We’ve all been there: working tirelessly, late into the wee hours of the morning, trying to meet an important deadline for work or school. For many, these late night work sessions are fueled, at least in large part, by caffeine. For many, this means coffee or energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster.
We’d like to change that.
Because it’s got a lower caffeine content than coffee, drinking tea makes it much easier to control just how much caffeine you take in. This helps you to keep track of your intake so you can avoid the dreaded post-caffeine-rush crash.
And all that’s not to mention the huge number of diverse types of tea out there for you to try. Drinking tea can help you power through an intense load of work, while also exposing yourself to a wide range of flavors, from grassy green tea to malty black teas. Not only will drinking tea help you stay focused, but testing out new flavors will certainly keep you stimulated.
If you’re looking for a tea that’ll keep you focused — whether you’ve got a big work deadline or a final exam coming up — you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ve collected some of the best teas to boost your energy and get you ready for an intense, high-powered work or study session. We’ve also collected a comprehensive, research-backed guide breaking down the ways in which tea helps you focus.
Five Best Teas For Focus and Concentration
The best teas for focus will allow you to keep your mind concentrated on the task at hand, while also helping you remain calm and relaxed — maybe even a little bit cozy if you’re not too stressed out from the deadlines looming over you.
Camellia sinensis is the plant used to produce tea. It naturally has a moderate level of caffeine that energizes and stimulates you.
On the other hand, if you just need something to relieve your stress and keep you focused, herbal teas might be your best bet. Camellia sinensis-based teas will definitely keep you awake and focused, but if you’re sensitive to caffeine, herbal teas are a great option to relax you and keep you concentrated on the tasks you need to complete. Although these are caffeine-free varieties, rooibos, peppermint tea and ginger tea have a variety of other compounds and antioxidants in them that are sure to help you remain concentrated on your work. Additionally, the anti-inflammatory properties in these teas can help ease you into a more comfortable state of mind, allowing you to focus on what really matters: getting your work done.
Here’s our selection of the best teas to help you power your way through the work you’ve got lined up. Get ready to grab yourself a cup of tea and get to work.
Best Green Teas For Focus
Renowned for its powerful wakening properties (not to mention a host of other health benefits), green tea is a potent option for hard workers looking for a burst of energy. Whether you drink it in the morning or at the beginning of a long night, green tea might just be what you’re looking for.
After white tea, green tea typically has the lowest caffeine content of the “true” teas derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. This means you might have to drink a couple of cups before you really feel a boost in energy, but it’s still a powerful tea for uplifting and keeping you focused. When paired with other herbs like ginger or ginseng tea, green tea is one of the best options for improving your mental clarity. Plus, green tea lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol, improving blood flow and brain function altogether.
One particularly potent option is matcha green tea. Matcha is a popular green tea with origins in East Asia. Because of the way it’s grown, matcha typically has a much higher caffeine content than other green teas, so it’s a great option if you’re planning on pulling an all-nighter. But it also has higher levels of L-theanine (often referred to more simply as theanine), an amino acid that’s also helpful in keeping you focused.
While too much caffeine can cause the jitters and make you a little bit anxious, theanine helps counter that effect. Theanine has been shown to have excellent stress-reducing properties. If you’re prone to caffeine-induced anxiety, we recommend sipping on a matcha green tea, as its high theanine levels can help you to counteract that effect.
Here’s our pick of the best green teas for keeping you focused for work and study: Jade Leaf Organic Matcha Green Tea, Tipson Organic Matcha Green Tea with Honey and Lemon, Uncle Lee’s Organic Green Tea
Best Oolong Teas For Focus
Like green tea, oolong is rich in both theanine and caffeine. These two chemical compounds are key to improving your mental focus without leading you to over-stress or develop slight anxiety, as coffee tends to do.
