Anti-stress effects of drinking green tea with lowered caffeine and enriched theanine, epigallocatechin and arginine on psychosocial stress induced adrenal hypertrophy in mice

Phytomedicine. 2016 Nov 15;23(12):1365-1374. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2016.07.006. Epub 2016 Jul 25.


Background: Theanine, an amino acid in tea, has significant anti-stress effects on animals and humans. However, the anti-stress effects of drinking green tea have not yet been elucidated.

Hypothesis/purpose: The present study aimed to explore anti-stress effects of green tea and roles of tea components in a mouse model of psychosocial stress.

Study design: We examined anti-stress effects of three types of green teas, theanine-rich "Gyokuro", standard "Sencha", and Sencha with lowered caffeine (low-caffeine green tea). Furthermore, the roles of tea components such as caffeine, catechins, and other amino acids in anti-stress effects were examined.

Methods: To prepare low-caffeine green tea, plucked new tea leaves were treated with a hot-water spray. Mice were psychosocially stressed from a conflict among male mice under confrontational housing. Mice consumed each tea that was eluted with room temperature water ad libitum. As a marker for the stress response, adrenal hypertrophy was compared with mice that ingested water.

Results: Caffeine was significantly lowered by spraying hot-water on tea leaves. While epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the main catechin in tea leaves, epigallocatechin (EGC) was mainly infused into water at room temperature. Adrenal hypertrophy was significantly suppressed in mice that ingested theanine-rich and low-caffeine green tea that were eluted with water at room temperature. Caffeine and EGCG suppressed the anti-stress effects of theanine while EGC and arginine (Arg) retained these effects.

Conclusion: These results suggest that drinking green tea exhibits anti-stress effects, where theanine, EGC and Arg cooperatively abolish the counter-effect of caffeine and EGCG on psychosocial stress induced adrenal hypertrophy in mice.

Keywords: Anti-stress effect; Arginine; Caffeine; Epigallocatechin; Green tea; Theanine.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / drug effects
  • Adrenal Glands / pathology
  • Animals
  • Arginine / pharmacology*
  • Caffeine / adverse effects*
  • Caffeine / pharmacology
  • Camellia sinensis / chemistry*
  • Catechin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Catechin / pharmacology
  • Drug Interactions
  • Glutamates / pharmacology
  • Glutamates / therapeutic use*
  • Hypertrophy
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Stress, Psychological / drug therapy*
  • Stress, Psychological / pathology
  • Tea / chemistry*
  • Temperature
  • Water


  • Glutamates
  • Plant Extracts
  • Tea
  • Water
  • Caffeine
  • theanine
  • Catechin
  • Arginine
  • epigallocatechin gallate
  • gallocatechol