Theophylline in Tea: Causes of “Tea Drunk”

Do you ever feel dizzy, nauseated, or light-headed after drinking tea? If so, you may have experienced what is known as “tea drunk.” While caffeine is often blamed for this sensation, another compound found in tea, theophylline, also plays a significant role. In this article, we will explore the differences between “tea drunk” and “tea high,” the causes of “tea drunk,” and ways to alleviate its effects.

Tea Drunk vs. Tea High

Before delving into the specifics of “tea drunk,” it is important to understand the distinction between “tea drunk” and “tea high.” “Tea high” refers to a state of alertness, creativity, and bliss that is sometimes described as peaceful, relaxed, or euphoric. This sensation is often attributed to the combination of caffeine and L-theanine, an amino acid, which can enhance mental clarity and focus. In contrast, “tea drunk” is characterized by unpleasant sensations, such as dizziness, nausea, racing heartbeat, and upset stomach.

Causes of “Tea Drunk”

While caffeine is often cited as the culprit for “tea drunk,” theophylline, one of three alkaloids found in tea, also plays a significant role. Theophylline can affect the body in several ways, including relaxing bronchial muscles, increasing heart muscle contraction, and causing central nervous system excitation, leading to headaches, insomnia, irritability, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Furthermore, theophylline’s side effects can include stomach pains and vomiting. Despite its potency, the amount of theophylline in tea is relatively small compared to caffeine, ranging from 0.002% to 0.04% depending on the study.

Solutions for “Tea Drunk”

If you experience “tea drunk,” there are several solutions to alleviate its effects. First, consume food quickly, especially those high in sugar or fat, to neutralize its impact. Secondly, consider making adjustments to your tea brewing process. If you are new to tea drinking or have a sensitivity to stimulants like caffeine and theophylline, brew a “lighter” tea, using less tea leaves or water at a lower temperature, to help your body get acclimated to the tea. Finally, avoid drinking tea on an empty stomach if you experience stomach discomfort.


While tea offers numerous health benefits and flavors, it is essential to understand the potential effects of its chemical components, including caffeine and theophylline. “Tea drunk” is an unpleasant sensation that can result from theophylline, a compound found in tea. By learning the differences between “tea drunk” and “tea high” and taking steps to mitigate the effects of “tea drunk,” you can continue to enjoy the many benefits of tea without the unpleasant side effects.

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