Green tea is enjoyed worldwide by those who enjoy its pleasant taste and hope to garner its many associated health benefits.
Perhaps surprisingly, when you choose to drink the beverage may affect your potential to reap these benefits, as well as the risk of certain negative side effects.
This article reviews the best and worst times of the day to drink green tea.
Benefits of drinking green tea at certain times
In some cases, timing can matter when it comes to reaping the benefits of green tea.
In the morning
Many choose to drink a soothing cup of green tea first thing in the morning to boost focus and concentration.
The drink’s mind-sharpening properties are partially due to the presence of caffeine, a stimulant shown to enhance attention and alertness.
However, unlike coffee and other caffeinated drinks, green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that exerts calming effects.
L-theanine and caffeine work together to improve brain function and mood — without causing the negative side effects that may accompany consuming caffeine on its own.
For this reason, enjoying this tea first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day off on the right foot.
Some research suggests that drinking green tea may be especially beneficial just before working out.
One study in 12 men found that consuming green tea extract before exercising increased fat burning by 17%, compared with a placebo.
Another study in 13 women showed that drinking 3 servings of green tea the day before working out and another serving 2 hours before increased fat burning during exercise.
What’s more, the tea may speed recovery after an intense workout, as one study in 20 men found that supplementing with 500 mg of green tea extract reduced markers of muscle damage caused by exercise.
Green tea contains caffeine and L-theanine, both of which can enhance alertness and attention, which is especially beneficial in the morning. Also, drinking this tea before exercise may increase fat burning and reduce muscle damage.
Less desirable times
Though green tea offers many health benefits, it may come with some downsides.
May impair nutrient absorption at mealtimes
Several compounds in green tea can bind to minerals in your body and block their absorption.
Particularly, tannins are compounds found in green tea that act as antinutrients and reduce iron absorption.
Furthermore, research shows that the epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) in green tea can bind to minerals like iron, copper, and chromium, preventing their absorption in your body.
Several studies have demonstrated that drinking this tea with meals can reduce iron absorption, which may lead to a deficiency over time.
Therefore, it’s best to drink green tea between meals if possible, especially if you are deficient in iron or other key minerals.
May disturb sleep in some people
One cup (237 ml) of green tea contains about 35 mg of caffeine.
While this is much less than the roughly 96 mg of caffeine provided by the same amount of coffee, it can still cause side effects in those who are sensitive to this stimulant.
Common side effects of caffeine consumption include anxiety, high blood pressure, fidgeting, and nervousness. Caffeine can also cause sleep disturbances — even when consumed up to 6 hours before bedtime.
Therefore, if you are sensitive to caffeine, consider avoiding drinking green tea for up to 6 hours before bed to prevent sleep problems.
Certain compounds in green tea may inhibit the absorption of iron and other minerals, so it’s best to drink it between meals. Plus, the caffeine content can cause sleep disturbances when consumed before bedtime.
The bottom line
The time of day you choose to drink your green tea comes down to personal preference.
While some people may enjoy drinking it at the beginning of the day or before working out to reap its health benefits, others might find that it fits better into their routine at other times.
Keep in mind that it contains caffeine, as well as certain compounds that can reduce the absorption of key minerals, so it may be best to avoid drinking it before bed or along with meals.