Best Teas for Optimal Focus, Memory, and Cognitive Function

Even when we are sleeping or not consciously thinking, our brain is constantly processing information. For us to be able to concentrate, learn, and remember information, the engines of our brain must keep running. Many people rely on coffee or other caffeinated beverages to kickstart the engines of their brains every morning. However, if you are tired of the caffeine crashes that follow after drinking coffee/energy drinks and are looking for a natural way to boost your brain, drinking tea can be a great option!

Many herbal teas possess stimulating properties that help enhance cognitive function and improve focus. In addition to improving mental clarity and focus, herbal teas also aid in memory retention. As we age, our memory declines due to a myriad of changes in the human body. Fortunately, we can boost our memory function by drinking certain herbal teas. Discover the three best teas for optimal focus, memory, and overall cognitive function with our quick guide, which is backed by modern scientific research.

Ginkgo Biloba Tea

Image showing leaves of Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba – commonly known as maidenhair – is one of the most widely used herbs for focus and other cognitive functions. For centuries, it has been used in ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine as a supplement to improve memory and focus. In addition to staying alert and retaining information more effectively, consuming herbal tea made from this plant also helps avoid various cognitive impairments related to aging.  While you can take the extract of this herb in supplement form, research shows that it is more effective when consumed in tea form.

Studies suggest that this herb may be helpful for individuals with memory-related psychiatric disorders and cognitive impairments, such as dementia. In a study conducted on patients with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, chemical compounds in ginkgo demonstrated the ability to protect nerve cells and stabilize or slow the decline in cognitive functions in the participants. Another study proves that extract of this herb can moderately enhance various cognitive processes in elderly individuals with impaired working memory. 

Image showing a tea cup with autumn leaves.

Modern scientific research has also found that this herb may aid in boosting mental clarity and memory retention. Flavonoids and terpenoids, two compounds that improve focus and mental energy, are abundant in Ginkgo Biloba. A study – published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine – found that participants who consumed Ginkgo Biloba for fourteen days had improved scores on different working memory tests. 

Moreover, for centuries, this herb has also been used to alleviate symptoms of cognitive deficits, such as decreased alertness and memory performance. A 1998 review confirms the therapeutic effects of Ginkgo Biloba on cognition and reveals that its effectiveness is based on active compounds with antioxidant and vasoactive properties. 

Green Tea

Image showing green tea in traditional Japanese pottery.

People from all walks of life have been drinking green tea for centuries, making it one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. Made from the camellia Sinensis plant, this herbal tea is famous for the myriad of health benefits it provides, including improved focus, reduced anxiety, and enhanced mental acuity. If you wish to enjoy a boost in energy and focus in the morning without having to experience the crash-down symptoms of coffee later in the evening, green tea is your best option. 

Image showing green tea leaves in a straw basket.

Green tea can be a powerful study aid as it contains a potent combination of caffeine and l-theanine, both of which help boost the brainpower and induce a sense of calmness in the brain. In addition to providing an extended increase in energy, this combination also improves performance on tasks demanding unwavering attention and can reduce mental distractions for more than an hour. 

The caffeine content of green tea makes it a natural metabolism stimulant without the crash or jitters as L-theanine balances out the stimulant effects of caffeine. L-theanine, an amino acid, also improves mental clarity and time spent in deep sleep cycles. According to research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, l-theanine demonstrated the ability to boost cognitive impairment as participants who took this amino acid had increased brain theta waves – a key measure of cognitive performance and memory recall.

Green tea is also considered one of the healthiest teas on the planet due to its high content of a host of antioxidants, known as catechins and flavonoids. These antioxidants give green tea its unique flavor and offer extensive health benefits for cognitive function, including improved memory retention and learning. They also prevent oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which in turn boosts cognitive function. According to research published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, a study was conducted on twenty healthy women to examine the effects of green tea on working memory. It showed that participants who consumed green tea extract had drastically improved reading spans and memory recall in memory tests taken after a period of 24 hours. 

Gotu Kola

Image showing leaves of Gotu Kola.

Gotu Kola is a native Southern Asian herb widely popular in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine due to its therapeutic effects on cognitive function. For centuries, it has been used as herbal medicine to treat mental disorders and as a brain tonic for enhancing memory. In addition to helping with memory retention, Gotu Kola also increases energy and improves concentration and attention span, all of which work to boost your focus. 

Image showing tea leaves in a pot filled with water.

The main active compounds in Gotu Kola are triterpenoid saponins, which are responsible for the therapeutic effects of this herb. Modern medical research suggests that Gotu Kola can provide a natural way to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related decline in memory of elderly individuals. These memory-enhancing abilities are due to the herb’s anti-inflammatory properties, which help prevent cellular damage in the nervous system due to oxidative stress. 

By acting as an oxidant, Gotu Kola prevents cognitive decline and sharpens memory in people with cognitive impairments. In 2016, a study was conducted on forty-eight patients with post-stroke cognitive impairment to examine the impact of Gotu Kola extract on vascular cognitive performance. The study found that participants who had taken the Gotu Kola extract for six weeks had improved brain power and mental focus than the controls. 

Image showing a cup of tea surrounded by books and flowers.

If nerves keep you awake the night before an important meeting or exam, drink a cup of Gotu Kola tea to stay focused and alert throughout the day. Research suggests that this therapeutic herb can also help reduce anxiety on days when you got little to no sleep. Moreover, it can help alleviate symptoms of depression, such as stress and anxiousness. 

Here is a summary of the therapeutic benefits of the herbal teas mentioned in this article:

  • Ginkgo Biloba Tea: Aids in staying alert, boosting memory retention, and protecting nerve cells.
  • Green Tea: Enhances overall cognitive function and keeps the mind sharp and keen.
  • Gotu Kola: Helps prevent oxidative stress and slows down age-related decline in cognitive function. 

The Takeaway

Image showing water being poured into a cup full of tea leaves.

Whether you are pulling an all-nighter for an exam or feel mentally drained after a long, tiring day at work, a cup of tea is all you need to get mental acuity. If you want to cut down on your caffeine content but still need a stimulant to kickstart your day, the above-mentioned herbal teas can serve as healthy alternatives to coffee and other caffeinated beverages. Not only do they sharpen your focus but they also help keep your brain in tip-top shape even in old age by slowing down the natural decline of memory.