Stimulant Drugs in Tea That Affects Your Brain

For those who are sensitive to coffee, tea may be the best choice. It may also be a better option for those who want to reap the benefits of a unique amino acid L-theanine, especially in green tea, which can effect beta waves in the brain. When you sip coffee, you feel fairly nice because of the two caffeine-related stimulant drugs in tea and coffee, such as theobromine and theophylline. These drugs in tea and coffee have psychoactive effects on the brain.


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Caffeine is a psychoactive substance and very famous in the world. Coffee is the largest source of caffeine, and it is also one of the Western diet’s largest sources of antioxidants. The world’s second-biggest source of caffeine is tea, and it can provide a mild quantity of caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, improves alertness, and decreases somnolence. However, this is because it blocks inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine in certain brain synapses, resulting in stimulant effects. The adenosine increases in the body throughout the day, creating some sleep stress. The more adenosine, the higher the inclination to fall asleep. Therefore, caffeine can reverse this effect. The difference between coffee and tea is that tea has much less caffeine in it. A big cup of coffee contains about 300 mg of caffeine, while a cup of tea contains 30 to 70 mg of caffeine. (1, 2)

Theobromine and Theophylline

The theophylline and theobromine in caffeine belong to a family of organic compounds xanthines. Both have various physiological effects. Theophylline relaxes smooth muscles in the airway, promoting breathing, while also increasing the rate of heart contractions. However, it has a mild diuretic effect and increases the circulation of blood across the body, which may lower blood pressure. Cocoa beans are also powerful sources of both substances. The concentrations of these drugs in tea are very low, and their effect on the body is mild. Therefore, most of the caffeine you drink is metabolized into theophylline and theobromine, and the level of these two metabolites will raise every time you drink caffeinated beverages. (3)


L-theanine is a special amino acid class. It can reach the brain like caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, by crossing the blood-brain barrier. L-theanine enhances the production of brain waves (alpha waves) in humans, which can cause relaxation. L-theanine can also affect brain neurotransmitters, such as GABA and dopamine. However, some studies show that L-theanine can improve mindfulness and brain function in combination with caffeine. (4, 5)

Tea and Coffee Effects on the Brain

Tea and coffee both involve caffeine. Therefore, both have a stimulant-like effect on the brain. The effect of tea is like being soft, while coffee has a rapid, strong brain-boosting effect. Coffee has some disadvantages for some people because sometimes it stops you from doing work because it can trigger your brain. This unnecessary coffee stimulating effect can cause you to waste a lot of time. The downsides of caffeine are such as scrolling mobile reading messages and reading meaningless news articles. In this scenario, tea has less caffeine than coffee. Therefore, the drugs in tea have a complementary effect on your brain.


Tea seems to be the best choice when doing a computer job or learning, while coffee is better suited for physical activities. The drugs in tea can stimulate the neurological system, increase alertness, and reduces sleepiness. It blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine at specific brain synapses, producing stimulant effects. Tea contains far less caffeine than coffee, thus its effect on the body is mild.


  1. Rivera-Oliver M, Díaz-Ríos M. Using caffeine and other adenosine receptor antagonists and agonists as therapeutic tools against neurodegenerative diseases: a review. Life Sci. 2014.
  2. Caffeine: cognitive and physical performance enhancer or psychoactive drug? Curr Neuropharmacol. 2015.
  3. Health benefits of methylxanthines in cacao and chocolate. Nutrients. 2013.
  4. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008.- Advertisement –
  5. The neuropharmacology of L-theanine(N-ethyl-L-glutamine): a possible neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing agent. J Herb Pharmacother. 2006.
  6. The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol. 2008.
  7. L-theanine and caffeine in combination affect human cognition as evidenced by oscillatory alpha-band activity and attention task performance. J Nutr. 2008.
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Naeem Durrani BSc
I am a retired pharmacist, nutrition expert, journalist, and more. My interests include medical research, and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices, which empower people to transform their lives.

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