You wake up, drag yourself out of bed, and head for the kitchen. What do you choose: tea or coffee?
In those first moments of the morning, you make a choice that can impact your energy and productivity for the rest of the day. They say the first meal of the day is the most important, and that applies to what you drink as well.
We firmly believe that tea is the best drink (sorry, coffee lovers) and in this article we’ll take you through exactly why tea is so beneficial, and which type of tea is best for a morning energy boost.
First things first, tea naturally contains caffeine which provides an energy boost to get you up and moving in the morning. It's versatile too - a chilled iced tea on a hot day, or a hot mug of tea on a cold day. From green tea to black tea, to tea blends with endless flavor combinations, it's much easier to find a cup of tea to suit your tastes as well. In comparison, coffee has one distinct flavor. If you don't like that, there's not much you can do about it.
Starting your day with tea rehydrates you and even provides some nutrition (although it's not a replacement for a healthy breakfast, it's an addition). Despite what many people believe, tea and even coffee won't dehydrate you. Caffeine is a mild diuretic but studies have shown that it doesn't increase risk of dehydration.1 So, a tasty cup of energizing tea with a healthy breakfast is the best way to start your day.
Excluding Zest’s high caffeine tea, a cup of coffee contains more caffeine than a cup of regular tea. There's no doubting that coffee will give you that quick buzz you need to find the energy for whatever the day throws at you, however, there are some downsides to this quick pick-me-up.
A cup of coffee notably increases your blood pressure and levels of cortisol and epinephrine. As a result, your everyday reaction to stress is heightened and this could even contribute to an increased risk of heart disease.2
The study that discovered this also noted that this heightened stress response went undiminished until bedtime. So, the drink you select first thing in the morning will undoubtedly impact your productivity for the entire day.
That's why we think the best drink for morning energy is tea. Tea blends made with the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant provide a lower dose of caffeine to boost energy gently in the morning, but without the added stress. This is thanks to some unique components that tea contains.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that's only found naturally in tea leaves. It's easily one of the biggest reasons why tea is the best morning drink.
The caffeine in tea provides energy and alertness, but it's the L-Theanine that brings calmness and focus to the table. In fact, it can even reduce stress levels. This natural amino acid has anti-stress effects and could be used to reduce anxiety too. So, unlike coffee, tea provides the energy boost you need without the stress side effects.3 As a result, the best tea for energy in the morning is one that's high in caffeine for energy, and high in L-Theanine for calmness and focus.
At the other end of the spectrum, herbal teas like peppermint tea or chamomile tea don't contain caffeine or L-Theanine. A few select herbal tea blends like ginger can increase energy in other ways, however. More on different types of teas below.
In case we haven't already convinced you that tea is the best alternative to coffee, there are other health benefits you should know about. Tea has many benefits for your immune system besides managing your stress levels and providing an energy boost. We went into detail in our Best Tea for Energy article, but here's a recap:
Reduce blood pressure
Prevent heart disease
Lower cancer risks
With the exception of high-energy teas, like those we blend at Zest Tea with added caffeine, true teas from the Camellia sinensis plant have a caffeine content ranging from 1-2mg (decaffeinated teas) to 70mg (matcha green tea) per 8oz cup. Other types of tea fall in-between, with white tea averaging 40mg of caffeine and oolong tea averaging around 37mg of caffeine. All of these teas will boost energy to various degrees, but the most popular energy boosting teas for the morning are green and black.
Both green tea leaves and black tea leaves are from the tea plant, but each has a different amount of caffeine. Green tea contains roughly 38mg of caffeine, while black tea has 47mg.
If you usually drink coffee and are looking for an alternative, black tea blends are a good option. They have a rich, full flavor that goes well with milk like your usual latte, and they tend to be less acidic than green tea, so it's kinder on your stomach first thing in the morning.
Matcha tea offers a much higher caffeine content as you actually consume the tea leaf in powder form, rather than infusing the leaves. Expect around 70mg per cup.
