusa, black tea hassignificantly less caffeine at about 45 milligrams per 8-ounce cup (7).That being said, people with caffeine sensitivity should still be advised toreduce black tea intake after about 6 or 7 pm. For me, I prefer to have blacktea later in my day at about 3 pm to reduce the lethargy I generally feel aftereating lunch.
Try it here: PremiumBlack Loose Leaf Darjeeling Tea
Ahh, green tea. This classic drink is extremely popular allover the world, especially as a drink consumed alongside many Asian cuisines.It is loaded with antioxidants, nutrients, and amino acids that prove to beextremely healthy for humans, especially in protecting cells against damage andinflammation. For example, green tea contains polyphenols – a powerfulantioxidant that plays a role in reducing the signs of aging and inflammation (8).This tea also contains levels of Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which isknown to lower bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure (9).Also, due to its ability to boost metabolism, it has also been studied toreduce fat in humans (10).
As for increasing alertness, although green tea doesn’tcontain as much caffeine as coffee, the synergistic effects of the L-Theanine,antioxidants, and balanced levels of caffeine it contains supports a moresustained feeling of energy. As for caffeine amount, green tea contains about25 milligrams for every 8-ounce cup – 20 milligrams less than black tea (11).This makes green tea safer to consume later on in the day for those withcaffeine sensitivities, or as an excellent morning beverage.
Try it here: TazoZen Green Tea
So what makes white tea different than green or black tea?After all, all three teas are derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Well,white tea is picked before the leaves and buds of the plant are fully open – infact, at this stage the buds should be covered in tiny white hairs, which ishow white tea gets its name.
Compared to black and green tea, white tea is the leastprocessed of the three. It therefore contains a large amount of antioxidantsnaturally found in the plant, which has shown benefits in reducing the risk ofheart disease, skin aging, and even weight loss. In fact, studies have foundwhite tea powder to be extremely effective at reducing inflammation caused byfree radicals in skin cells (12). It alsocontains similar levels of L-Theanine and other beneficial amino acids comparedto green tea, also providing the body with a myriad of health benefits.
As for caffeine content, white tea contains slightly lessthan green tea at about 15 milligrams for every 8-ounce cup (13).This gentle amount is ideal for people looking for low doses of stimulationwith the added benefit of relaxed focus that comes with the levels ofL-Theanine found in white tea.
Try it here: SilverNeedle Tips White Tea
Herbal Teas for Energy
Next we will review the herbal teas used for energy. Believeit or not, there are more factors at play than just caffeine alone, especiallywhen it comes to focus, concentration, and motivation.
With a plethora of immune-boosting health benefits andanti-aging properties, it’s no wonder that Astragalus has been used intraditional Chinese medicine for centuries. While it is often extracted intopowder supplements and liquid extracts, it is arguably most commonly consumedas a tea. Like green tea and Guayusa, Astragalus contains many active compoundssuch as antioxidants that are known for strengthening the immune system andreducing inflammation (14).
As for providing the body with sustainable energy, researchhas found that Astragalus significantly reduces fatigue and can altogetherincrease longevity and performance in the long-term (15).
Try it here: OrganicAstragalus Root Tea
Singing Nettle Tea
Nettle tea is yet another staple in herbal medicine, datingback to ancient Egypt where it was used to treat arthritis and lower back pain(16).It contains many essential nutrients that provide a number of benefits to thehuman body and brain. These include:
- Vitamins: A, C, K, and several B vitamins
- Fats: healthy fats such as linoleic acid andstearic acid
- Minerals: sodium, potassium, calcium, iron,magnesium, and phosphorus
- Amino acids: nettle actually contains all of theessential amino acids
In addition to these nutrients, nettle also containspolyphenols and pigments. These substances come together to provide substantialantioxidant benefits within the body, acting as a layer of protection againstother substances that cause cell damage.
Many herbalists recommend drinking nettle tea as your start to the morning, given the kick of minerals, nutrients, and vitamins it provides to the body so early in the day. These substances can help balance metabolic functions and our ability to absorb nutrients by aiding in digestion, which can help provide the body with sustained energy throughout the day. If you just don’t have the time to make tea especially on a busy day, you can take some supplements instead, like the one here.
Try it here: OrganicNettle Leaf Tea
Ashwagandha Powder Tea
Although Ashwagandha is not your typical steep-and-pour tea,the health benefits of this herb are so powerful and profound that we thoughtit would be a disservice to withhold it from this list. This herb is a staplein ayurvedic medicine – an ancient system of holistic Indian medicine thatincorporates many herbal supplements into the practice. Due to its significantanti-inflammatory properties, it is classified as an adaptogen,or an all-natural substance that helps protect the body from stress.
As for improving energy levels, Ashwagandha’s use forconcentration and focus dates back to over 3,000 years (17).Alongside the benefits Ashwagandha provides for reducing stress andinflammation, it has also been researched to significantly improve reactiontime and cognitive task performance (18).Additionally, other research has displayed Ashwagandha’s benefits on overallmemory recall and attention (19).
Since Ashwagandha is consumed as a dried root, it is most oftenmixed into hot water in its powdered form and taken as a tea.
Try it here: BayanBotanicals Organic Ashwagandha Powder
Ginseng has been used for centuries in traditional Chinesemedicine, and contains a high concentration of active compounds that is knownfor both relaxing and invigorating the body. Similar to many of the others teaslisted here, Ginseng is heavy in the antioxidant department, and is widely usedas an anti-inflammatory agent (20).Additionally, Ginseng is also commonly enjoyed for its wide array of cognitivebenefits, especially with regard to behavior, mood, and memory (21).
As for increasing energy levels, Ginseng contains certain compoundssuch as polysaccharides and oligopeptides which are known for producing higherenergy functioning within bodily cells (22). In effect,this results in less fatigue and tiredness, while offering more sustainedenergy throughout the day.
Try it here: Davidson’sGreen Tea with Ginseng
When it comes to herbal tea, peppermint is probably the mostcommon household standard across the board. While it is often blended intoharmonious triaged teas, it is wonderful in its pure form as well, drunk notonly for its flavor but also for its significant health benefits. For example,research has shown that peppermint is an extremely potent agent for thosesuffering from the onset of a headache (23).Additionally, peppermint tea has also been found to be effective in reducingmenstral cramps for women (24).
As for sustained energy, other research has shown that regularpeppermint supplementation produced less fatigue for individuals performingcognitive tasks (25). But thosebenefits don’t stop there – even the aroma of peppermint is known to reducefatigue and sleepiness. One study found that peppermint oil aromatherapysignificantly reduced daytime sleepiness in particimants (26).
Try it here: PeppermintHerbal Tea