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What really is caffeine?

Perhaps your cup of tea is the only thing that helps cut through the morning fuzz, or what wakes you up no matter how many times you snooze your alarm. Alertness and mental acuity are often most thought about when we consider caffeine and about 90% of Western adults consume a caffeinated beverage everyday. But how much do we actually know about caffeine?

Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in the nuts, seeds and leaves of plants such as tea, coffee and cocao. It was later introduced into soft drinks through chemical addition in the 1800s, which is different from caffeine found naturally in these plants. Caffeine works by blocking the chemicals that relax the brain making you feel drowsy. Meaning your brain stays alert and functioning as opposed to relaxed and tired. Caffeine works quickly and though boosting the brain function it also encourages active metabolism meaning your body functions faster which is why you get a physical energy boost as well as a mental one. Caffeine has also been shown to enhance mood as a natural anti-depressant.

Interestingly tea contains only a small degree of natural caffeine compared to coffee, it is actually the L-theanine antioxidant compound found in tea leaves that has the ability to boost natural caffeine’s effect. This allows smaller amounts of natural caffeine to have more vigor in energizing, boosting concentration and improving metabolism. Therefore you get all the benefits of natural caffeine but through smaller quantities meaning you can enjoy more tea!