Green Tea & Caffeine Benefits and Brain Health

I bet you’ve heard green tea is good for you, but maybe you have questions about its caffeine. I recently chatted with a reporter all about green tea and its caffeine in this article for Real Simple. It covers types of tea, why green tea has caffeine, how the amount can vary, what about decaf green tea, daily caffeine recommendations, how green tea compares to other beverage and finally, the health benefits of green tea, including for brain health. For myself, I drink a cup of tea in the morning, whether it’s to gently fire me up for a work day or before a morning workout. Sometimes it’s green tea, sometimes it’s black tea.

I always have more to say than what makes it into the final article. Keep reading for bonus content from me about this topic.


Q: Why does green tea contain caffeine? 

A: Green tea naturally contains caffeine. Caffeine is one of three methylxanthines in tea, which are compounds naturally found in coffee, tea, and chocolate. 

Q: How does its caffeine content compare to the daily maximum?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends consuming no more than 400 mg caffeine per day. A cup of tea runs at a moderate 10% of the daily upper limit for caffeine set by the FDA. That is, a cup of tea contains about 40 mg of caffeine. Compare that to coffee, which is at least double, at 80-100 mg per cup. 

Q: Are certain types of green tea higher in caffeine than other types? 

A: Yes, matcha green tea is higher in caffeine than other green tea. Matcha contains about 70 mg caffeine compared to regular green tea’s 40 mg. Matcha is a special type of green tea whose leaves have their stems and veins removed before being ground into a fine powder. Because drinking matcha means consuming the whole leaf powder, it is higher in caffeine than simply drinking an infusion of green tea leaves.

Q: Why is it important to be aware of the caffeine in green tea? 

A: It’s important to be aware of all food and drink sources of caffeine, including the caffeine in green tea, because caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant that affects people differently. Certain populations should limit caffeine such as children and individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Caffeine sensitivity varies, and some people are more sensitive than others. Consuming more caffeine than your personal tolerance level can affect sleep quality and increase anxiety.

Q: Is green tea a better source of caffeine than other caffeinated beverages? 

Green tea is a more gentle source of caffeine compared to coffee, soda, and energy drinks. Green tea offers a lower, more moderate dose of caffeine per cup, which may be better tolerated by people who are more caffeine-sensitive. Plus there are no added sugars, which makes it a healthier choice than sugar-sweetened caffeinated drinks.

Q: Are there any benefits of the caffeine in green tea? 

A: Green tea offers a package of caffeine along with the calming amino acid L-theanine. Research shows the combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves mental focus. Also, caffeine, including the caffeine in green tea, is a known ergogenic aid that improves athletic performance. 

Q: What about its health benefits in general?

The polyphenols in green tea combat brain aging and build up cognitive resilience so the brain is better able to cope with stress. This is especially important because by 2030, one in six people will be aged 60 or over. This is one of the most significant demographic shifts of the century. It’s important to build up cognitive reserves in our 20s, 30s and 40s. Research suggests green tea also helps reduce anxiety and improves memory and attention. The food matrix green tea offers is more impactful than its isolated components, which means you’re better off sipping a cup of tea than taking a supplement in this case. 


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