While oolongs have a higher caffeine content than most green teas, they also have slightly lower caffeination than matcha tea. This means that it’s a good intermediate between matcha and low caffeine green teas. In the case of oolong tea, we suggest sipping on loose leaf teas rather than bagged teas. This is because the tea that comes in tea bags may be somewhat stale. Oftentimes, tea bags include a high concentration of fannings, which are the broken, ground up bits of tea leaves that are leftover after processing more high-quality, loose leaf teas.
Since tea bags tend to have a high concentration of fannings, they can go stale faster. This not only impacts the flavor of the tea, but it also diminishes its effect on your cognition.
Higher-quality, whole leaf oolong is really the way to go. If you can’t get your hands on loose leaf tea, or simply prefer the convenience of tea bags (and let’s be honest — when you’re trying to stay focused on work, some of us just don’t have the time or patience to fuss around with loose tea leaves), you may want to look into purchasing empty tea bags or a high-quality bagged oolong that uses whole leaves rather than fannings.
Best Black Teas For Focus
Tea drinkers often swear by black tea as the best tea for focus. And they just might be onto something.
It may not be particularly surprising that breakfast tea blends, by and large, consist of a variety of black teas. Of the teas derived from Camellia sinensis, black tea undergoes full oxidation — this not only allows the tea to develop a deeper, slightly more astringent flavor profile, but it also allows the tea to develop much more caffeine than other varieties of tea, like green or oolong tea.
Black tea may not have as much theanine as matcha, so be careful not to drink too much. Otherwise, the caffeine in the tea just might have you bouncing off the walls. Still, there is a decent amount of theanine and antioxidants such as catechins that should help you maintain focus without getting quite as jittery as a cup of coffee might.
Masala chai, which consists of black tea infused with ginger and even turmeric may be a particularly good option. Ayurvedic ginger and turmeric teas on their own have been shown to help with inflammation and cognitive function. When combined with the caffeine and theanine in black tea, this may keep you even more alert and focused than a simple black tea like English breakfast tea.
Best Peppermint Teas For Focus
If you need to stay focused but don’t necessarily want to take in any caffeine, peppermint tea could just be the right tea for you.
Peppermint tea is an herbal tea — because it’s derived from mint, which doesn’t contain any caffeine, it in turn does not have any caffeine at all, unless it’s used to flavor other caffeinated teas (peppermint and caffeinated green tea are a popular tea blend). Peppermint has been shown to significantly improve an individual’s memory. This means that it’s a good option for individuals who need to cram for a final examination.
Peppermint also has great calming and cooling properties. The menthol that naturally occurs in peppermint cools and relaxes your body, which may help you become more comfortable during the work process.
If you feel like you need a little bit of caffeine to keep you awake and focused, peppermint’s a great supplement to numerous caffeinated tea blends. Peppermint alone won’t help you power through an all-night study session, but it will keep you focused during the day. That way, you hopefully won’t need to pull an all-nighter, as you’ll hopefully complete all your work during normal working hours.
Here’s our pick of the best peppermint teas for keeping you focused for work and study: Twinings of London Pure Peppermint, Celestial Seasonings Peppermint Peak Black Tea, Bigelow Peppermint Herbal Tea
Best Yerba Mate Teas For Focus
Another herbal tea, yerba mate is a popular green beverage that has its roots in South America.
Made from the leaves of the yerba mate plant, this tea has long been a favorite in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Traditionally, it’s drunk from a hollowed-out gourd using a filtered straw. These days, you’re likely to see cans of yerba mate in the refrigerated aisle of your local supermarket — that said, we recommend purchasing the yerba mate leaves to brew on your own, as the quality of fresh-brewed mate will be far superior to the canned stuff.
Yerba mate is know for several health benefits thanks to its high concentration of antioxidants and polyphenols that help reduce fat cells and reduce anxiety and depression. Though it does not contain high doses of theanine, it does have other chemical compounds that are known to act as mild antidepressants — this effect can lower your stress and anxiety.
