When to Drink Green Tea: Best Times for Maximum Benefits

Tea Facts /

I used to drink tea all day every day. But I soon learned there are ties when it felt better, and there were times it provided me with greater health benefits. Many of which I wasn’t aware of when drinking it, but you still gain the effects. So when to drink green tea is the question.

I’ve explored and experimented with this, and here’s what I’ve learned.

Drink green tea around 10:00 to 11:00 am, or in the evening between 7:00 and 8:00 pm for maximum nutrition and health benefits. Aim to drink between meals, and avoid before, during, and just after meals. An hour or so before exercise can be beneficial. Drink decaf green tea around 2 hours before sleep.

Drinking green tea has lots of benefits. I won’t go into all those in-depth, but here’s a quick rundown on what benefits you can get from tea.

If these are the benefits, then the question is: when to drink green tea to gain the maximum benefits possible.

Benefits of drinking green tea

  • Contains bioactive compounds like polyphenols
  • May improve brain function and working memory from caffeine
  • Boosts metabolic rate to aid weight loss
  • Contains anti-inflammatory properties
  • Increases fat burning by burning more calories
  • Increases performance by releasing fatty acids to burn
  • Antioxidants may lower the risk of some known cancers
  • Can help to reduce bloating
  • Can protect the brain from signs of aging
  • Could help to prevent type 2 diabetes
  • May reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Could reduce bad breath
  • Improving overall health, helping you to live longer

And there’s probably even some that I’ve missed – but you get the idea.

The challenge comes in using green tea to gain the benefits at the right time. This doesn’t mean you won’t gain the benefits, but I guess you could call these “marginal gains”, to maximize the benefits.

So, when should you drink green tea? Let’s get into the detail… 

When to drink green tea for maximum benefits

Here are all the times during the day, and the occasions when you should drink green tea to max out the benefits, and why…

Drink green tea in between meals

The optimum time to drink green tea is in between meals. This invokes almost all the benefits except some for exercising, which I’ll come on to shortly.

You should allow an hour after eating a meal, and an hour before the next one. So your meal plan for the day and when to drink green tea might look something like this…

Timeline showing when to take green tea in between meals
when to take green tea in between meals

When to gain increased concentration

Looking to get greater focus in the earlier part of the day? Then most of us know that caffeine helps to achieve this.

But whereas you can drink coffee first thing in the morning for its caffeine effects, it’s not advisable to drink green tea for the same reason, there is a range of other teas that can boost your energy in the morning.

But, there are other ingredients in green tea that aid brain function through mid to late morning. This is when green tea will benefit you most in this regard.

The amino acid of L-Theanine in green tea is known to boost energy levels. This promotes focussed concentration. Here’s a simple visual chart showing when to take green tea to gain this benefit at the best times.

Increased fat burning and weight loss

Because green tea can increase energy levels, it’s also able to burn fat more readily as it can increase metabolic rate. Studies show that caffeine can increase performance by some 11.2%.

But it’s not just from caffeine alone – Catechins in tea, along with caffeine, are a good fat-burning combination. Catechins have been reported to improve performance by 

But don’t rely on green tea as a weight-loss cure, you should combine it with regular exercise at optimum times to benefit the most.

Drink green tea an hour or so before exercise, combined with drinking in between mealtimes and it will aid you in increased performance during your exercise routine. 

Timeline showing when to take green tea before exercise
when to take green tea before exercise

For weight loss, in particular, there are a few teas you might want to explore that can offer major benefits to weight loss, here are the details…

Blue tea

Catherine tea

Senna tea

Drinking the right green tea before bed can help

Generally, drinking tea at night, and before going to sleep is considered not to be the best choice, primarily because of the caffeine content. This is true of any tea derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant.

Especially when there are herbal teas that can provide greater benefits for sleep, such as Chamomile, Lemon Zinger tea, and especially Valerian tea.

… But Michael, I just love green tea so much!

Ok then, if it has to be green tea, then some studies reported that drinking green tea can be beneficial for sleep, providing you follow a couple of simple rules.

Of all teas, green tea has the greatest content of L-Theanine, is a component mainly found in green and black teas, and is known to:

  • Ease anxiety
  • Decrease stress
  • Reduce insomnia

All good components to promote quality sleep.

The downside comes with the addition of caffeine, mainly found in green tea and black teas. The caffeine does not cancel out the L-Theanine – but it does reduce its effectiveness. For some people, this can be enough to keep them awake.

How to prepare green tea before bed

To take full advantage of the sleep benefits of tea and its L-Theanine. There are two simple rules to follow.

  1. Opt for low caffeine green tea – lower caffeine enables the L-Theanine to provide greater benefits. There is no such thing as zero caffeine green tea, but lower caffeine helps.
  2. Steep at a lower temperature – caffeine is “activated” at a higher temperature, L-Theanine at a lower temperature. Steeping at room temperature facilitates the release of L-Theanine and decreases caffeine release.

Follow the simple rules and enjoy green tea before bed!

So now you should have a good understanding of when to drink green tea to gain the best health and performance benefits.

Timneline showing when to take green tea before bedtime
when to take green tea before bedtime

Now let’s take a quick look at when you should avoid drinking green tea.

When not to drink green tea

Here are the occasions I would recommend you avoid taking green tea.

Avoid drinking green tea on an empty stomach

Drinking green tea is best after a meal, preferably an hour or so after. Drinking green tea on an empty stomach can lead to nausea and a feeling of sickness for some. This can be the same at any time of day drinking green tea.

Avoid green tea first thing in the morning

Many of us enjoy a caffeine hit first thing in the morning. There are lots of tea options that are good alternatives for your morning boost. Check out my article for the very best morning teas.

For much the same reason as drinking tea on an empty stomach, it can cause nausea and a sickly feeling for many people. Plus green tea is high in catechins which can affect the liver.

Do not drink green tea with your meal

Fair to say that much of the Chinese tea culture involves taking green tea with food. This can work for many people, particularly if you’ve done it all your life.

The science though, indicates that compounds found in green tea can bind with iron and other minerals to prevent fully benefitting from the nutrients in your meal.

You will benefit fully from green tea if you take it at least 30 to 45 minutes after finishing each meal. Before meals, look to drink green tea two hours before to allow time for the benefits of the green tea to take effect.

Avoid water with green tea

Often coffee drinkers will drink water to help amplify the effects. However, this isn’t the case with green tea.

You’re unlikely to see additional benefits by taking water alongside green tea. Drinking water with green tea serves to amplify the acidity in the tea. This may lead to reflux or gas build-up in the stomach. Take green tea on its own, drink water with your meal, or at other times.

For those of you feeling the effects of bloating, or looking to combat bloating, then you need to look at my list of the best teas to combat bloating. Or for specifically about green tea, check more details about green tea for bloating.

Avoid certain green teas before bed 

I touched on this a little earlier…

Green tea before bed can promote rest and sleep. But if you’re sensitive to caffeine then taking caffeinated green tea within 2 hours of sleep may not be the best option. Ensure you use decaffeinated green tea and prepare at room temperature to combat this.

You can read more about caffeine in green tea and its effects here.

More tea help

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