Two years ago, I made a YouTube video called “How to Get Tea Drunk” in which I discussed the psychoactive effects of tea. Since its release, our London teahouse has become a destination for those who want to experience tea drunkenness. We happily oblige, and send them off nicely toasted on tea.
The concept of tea drunkenness is nothing new. In fact, tea culture is rooted in its psychoactive effects. Cultivation even began near the Golden Triangle in Yunnan province, where it was grown among opium and cannabis.
Tea contains a cocktail of natural stimulants and mood enhancers that work together to give a unique high. L-theanine, found almost exclusively in tea leaves, readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and changes brain chemistry. It boosts alpha brain wave activity and increases the neurotransmitters GABA and dopamine to give you a deep and happy high. Combine it with the stimulating effects of caffeine and you have two compounds that work to keep you awake, positive and relaxed.
Catechins in tea have also been shown to bind to the receptors of your endocannabinoid system to give you a feeling of reward and euphoria. Some teas give a more trippy, dizzy feeling. These tend to be the more aged varieties and I suspect there are other compounds created during ageing that add to the psychoactive effects.
Monks have drunk tea for centuries to stimulate alpha brain waves, relaxation and alertness for longer and deeper meditation sessions. I