What is GABA Tea?
We've all seen GABA tea with it's miraculous benefits and sky-high prices. Picking up some GABA tea from the shelf we see claims of stress relief, pain relief and happiness promotion, amongst some. While GABA does do all those things, taking GABA in the form of tea or supplements doesn't allow it to get absorbed by the body in the same way as when it's naturally produced within our bodies.
GABA tea is fermented differently than other tea types. It undergoes a unique oxygen-free fermentation process after which the tea leaves stock up on GABA.
Now let’s get a little technical. GABA: gamma-Aminobutyric acid. A component that is directly responsible for the regulation of our muscle tone, calming the nerves, improving sleep, and balancing our moods. This is a specific reference to the GABA naturally found in our bodies and does not relate to the GABA we get from GABA supplements.
Although GABA is sold as a dietary supplement, it is also found naturally in tea. We prefer the latter.
Naturally, all tea has GABA in it, although in relatively small amounts that don’t play a significant enough role. In the 1980s Japanese scientists found out that letting green tea ferment for 6 to 10 hours in a nitrogen-rich / oxygen-free environment results in an amount of GABA in the tea leaves 10 times the original. Later on, it was discovered that black tea and oolong that underwent the same process would also result in a large amount of GABA.
GABA teas must have at least 150 mg of GABA per 100 grams of tea leaves. Nowadays the biggest producers of GABA tea are based in Taiwan and primarily produce oolongs.
Furthermore, we can receive GABA not only from drinking special GABA-rich tea but also from regular teas. In fact, the L-theanine found in tea aids the body in its own GABA production. Having GABA in our bodies is vital for keeping both emotional and physical balance.
The Effects of GABA
In the 1980s GABA tea was commonly sold as a stress and pain reliever, although it was later on discovered that when taken orally, it cannot cross the Blood to Brain Barrier (BBB), thus cannot help with these conditions.
What GABA tea can do, however, is help with lowering blood pressure.
Aside from specially produced GABA teas, it was determined that White tea has a significantly larger amount of GABA than other tea types.
How is GABA tea made?
To produce GABA-rich tea the tea bushes are first shaded for 2 weeks before harvest, this increases the tea's natural glutamic acid index. (This method is similar to the production of L-theanine-rich Japanese teas like matcha and gyokuro).
Afterward, the fresh-picked tea leaves are put into stainless steel vacuum drums, where the oxygen is removed and replaced with nitrogen. The tea remains in this environment for 8 to 10 hours. This processing method results in the highest concentration of GABA within tea.
What does GABA tea taste like?
This will depend on the type of GABA tea that you are trying. The most popular being oolongs, if you try a high mountain GABA oolong tea, it won’t taste drastically different from other similar types of oolong tea. However, things to note are that the taste will be more sweet, savory, and malty, rather than a fresh vegetal or floral one.
Should I try GABA tea?
While many of the health benefits of GABA tea are questionable, many people do enjoy drinking GABA tea, claiming that it promotes clarity as well as a peaceful state of being. While this could possibly be a result of the placebo effect, it is essential first to have your facts straight and not believe in false advertising. Our suggestion is to try and see for yourself. If it makes you feel peaceful and happy, then why not?
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