Chai is traditionally made using black tea leaves with hot water or milk and spices. It will have just as much caffeine as a standard black tea, but with additional delicious flavors. Our high-caffeine Spicy Masala Chai blend contains cardamom, ginger and cinnamon, for example.
Yerba mate is a highly caffeinated drink originating in South America, although it's not made from the Camellia sinensis plant like true teas. Yerba mate can boost energy with up to 85mg of caffeine, but has an acquired taste.
By caffeine-free, we're referring to herbal tea. A soothing cup of chamomile tea is usually consumed in the evening, for example, but there are a few herbal teas that could boost your energy at the start of your day.
Ginger tea may help you regulate blood sugar levels for more balanced energy throughout the day.4 Besides its anti-inflammatory effects, ginger tea is also great for soothing your stomach. If you experience morning sickness with your pregnancy, ginger tea is a great remedy.
Peppermint tea has a similar effect, relaxing your stomach and gastrointestinal tissue.5 But peppermint tea also has a unique benefit. The bright, minty flavor and menthol in peppermint tea can pep you up and help you feel refreshed and ready for the day, similar to brushing your teeth.
As for measurable energy, caffeine-free tea doesn't provide the huge energy boost you're looking for in the mornings.
With more caffeine than yerba mate and even coffee, energy drinks provide a lot of energy with over 100mg of caffeine. Unfortunately, they also provide a hefty caffeine crash as they don't contain the L-Theanine needed to smooth out your energy levels. Many also provide a lot of sugar, which doesn't make for the healthiest breakfast.
The ideal time to drink your first tea of the morning is with your breakfast. Drinking highly caffeinated beverages on an empty stomach isn’t always the best idea. The acidity of the tea can throw your stomach off-balance and could cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
Line your stomach with a little food while you're drinking your morning tea, for extra energy. Don’t worry if you haven’t got time to cook something up, even a handful of healthy trail mix will do.
Caffeine takes up to 45 minutes to reach its peak, when 99% of the caffeine has been absorbed, although you might notice your energy levels climbing much sooner. It depends on your sensitivity to caffeine and what you ate for breakfast.
With tea, your energy levels are smooth and sustained as the caffeine wears off, due to the way L-Theanine works with caffeine. With coffee, you drop off quite suddenly in a ‘caffeine crash’. Typically, caffeine wears off 5 hours after drinking your tea, although the half-life can range from 1.5 hours to 9.5 hours.6
The best teas for energy are healthy, with low to no sugar and plenty of L-Theanine to regulate the effects of caffeine and keep you focused. There are risks to drinking too much caffeine, however. The FDA recommends no more than 400mg of caffeine per day for a healthy adult - that's the equivalent of 5 cups of coffee, or just over 2.5 cups of Zest Tea (at 150mg per cup).7
You'd need to drink a lot of high caffeine tea to experience any risks.
When it comes to your first tea of the day, you have a choice: loose leaf tea or tea bags. Both loose leaf tea and tea bags contain the same level of caffeine, so you won’t miss out either way
Drinking tea made from tea bags is a good option for mornings. Just pour over hot water and go. Nothing beats the convenience.
And loose leaf has benefits too: it costs less per serving and you can adjust how much tea leaf you brew for days that need a stronger boost. You’ll feel like a pro, brewing with loose leaf.
If you want to give loose leaf tea a try, whether it's an herbal peppermint tea or energizing green tea, using an infuser is the best way to go. No need to bring out the teapot.
We have an infuser mug perfect for mornings. All you have to do is add a teaspoon of loose leaf to the infuser, pour over your hot water, and go. The lid makes it ideal for taking your tea to-go. No more spilt tea in the car.
Creating the best teas for energy is just another day in the office for us at Zest Tea! We have a great range of teas, from a sweet spiced chai to a fruity green tea. We use natural tea extract to increase the caffeine and provide calm alertness for a productive day.
Check out our highest caffeine blends for a healthy way to increase your energy levels and boost your day when you roll out of bed.