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My personal adventure with GABA Oolong Tea

I’ve stepped into a whole new world of tea, thanks to BotanicWise Community member Kate Lancour. She and I connected during class and decided to have a private Zoom meet-up so we could share ideas for how we do our brain self-care.

I was a little down that day, and she mentioned a special tea that changed her life following a head injury: GABA Oolong. Even though I’m well-versed in herbal teas, I had never heard of this. Kate referred me to Floating Leaves Tea and owners Shiuwen and Noah.

Without hesitation, I ordered an ounce of GABA Oolong, grown “more than organically” in Tawain. When it arrived, I was struck by a handwritten personal note from Shiuwen – a heartfelt thank you in a flourished hand. I unwrapped the vacuum-sealed gold foil packet and shook the tea into my palm. The dried tea leaves were dark brown and tightly rolled into little balls, like miniature hedgehogs. I tossed some into my quart jar full of skullcap and milky oats, already steeping on the counter.

After leaving it to steep for twenty minutes, I decanted it and took a sip.

I awaited magic. Nothing.

I stirred the quart jar and decanted again.



I frowned. I’m doing this wrong. A few days later, at the Community Meet Up, I nudged Kate. “How do you make this stuff?”

She held up a miniature teapot, earth brown, the cutest thing I ever saw. “This pot is only used for my GAGA Oolong,” she explained. My eyes grew wide. Suddenly I realized I know nothing about making tea.

I rinsed the tea before pouring not-quite-boiling water over it. I watched as the balled-up leaves unfurled like magic. I selected a special cup with a rose painted on the side and poured the tea. No milk. No sugar.

I returned to the Floating Leaves Tea website and dug into their podcast. I could listen all day to Shiuwen and Noah chat about tea and the farmers they work with in Taiwan. I made my first pot – actually still just a jar, but a smaller one – just how Kate instructed me.

I took a sip.

Immediately I recognized this as a sacred moment. A moment of complete self-care… my heart filled with gratitude for the gift of life.

I needed to sit down. Outside. Cradling my cup, I stepped outdoors and found a sheltered spot in the garden, secret, safe, and connected to my tea. Each sip was a moment for me – a moment to taste, to smell, to see the beauty… of the tea, of the garden, of me.

All Oolong teas, and Camellia sinensis leaves, naturally contain gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABA, a neurotransmitter also found in the human brain. GABA teas are fermented in anaerobic conditions to create a higher concentration of GABA in the leaves.

In humans, GABA calms the nervous system and reduces stress, anxiety, insomnia, and rapid heart rate. GABA is a large enough molecule that researchers question its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier directly, but we now know that microbes in the gut, called “psychobiotics” – don’t you just love that name? – can metabolize GABA and communicate its benefits through the gut-brain axis. Wow!

What else does GABA do?

  • Depression & Anxiety: Increasing GABA levels can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. When GABA is too low, things like IBS, sugar cravings, memory problems, and other related conditions get worse.
  • Insomnia: GABA acts as an inhibitor on nerve activity. GABA tea (especially when paired with L-theanine) helps encourage deeper, longer, better quality sleep.
  • High Blood Pressure: The levels of theanine present in GABA tea can help support the balancing of blood pressure and the heart and circulatory system.
  • And More: Studies have shown GABA can boost mental concentration, physical performance, muscle building, and fat burning. It also has shown promise in reducing pain sensitivity in conditions like epilepsy, diabetes, and Parkinson’s.

How to make GABA Oolong Tea:

Disclaimer: I’m a beginner GABA tea-maker. Stay tuned for more details.

1. Measure 1-2 tsp of GABA tea. More experienced tea-makers weigh 2-3 grams of dried Oolong leaves. Put in a teapot.

2. Heat water to 180 to 200 degrees F.

3. Rinse the tea by pouring hot water over the leaves, then immediately pouring off the liquid

4. Add 6oz of hot water for steeping

5. Steep 3-5 minutes.

6. Pour and enjoy!

7. Reserve the leaves to steep again 3-5 times.

To learn more about optimizing your brain function, register for our upcoming webinar with Guido Masé on October 25, Step Out of Brain Fog. Get registered!

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