Teas With Benefits For Your Mind And Your Body

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated February 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Tea has been steeped, brewed, and consumed by humanity for thousands of years. Besides its versatility, tea is associated with many physical health benefits, including reduced risk of cancer, reduced risk of heart disease, weight loss, smoother digestion, and a strengthened immune system to fight disease. But can drinking tea be as good for your brain as it is for your body? More research is needed on the therapeutic properties of tea, but preliminary research demonstrates that the beverage may indeed provide some level of mental health benefit. 


Mental health benefits of tea

Tea can be an umbrella term for any warm drink made from steeping plant materials. Today, you can find teas made from mushroom caps, turmeric stems, and catnip leaves. Some additives and alternative teas can benefit your mental well-being. But it may be worth focusing on the camellia sinensis plant, which can have mental health benefits. 

Tea made from the camellia sinensis plant contains a chemical compound known as l-theanine. Consuming l-theanine may be helpful for human health in a variety of ways. It may lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and counteract symptoms of anxiety. It may even stimulate a particular kind of brain activity called alpha waves, which can produce a sense of relaxation and calm. 

Most teas made from the camellia sinensis plant also contain caffeine. Black and green tea have the highest amounts of caffeine, while oolong, white, purple, and pu-erh tea have smaller amounts. The caffeine in tea is often processed differently in the human body than the caffeine from other sources (like coffee). Caffeine and L-theanine in teas may work together to produce a feeling that isn’t an energy boost as much as it is a boost in clarity.

The L-theanine and caffeine in tea may help physically and mentally soothe the body. This calmness may positively impact a range of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression.

Types of tea

Green and black teas are some of the most widely consumed teas, so more research has been conducted on their potential health benefits. However, many kinds of tea may also have positive mental health impacts, including herbal tea.

Exploring the benefits of green tea and matcha

Green tea may provide the most concentrated benefits of any kind of tea, partly due to the higher concentration of polyphenols in its leaves. Green tea polyphenol (an umbrella term for various compounds, including flavanols and catechins) has been linked to some medicinal properties, some of which can positively impact mental health. Certain compounds in green tea have also been found to potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer and other forms of cancer.

Consuming green tea or green tea extract may have a similar impact on the body as antidepressants, without the associated unpleasant side effects of such medication. It may activate neural networks related to the transmission of dopamine, colloquially known as the “feel good” hormone. 

Matcha tea is a form of green tea that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is a powder made from pulverized green tea leaves and is often associated with mindfulness practices, partly because of its use within Buddhist monasteries and the Japanese tea ceremony. 

Matcha may be a more intense version of green tea. Because it is used in powder form, it can be mixed into a wider array of tasty treats like smoothies and ice cream. Some people report that drinking tea made from matcha gives them a “body high” that helps to clear their minds. 

Exploring the benefits of black tea

Though black tea does not have as many polyphenols as green tea, it may have more powerful cognitive effects. Black tea is typically more caffeinated than green tea, meaning it may maximize the l-theanine and caffeine interaction discussed above. 

Studies have indicated that consumption of black tea may be associated with a lower risk of developing neurocognitive disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. Evidence indicates that drinking black tea could also promote higher levels of executive functioning, particularly on memory-related tasks.

Black tea may produce a stabilizing effect on the body and brain that could defend against symptoms of mental health conditions. Preliminary research indicates that it could help to lower blood pressure (high blood pressure is associated with increased anxiety and stress) and may have preventive qualities related to depression as well. Additionally, black tea does not impact blood sugar levels, making it a good choice of low-calorie beverage for people living with type 2 diabetes.


Exploring benefits of chamomile and other herbal teas

Chamomile tea technically does not involve steeping the camellia sinensis plant but instead steeping the chamomile plant's flowers. This process means chamomile tea does not provide the benefits associated with consuming l-theanine, but chamomile can be a wellness star in its own right. 

This tea is widely used as a sleep aid because of the soothing feeling of calm it may produce. It may reduce nervousness, lower heart rate, alleviate worry, and address other anxiety symptoms. 

Chamomile’s calming effect and anti-inflammatory properties may also make it a helpful balm for people experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Finally, evidence suggests that consuming chamomile tea may stimulate the immune system and promote health.

Other herbal teas may also improve your overall well-being. Hibiscus tea is sometimes associated with reducing the nervous system's activation, giving your body a chance to relax and recharge. Ginger tea, in addition to promoting digestive health, may be associated with higher levels of serotonin, another hormone linked to the prevention of depression. 

Maximizing holistic wellness with tea

Drinking tea to promote mental well-being can be a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Examples include yoga, qigong, meditation, and mindfulness practices. CAM treatments may not have as much research as other medical procedures, but they can impact your mental health. Incorporating CAM and contemporary treatments may lead to more significant benefits than practicing either separately or exclusively.

If you want to build on the positive mental health benefits of drinking tea, you may want to consider speaking to a therapist. With the many conflicting priorities for our time in today’s society, finding time to see a professional in person can be complicated. If you feel you may find less stress partaking in therapy from home (where you can drink a cup of tea during your therapy session!), you may want to consider online therapy

Scientific research has demonstrated that online counseling may be as beneficial as attending a traditional in-person session. To further build on the anxiety-reducing and depression-alleviating properties of drinking tea, you may want to talk to a therapist about online cognitive behavioral therapy, which one study indicated can help reduce symptoms for various mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. Online counseling may be a convenient way to combine two activities to improve your mental health: talking to a  and drinking a warm cup of tea. 



Drinking tea may have a variety of physical and mental health benefits. While more research is needed to confirm the efficacy of some of its mental health effects, preliminary research indicates that drinking tea may help alleviate some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression. There is also a strong correlation between moderate tea consumption and good physical health. Speaking with a therapist online may help build upon the mental health benefits tea provides.
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