An Ayurvedic Approach to Green Tea

Green tea offers seemingly countless benefits: lowered cancer risk, arthritis relief, fat loss, and improved cognitive function among them.

However, most green teas contain caffeine. There’s debate among specialists about the role of caffeine in an Ayurvedic diet, and many will tell you that caffeine is rajasic, a quality that, when amplified, increases restlessness and greed and amplifies doshic imbalances, whether they stem from VataPitta, or Kapha energies.

Still, it’s difficult to cut out caffeine, and green tea can be a good substitute for coffee (although coffee has its benefits, too). Depending on the individual, green tea’s stellar antioxidant profile and proven benefits may outweigh its rajasic side effects.

When choosing a green tea, it can be helpful to keep your dosha in mind: Kaphas can better tolerate varieties with more caffeine, and in some cases, caffeine can balance out Kaphic lethargy. Vata and Pitta types may want to choose a decaffeinated version, but keep in mind that lower levels of caffeine often mean lower levels of antioxidants.

For all you green tea lovers, the good news is that many herbs can help counteract the over-stimulating effects of tea, and many of these combinations are sold in stores. If you’d like to reap the benefits of green tea without letting its caffeine content wreak havoc on your doshic balance, try these green tea varieties that either counter the rajasic influence of caffeine or have other Ayurvedic or health benefits:

Jasmine Green Tea: Studies indicate that the scent of jasmine has a sedating effect on the nervous system, countering some of the stimulation of caffeine, so be sure to sniff while you sip.

Moroccan Mint Green Tea: The spearmint in these tea blends soothes digestive issues and nausea, especially pertinent to Vata and Pitta types. Spearmint is also a member of the bitter herb family, and bitter tastes are balancing for Kapha types. Mint can also mitigate headaches, a common side effect of caffeine consumption.

Bancha Tea: Although it lacks the prestige of its brother tea gyokuro, bancha is cheaper and has more catechins, important antioxidants. It’s highly astringent, great for Kaphas, and contains relatively low caffeine levels.

Ginger Green TeaGinger bolsters the immune system and reduces inflammation, which can be caused by elevated stress hormones (a side effect of caffeine consumption).

Cinnamon Green TeaCinnamon is another addition that fights inflammation, and its natural sweetness is thought to ground airy Vatas and quick-moving Pittas, who are most at risk of being carried away by a caffeine high.

Genmaicha Tea: This green tea contains roasted brown rice kernels, a sattvic food that leaves you serene and energized. The warm, nutty flavor mellows Vata and Pitta types.

Matcha Tea: This popular powdered green tea contains concentrated levels of L-thianine, known to calm anxiety, and it’s full of chlorophyll, which has detoxifying properties.

Kukicha Tea: This blend is naturally low in caffeine and high in minerals like calcium because it utilizes the whole Camellia sinensis plant, including stems and twigs.

For all dosha types, caffeine increases the levels of stress hormones in the body, so keep an eye on how you’re feeling after your morning cup. The best time to get your green tea fix is between 6 and 10 a.m., the first of two periods during the day when Kapha energy is at its peak. Steep your tea for less than the directed time to lower the caffeine content.