But all that’s not to mention the most important factor of all: yerba mate is one of the few herbal teas that has a high caffeine content. It has a slightly different flavor from traditional tea — yerba mate is closest in flavor to matcha, but all in all, it’s a bit grassier than green tea, with a slightly deeper, more bitter flavor profile.
How Tea Helps While Studying
Different teas have different effects on the body, depending on whether or not they’re true teas (i.e., made from Camellia sinensis leaves) or herbal teas.
Teas that are made from Camellia sinensis are an excellent option for late night studying. Because they contain both caffeine and theanine (as well as a host of other antioxidants like polyphenols, catechins, specifically EGCG), these teas do an excellent job of helping you maintain focus, without getting overly stressed.
Caffeine improves alertness and helps keep you awake — this is especially important if you’re planning on staying up late or need to get to work early in the morning. While there’s not quite as much caffeine in a cup of tea as there is in a cup of coffee, you can typically get an equivalent dose of caffeine by drinking two to three servings of tea in place of one serving of coffee.
Caffeine comes at a cost though — if you drink too much, you’ll find yourself anxious and unable to focus productively. That’s why the other compounds in tea are so helpful. Theanine and EGCG (short for epigallocatechin gallate) help you relax, as they fight off anxiety and stress. While the caffeine keeps you alert and awake, the other compounds prevent you from going overboard and getting too anxious.
Additionally, those antioxidants and other chemical compounds help fight free radicals in your body, reducing inflammation and improving the function of your brain cells. These compounds help fight cognitive impairment, and have even been shown to decrease an individual’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease. By preventing cognitive decline, tea helps you maintain alertness not only in your study and work sessions, but also throughout your entire life, allowing you to develop healthy work habits.
Herbal teas tend to work a little bit differently. Peppermint, for example, helps you get the most out of your study session by improving your memory. Since it doesn’t have caffeine, it may not be the best for keeping you awake, but it will improve your brain health and help you remember the facts you need to memorize. On the other hand, some caffeinated herbal teas, such as yerba mate, work quite similarly to traditional teas.
Tea vs. Coffee: Which is the Better Option For Memory & Focus?
Hands down, tea is the better option for memory and focus.
Sure, coffee will keep you awake and alert, but it also has its pitfalls. Unlike tea, coffee does not have a high concentration of compounds like theanine, which puts you at risk of getting anxious or getting the jitters.
The antioxidants and amino acids in tea help to counteract the negative effects of caffeine — specifically, they help reduce anxiety and stress, allowing you to take advantage of the alertness caffeine gives you without having to worry about going overboard. While you can easily drink six or seven cups of tea in a nightly study session, you probably don’t want to drink that many cups of coffee.
And that’s not to mention that herbal teas such as peppermint tea have been proven to have memory boosting effects that coffee does not have. If you combine peppermint tea with another tea variety like black or green tea, you get all the benefits of coffee and more: improved memory and low stress levels.
The lower caffeine levels in tea could also be a major advantage. Because you have to drink more tea to get the same effect you would from a cup of coffee, tea allows you to take in caffeine with far more precision than coffee does. This is particularly good if you’re sensitive to caffeine, as tea provides a couple of extra layers of defense from the headaches and anxiety that caffeine may cause.
Does tea improve focus?
It does! Like coffee, tea contains caffeine, a chemical compound that increases your alertness and keeps you wide awake. Caffeine alone isn’t enough though — because it can cause anxiety and increase your stress levels, caffeine may, ironically, reduce your focus levels. However, tea has several other components that fight off the anxiety-causing properties of caffeine. These components help you to get the benefits of caffeine without having to feel the downsides.
Which tea is good for brain health?
Pretty much all teas are good for your brain health. Green teas are particularly good for your brain health (and your physical health in general), as they contain high concentrations of EGCG. This catechin stimulates your brain and improves function. In general though, all teas are good for your brain health — regular tea drinkers have been shown to be less likely to experience cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s disease. As such, we recommend trying out a handful of teas on this list to find the one that tastes the best and makes you feel the best.