In simple terms, Dopamine is a hormone (and a neurotransmitter) that is produced in your brain. It’s known as the “reward” hormone associated with good experiences. When you find a wad of cash on the street, immediately you feel an excited sensation and your heart seems to flutter. This is dopamine being released! In love? Yep, dopamine! Other effects include motivation, voluntary movement, sleep, mood, attention, focus, memory retention and learning to name but a few things.
So what does this have to do with tea and health? Well, in order to produce dopamine, certain amino acids are required. These amino acids come to us in foods and drinks. But in order to produce dopamine, these amino acids need to cross what is called the “blood-brain barrier” or BBB. Think of this as a maze to get into your brain. It’s filled with tiny alleyways that block substances from getting through to the brain, like viruses for instance. Most substances can’t cross over this barrier but Theanine can.
According to doctors Hidehiko Yokogoshi and Takehiko Terashima (leaders in Theanine-based research) at the Laboratory of Nutritional Biochemistry in Shizuoka, when you drink green tea, dopamine levels are significantly increased in the brain.
It’s worth repeating that green tea is just about the only thing in nature that contains Theanine and lots of it! This means it can boost production of dopamine in the brain when you drink it. These two doctors went on to explain how Theanine also promotes Alpha wave functions in the brain and this is what causes you to have an alert yet relaxed physical and mental state. In other words, it is your personal stress management system!
It’s also a well-known anecdote in Japan that Theanine is one of the best hangover helpers out there. The benefits of Theanine are too extensive to list but suffice to say, it’s the daddy of all feel-good substances.
The Science of Flow
When I drink Japanese green tea, I find that my state is energized, not jittery, my mind is clear, and I’m really in my flow. New ideas seem to be coming from out of nowhere, connections are being made, my intuition is bionic and life seems to be sailing along with effortless ease. Some scientists refer to this as “the relaxed yet alert state” but they are missing something essential: creative JUICE! I call this the “Science of Flow” because green tea is the conduit to get you into a state of effortless flow where inspiration is bubbling up from inside of you. I wonder why no one seems to be talking about this major benefit! Surely I’m not the only one who experiences creative flow as I sip my favorite kabusecha. I urge you to consider drinking only green tea when embarking on a creative adventure and see how well you do. Then drop me a line to join the club!
Illustrations taken from “Green is the New Black – the Glorious rise of Japanese green tea” by Holly Helt