What is GABA Tea?
You've probably heard of GABA tea and its benefits. Picking up some of it from the shelf, we see claims of stress relief, pain relief, and happiness promotion. While it does all those things, taking it in the form of tea or supplements doesn't allow it to get absorbed by the body the same way as when it's naturally produced within our bodies.
GABA tea is processed 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 bit 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 gamma-Aminobutyric acid naturally found in our bodies. It does not relate to the one we get from the supplements.
Although it is sold as a dietary supplement, it is also found naturally in tea. We prefer the latter.
Naturally, all tea has gamma-Aminobutyric acid, although in relatively small amounts that don't play a significant enough role. In the 1980s, Japanese scientists found that letting green tea ferment for 6 to 10 hours in a nitrogen-rich/ oxygen-free environment results in the rise of gamma-Aminobutyric acid in the tea leaves ten times the original. Later on, scientists 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 gamma-Aminobutyric acid per 100 grams of tea leaves. Nowadays, the biggest producers of this 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. The L-theanine found in tea aids the body in its gamma-Aminobutyric acid production. Having this in our bodies is vital for keeping both emotional and physical balance.
The Effects of GABA
In the 1980s, stores commonly sold GABA tea as a stress and pain reliever. Although studies on whether or not it can cross the Blood to Brain Barrier (BBB) when taken orally were inconclusive. Nowadays, there are ongoing studies on its permeability, and some scientists believe that GABA taken orally can get to the brain in substantial amounts. Recent studies, while still inconclusive whether or not GABA can cross the BBB, give us more knowledge of what it can do.
Among other things, GABA tea can help with lowering blood pressure. Furthermore, studies have shown that the blood gamma-Aminobutyric acid levels are elevated just 30 minutes after oral GABA consumption.
Aside from specially produced GABA teas, White Tea has a significantly larger amount of gamma-Aminobutyric acid than other types.
How is GABA tea made?
To produce GABA-rich tea, farmers first shade the tea bushes for two 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, they put the fresh-picked tea leaves into stainless steel vacuum drums. There, 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 gamma-Aminobutyric acid within the tea.
What does GABA tea taste like?
The taste will depend on the type of 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 slightly sour, a sometimes bit sweeter, savory, and malty, rather than a fresh vegetal or floral one.
Should I try GABA tea?
While many of the health benefits of this tea are under question, many people do enjoy drinking it. Some claim that it promotes clarity and a peaceful state of being. While this could result from the placebo effect, it is essential 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?