Summary (TL;DR): In the interest of brevity, I abbreviate 'herbal tea' as tisane.
Is there any evidence that tisanes can energize? If so, which ones?
Please exclude teas with caffeine (eg black and green teas) or artifices (eg pepper, sugar).

Google offered the following links, which assert that these tisanes will energize, but without proof. I merely list them as examples; please criticise them and/or recommend other tisanes:

  • 2
    Have you considered looking into why you need something to energize you? If you are looking to avoid caffeine addiction how would that be any different then energy drink addiction?
    – Joe W
    Apr 12, 2015 at 16:38
  • @JoeW I agree that energy drink addiction harms. Personally, I was asking the above for sufferers of Seasonal affective disorder who'd benefit from a sap of energy during rainy, grey days. Does this help?
    – user14
    Apr 12, 2015 at 16:43
  • 4
    Overall I find the question confusing, there is no real reason listed as why to avoid caffeine and it sounds like you are asking for personal reasons not as a general question to help others.
    – Joe W
    Apr 12, 2015 at 16:52

2 Answers 2


The most clearly effective stimulating (energizing) herbs have run into legal restrictions, at least in the United States. The most notorious is the leaf of the E. coca tree, which contains cocaine. Another stimulating herb more recently banned is Catha edulis (Khat) which contains cathinone. The chemically similar stimulant ephedrine is the active constituent of Ephedra sinica (Mormon Tea), which has had sales restricted in recent years. Ephedra is used instead of black tea (Camellia sinensis) by Mormons because of their restriction against consuming caffeine. Psychedelics like mecsaline found in the common San Pedro cactus (Trichocereus pachanoi), or ibogaine in Tabernanthe iboga, tend to be stimulating at doses below the psychedelic dose but are technically illegal to make tea from.

Stimulating herbs which have been legally ignored tend to have unwanted side effects, at least in comparison with caffeine. The bark of Pausinystalia yohimbe contains the adrenergic stimulant yohimbine, commonly marketed as a sex enhancer. Herbs like Nux vomica, which contains the convulsive stimulant strychnine, is certainly available, especially as rat poison. Species containing ketones like camphor (Cinnamomum camphora) and thujone (Artemisia absinthium - the key ingredient wormwood used in absinthe) are said to be toxic but stimulating.

Many other herbs have been promoted as stimulating, sedating, etc., without there being clear proof that they are more than placebos. I believe I have tried all the herbs in your list of suggestions but didn't notice any stimulating or other effects from them. Ginseng is commonly claimed to be stimulating but I haven't noticed any effect.

  • 2
    Another fine example which is used extensively in some of African / middle east countries is the 'Khat' which has legal controversy's in different countries around the world. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khat
    – Idan
    Oct 6, 2015 at 16:30
  • 1
    Khat is the common name for Catha edulis, described above. Oct 6, 2015 at 16:32
  • Sorry, yet good to know
    – Idan
    Oct 6, 2015 at 16:34
  • I agree, I should have mentioned the common name. Let me see if I can edit from this phone app... Oct 6, 2015 at 16:40
  • 2
    This is a good answer, but is in need of sources.
    – Dave Liu
    Feb 6, 2016 at 23:01

According to this paper by Moss et al. (2016) 1 peppermint tea has energizing properties. The molecular mechanism by which this effect is exerted is summarized in its discussion part:

Active compounds identified in Peppermint include menthol, menthone, 1,8 – cineole and rosmarinic acid, the latter two of which have been shown to possess cholinergic agonist properties via the inhibition of acetylcholine esterase activity (Perryet al., 2003; Orhan et al., 2008). Such a mechanism could underpin the cognitive effects observed here and elsewhere as acetylcholine is the fundamental memory neurotransmitter, whilst the dopaminergic influence of menthol and menthone might be independently reflected in the subjective ratings of alertness.

Another paper by Kennedy et al. (2011) 2 suggests the same for Salvia officinalis, commonly known as sage. They state that:

The current study combined an in vitro investigation of the cholinesterase inhibitory properties and phytochemical constituents of a S. lavandulaefolia essential oil, with a double-blind, placebo-controlled, balanced crossover study assessing the effects of a single dose on cognitive performance and mood. In this latter investigation 36 healthy participants received capsules containing either 50mL of the essential oil or placebo on separate occasions, 7 days apart. Cognitive function was assessed using a selection of computerized memory and attention tasks and the Cognitive Demand Battery before the treatment and 1-h and 4-h post-dose. The essential oil was a potent inhibitor of human acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and consisted almost exclusively of monoterpenoids. Oral consumption lead to improved performance of secondary memory and attention tasks, most notably at the 1-h post-dose testing session, and reduced mental fatigue and increased alertness which were more pronounced 4-h post-dose. These results extend previous observations of improved cognitive performance and mood following AChE inhibitory sage extracts and suggest that the ability of well-tolerated terpenoid-containing extracts to beneficially modulate cholinergic function and cognitive performance deserves further attention