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Caldorian said

Good Tea for Meditation?

Hi there!

I’m looking for recommendations concerning teas that are good for drinking before meditation. What are the specific qualities that I’m looking for in a tea?

1) It should induce a calm wakefulness. Sleepiness is one of the five hindrances in meditation, but so is restlessness. A good tea should help in finding the balance between the two.

2) It should reduce saliva production. Saliva production is natural and there won’t be a meditation sitting when you don’t have to swallow your saliva at one point. However, a strong saliva production and constant swallowing can be distracting both to yourself as well as to the persons meditating next to you. Therefore, it’s helpful for meditation if a tea results in a pleasant dryness of the mouth.

Can anyone recommend me good teas based on these specifications?
Personally, I prefer green, oolong, and pu’er teas but I’m open to any suggestions that fit.

Thanks in advance! :)

27 Replies

You want something to induce a calm wakefulness? Well then, theanine is a prime candidate! My understanding is that theanine is present in any ‘true’ tea (from the camellia sinensis plant), but green tea (in general) has the highest concentration of theanine of any class of tea.

Here are a few links on theanine:

http://www.greatvistachemicals.com/amino_acids/l-theanine.html
http://laura-owens.suite101.com/green-tea—l-theanine—-natural-anti-anxiety-a59595
http://svakanda.hubpages.com/hub/How-Much-Theanine-In-Drinks

I see in your cupboard that you have a Japanese Sencha. Gyorkuro is a Japanse green tea. Considering its cost, I am not a big fan of Gyorkuro for taste, but it is supposed to have high concentrations of theanine—due to its being shade grown.

On a tea that reduces saliva production, I have no idea. I sometimes sit for medication, and I have personally never found salivating—and the consequent swallowing—to distract me. Still, in general, when a tea becomes astringent (usually after steeping it for too long) it can produce a ‘dryness of the mouth’ feeling. I never thought of it as a side benefit, though. Interesting.

Good luck with your search!

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I’m not sure about the saliva production, but I find that any sort of yerba mate really focuses me and keeps me alert. I’m not a green tea fan so that’s what I would try :)

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Caldorian said

Thank you for your recommendations! :)

I’ll try a Gyokuro and Yerba Mate tea as soon as I have used up some of my current teas.
I think I tried Yerba Mate only once before, when a friend brought some from Argentina; I liked it then. So far, I haven’t had Gyokuro yet, mostly because I started with Japanese green teas only relatively recently. I’ll have to try it, I love Matcha, but at the same time, I’m not too big a fan of Sencha. (All the Senchas that I tried so far had a weak sour aspect to them, at least compared to most Chinese green teas that I know, and this sourness doesn’t really become my stomach.)

Salivating and the swallowing is not a big distraction, only a small one. In fact, most of the time, saliva production lessens with increasing concentration during meditation. In my experience, it mostly correlates with a mind lacking in concentration, although I cannot say what depends on what more. The question came up after I had been sitting next to someone during Vipassana meditation who I could hear swallow in very regular intervals. And I also know it from first-hand experience, e.g., when I was sitting in meditation, unfocused and/or hungry, swallowing regularly; I could observe how this swallowing and the lack of concentration interacted to constantly produce thoughts about eating, or about why the mouth has to be so wet, etc.
I guess, having a tea that decreases saliva production could help to remove this (small) distraction at least. ;)

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My brother drinks Dragonwell before meditating. not sure why buts its important to him, maybe it works for you to :)

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hey there – I spent some time with a yoga/meditation teacher while he was travelling here in China (he had a bit of a fascination with tea as well). His name is Ariel, website is idenciel.com and he might be able to offer you some tips from his experience perhaps? All the best, Chris

Caldorian said

Thanks, I’ll check his website and maybe I’ll contact him. Although I don’t really know whether that wouldn’t come out of the blue too much… I’d be pretty surprised if a total stranger contacted me because of something like this. ;)

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david said

I’m a fan of a good ali shan for wakeful calmness.

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teataku said

That was a really informative post, SimpliciTea! I learned something new today. n_n

I also find that green teas work best for me if I’m in a relaxed mood but desire a little boost to my mental energy. I choose various ones depending on what flavors I’m in the mood for, though. So, based on the previous posts and my own experience, perhaps just stick to your favorite green tea? Drinking the same one each time might also contribute to the sense of routine and ritual that is prized by some who meditate.

I’m glad you appreciated it and learned something new! I have many more links to articles on theanine and the benefits of green tea; if you are interested, you can respond here or send me a PM. : )

I agree with you when you advise sticking to drinking your favorite green tea! As trite as it may sound, I’ve personally found that it’s much easier to do things on a regular basis if it’s something I really like. Another-words, I have found that doing something that I think is ‘good for me’ in some way but which I don’t enjoy doing is not sustainable. For example, although I don’t love the taste of Gyokuro (or its price), I like it enough to drink it on work mornings to give me the extra theanine boost for the day. On other days, I drink one of my preferred Chinese green teas.

