Tea lovers across the world swear by the flavor of the Darjeeling tea (Camellia sinensis). But flavor’s not the only thing that makes it hot property. Darjeeling tea can make you feel calm and relaxed but also focused and alert at the same time, thanks to its L-theanine content. It increases alpha waves in the brain. These are the brain waves associated with a relaxed but clearly focused mind, somewhat like the meditative state. Darjeeling tea can also suppress a group of enzymes that activate toxins in the body.
Traditional Darjeeling tea is typically black tea, fruity in flavor with floral undertones. The very pigments responsible for its taste and colour are also what make it a healthy beverage. These pigments are called theaflavins and thearubigins.
What about the extremely popular antioxidant tea catechins? They’re there too but in much lower amounts than found in green tea. For some background, both black tea and green tea are made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis. However, black tea leaves undergo an extra fermentation/oxidation step because of which the catechins pair up and transform into theaflavins. Like we said, theaflavins too come with benefits.
Why It’s So Great
1. Makes You Feel Relaxed Yet Alert
Alpha waves in the brain indicate an “idling” brain, one that is deeply relaxed yet alert, like in a meditative state.
- An amino acid called L-theanine in Darjeeling tea helps increase the alpha waves in your brain by directly influencing the central nervous system. You are left feeling calm and relaxed but also very focused and alert – without any drowsiness. Doesn’t that sound ideal?
Also, contrary to what was previously believed, black tea has more L-theanine than green tea. It also has more caffeine, but only half of what coffee has.
As we all know, caffeine too helps make you more attentive and awake, increasing your overall energy levels. It does this by communicating with your sympathetic nervous system (the part of the nervous system that prepares you for action) and increasing the release of chemicals called catecholamines, including adrenaline (heard of an adrenaline rush?). Your heart beats faster, more blood is sent to your muscles, and your liver is forced to release sugar for energy.
But because of L-theanine, this effect is muted, smoothed even in Darjeeling tea. So, you won’t experience the typical jarring, abrupt bursts of energy that coffee or any other caffeinated drink normally brings.
2. Supports Internal Detox
The body has internal systems in place to identify and get rid of toxins, i.e. to detox. These may be toxins you inhale or consume or that are produced as by-products of biochemical processes within the body itself.
One of these systems includes a group of enzymes called sulfotransferases, or SULT. They have a dual effect though. While they help to inactivate and make life difficult for toxins in general, in certain cases, they help activate them. That’s where Darjeeling tea comes in handy.
- Its theaflavins and thearubigins completely inhibit SULT1A1 and strongly inhibit SULT1A3.
These checks are necessary.
3. Calms the Mind and Improves Your Mood
The aroma of Darjeeling tea does this, all on its own.
- It has been seen to inhibit an increase in salivary chromogranin-A, released from submandibular glands in the lower jaw. This chemical is triggered in stressful situations and so is used as a marker.
Drinking the tea is especially useful before you do something you know will be mentally taxing. Within half an hour itself you may start to feel a difference.
Prepare Darjeeling tea by steeping a teaspoonful of the loose leaves in a cup of hot water for 3–5 minutes. We’d say don’t add milk to the tea before you try it without milk first. You may be pleasantly surprised by the entire spectrum of flavors you get this way, from fruity and nutty to flowery and spicy.
The tea is best not had on an empty stomach, especially if you have a sensitive one. A cup mid-morning after breakfast may work best.