Chayoi (茶酔い) is the Japanese term for tea drunk.
Many people think that getting drunk from drinking tea is impossible.
But I can tell you that it is real.
The first time I heard about this, and later experienced it, was many years ago when I was in Japan and was new to the world of tea.
Two Japanese friends invited me to a tea house in Tokyo, so we went there together.
I don’t remember what tea house it was, but I do remember that we tried different types of tea, including Chinese ones. We also drank quite a lot of it.
At the end we felt tea drunk, sort of like the pleasant mood after a drink or two of an alcoholic drink.
It’s a feeling of being relaxed and having fun, with more laughter than normal.
I think that I haven’t experienced that again. Maybe I don’t notice it, or I’ve become more resistant to tea after drinking it daily for so long.
From what I’ve read online, the symptoms include a slight warmness in the body, some sweating, relaxation, heart thumping, sleepiness, and the list go on.
I believe that as with alcohol, the effect of tea isn’t exactly the same in each person.
When getting tea drunk isn’t so pleasant
In more extreme cases, being tea drunk is not a good experience: headache, nausea and dizziness might occur.
This often happens when drinking too much tea on an empty stomach, and also from excessive quantity and concentration in a short period of time.
I also have a story to share with you about the more intense version of tea drunkenness.
It was at the World Tea Expo 2015. I had drank so much matcha and other types of tea that I really did felt dizzy.
Perhaps it was too much caffeine in one day? But after having some food I recovered.
This type of tea drunkenness hasn’t happened again in all these years.
I routinely drink a lot of tea, especially at night, and have had no problems.
I sleep well even after many rounds of tea.
What causes people to get tea drunk?
I haven’t found a scientific study about it, but the most important thing to know is that tea has compounds that affect our mood.
I guess the main ones would be caffeine and L-theanine.
A lot of us are familiar with the effects of drinking too much coffee. But interestingly there isn’t a word for it than has to do with being drunk.
Since L-theanine also plays a part, and perhaps even catechins, the effect of tea is much different than with coffee.
The type of tea also matters.
With high grade Japanese teas, you have plenty of caffeine and L-theanine. It’s much easier to get tea drunk while drinking gyokuro and matcha, as opposed to bancha.
Many tea drinkers say that Chinese fermented teas are very effective in inducing tea drunkenness.
But since I don’t drink those types of teas so often, I haven’t experienced it.
May 13, 2018
Interesting. This is the first time I have heard of this.
I went to visit a supplier last Friday and drank some gyokuro and matcha. I felt happy on the way home, but I think the reason is because the meeting went well 😉
May 14, 2018
Hi Andrew, thank you for your comment.
Glad to hear that you your meeting went well 🙂
June 10, 2020
Thank you for this!
I’ve been tea-drunk before, and it’s a wonderful experience. The Chinese call it “cha-zui;” since I drink a lot of China tea and am familiar with much of the lore surrounding it I knew what was happening the first time it hit me. Unfortunately it happens all too rarely.
Early European accounts of tea drinking sessions sometimes make a note of its euphoric effects, which were probably more common in the seventeenth century when it was a luxury, and therefore indulged in less often, than in the eighteenth and later centuries by which time it had become a virtual necessity of civilized life.
June 10, 2020
Thank you for the historical information. Very interesting.