And yes, I certainly value routine and ritual. I practice Yoga and drink a pot of green tea EVERY morning, and it really helps me to get a good start to my day!

Caldorian said

Yes, I agree that it was a very informative post; I didn’t really know about theanine and how it differs from caffeine. Interesting!

If you have more links or information, please post them! :)

Here are the links to information about theanine that I dug up. I wanted to verify these links were still active before I posted these here. As it’s been a while, I enjoyed perusing them, again. : )

I found about theanine (sometimes called, L-theanine) when searching the web for GABA (I was told that GABA is a natural way to help reduce anxiety); and as GABA and theanine are related, I included links on GABA too. I know, it’s a long list, and there’s going to be some redundancy, but why not include them all? Enjoy!

http://laura-owens.suite101.com/ltheanine-improves-sleep-and-a65390
http://laura-owens.suite101.com/green-tea—l-theanine—-natural-anti-anxiety-a59595
http://laura-owens.suite101.com/do-gaba-supplements-help-anxiety-a89780
http://laura-owens.suite101.com/gaba-foods-natural-anti-anxiety-nutrition-a82345
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/green-tea/
http://www.nutritionalconcepts.com/supplements/L-Theanine.htm
http://www.web-us.com/l-theanine_anxiety_reducer.htm
http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA326574
http://www.springerlink.com/content/n8231g723q50p0g1/
http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/herb/l-theanine
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17595106
http://www.greatvistachemicals.com/amino_acids/l-theanine.html
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2009-04-13/health/28027039_1_green-tea-flavonoid-dry-tea
http://www.liptont.com/tea_health/performance/index.aspx
http://www.amazing-green-tea.com/theanine.html
http://www.amazing-green-tea.com/theanine-health-benefits.html
http://www.amazing-green-tea.com/theanine-side-effects.html
http://svakanda.hubpages.com/hub/How-Much-Theanine-In-Drinks
http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=10822
http://www.teachat.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=955&p=84688&hilit=white+tea+theanine#p84688
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/section?content=a713731117&fulltext=713240928 – it looks like you now have to pay to read the results. I have some of the results which are in table format, and they are pretty interesting. If anyone is interested, respond here, and I can PM you with them, or post them here.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theanine
http://greentealovers.com/greenteahealthcatechin.htm#theanine

Caldorian said

SimpliciTEA, thank you so much!
That’s quite a list… it will take a bit time to go through all of these links, but you have been most helpful! :)

You’re welcome. It took quite some time to find all of those articles. I am glad some use came out of my decision to save all of the links. : )

If you find any other interesting information on theanine, or good teas for meditation, feel free to share them with us!

Mark B select said

Wow, that’s quite the mother load SimpliciTEA! I was just searching the forums for “theanine” to see what kind of chatter might be out there. Thanks for all the info.

You’re welcome, Mark B. I hope you find some of the articles useful and interesting.

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Definitely green tea. It has the best balance of calming wakefulness, partly because of the theanine (especially the japanese varieties).

Also, if the Japanese teas are upsetting your stomach, try having a small snack with your tea. Nothing too big, just something to ease your stomach into the tea. This is much of the reason for serving a small sweet with matcha in Chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony, which incidentally, is a great confluence of meditation, tea, and action.

Caldorian said

Thanks, that’s a good point. I will try to have a small snack with my Sencha next time.

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From personal experience I would highly recommend a silver needle. I only have experience with Rishi Tea’s silver needle but it was by far the most calming tea I’ve ever had. It’s very mellow and subtle, not too high on caffeine, and from what I understand it’s also very high in theanine compared to many other teas. And I also noticed a little bit of a pleasant dryness of the mouth when consuming it.

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Caldorian said

Guys, I appreciate all the recommendations! Thanks! :)

So, on my list are:

- Yerba Mate

- Gyokuro

- Dragon Well & Silver Needle: I had both these teas in my cupboard before and liked them both. However, at that time I didn’t meditate daily and thus cannot say how they impacted my meditation. Also, I didn’t try the tall glass brewing method with the Dragon Well, so I’ll definitely try it again.

- Ali Shan

So many teas to try… :D

Dragon Well (and really, simply green tea) was traditionally imbibed by Buddhist monks for thousands of years to help create that ‘calm wakefulness’ state of mind.

Silver Needle may also be helpful for this (I haven’t had enough it it to speak from experience) because it is a bud-only tea; my understanding is that buds are high in BOTH caffeine, AND theanine; they work hand-in-hand the such that the calming effects of the theanine helps to dampen the more unwanted side affects of caffeine (like the jitters) while complimenting the wakeful aspect caffeine can impart to our nervous system. At least, that is my understanding based on what I remember reading. Take it for what it worth, and I invite you to do more digging for confirmation if you are interested. I hope to post more of those links on theanine sometime soon.

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