What’s the fuss about tea?
Growing up in Britain meant drinking tea from the days of sippy cups, when it was served warm, milky, and sweet. The phrase “there’s nothing a good cup of tea won’t solve” frequently popped up in conversation. Family drama? Put the kettle on. Stomach ache? Put the kettle on. Can’t sleep? Put the kettle on. Offering a steaming cup of tea is a way of saying “I care;” a way to improve times of turmoil. It can encourage conversation and makes us feel good. It’s used for everything from a hangover cure to burning fat to common cold reduction.
The benefits of tea to our mental and physical health are well documented and go back thousands of years. According to legend, in 2737 BC Chinese emperor Shennong first discovered its effects when a dried leaf fell into his hot water, infusing the brew with a warm, inviting sensation. Since then, tea has had a rich, rocky, and fascinating history with its recipes and methods constantly evolving along the way.
Tea is derived from a plant called Camellia sinensis, native to East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, and Southeast Asia. White tea, yellow tea, green tea, oolong, pu-erh tea, and black tea are all harvested from it, but are processed in different ways. Each contain antioxidants, trace minerals, and vitamins, which positively impact our bodies and minds. Studies have found that some components found in different teas may help with heart disease, diabetes, cholesterol levels, mental alertness, and anxiety. Other herbal teas are infusions of different plants, but often still have a lot of benefits.
With incredible, natural healing components, tea has somewhat comforting powers. There are a ton of stress-reducing, harmonizing, and mood-boosting teas including liquorice root, cinnamon, rose, passionflower, lavender, nettle leaf, dandelion, ginger, mint, and pear. If you have your own infuser, making tea isn’t too much trouble. Here are some different teas to suit each occasion when you may be feeling a little less than happy.
Lemon tea is a detoxifying energiser. It’s abundant in vitamin C and a great remedy for headaches, weakness, low vitality, lethargy, and fatigue. Drinking hot water with lemon cleanses the liver and flushes out waste and toxins, as well as helping with digestion. The fresh citrus scent and oils provide a sense of calmness and can lower blood pressure when under stress. Slicing a lemon and dropping it into hot water, or combining it with a black or green tea, are both extremely beneficial ways to drink the infusion, for the tastebuds, body, and mind.
Chai is a spicy, comforting drink made from some of the world’s most medicinally active spices and herbs. There are many Indian chai recipes—but the staples of chai include black tea, cinnamon, ginger, clove, cardamom, and black pepper. Chai has roots in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems, developed in India and based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. The synergy of valuable elements creates an aromatic tea with many health benefits, from mood stabilizing to immunity boosting to promoting cardiovascular health.
Lavender, the fragrant, evergreen mint shrub native to the mountainous regions of the Mediterranean, is known for its sharp scent, bright purple flowers, and ability to encourage restful sleep. The herb can enhance feelings of tranquillity as well as elevating mood. The soothing aroma of lavender slows down nervous system activity, promoting relaxation. It is also shown to help digestive issue relief, including nervous stomach and indigestion.
Green tea is a great remedy for a morning or midday sluggish feeling. Sipping on the tea can elevate mood, cognition, and mental performance. Ultimately, it boosts your energy levels without leaving a jittery feeling. Green tea is also a natural diuretic and is high in antioxidants. The Camellia sinensis leaves are unfermented, and the polyphenols in green tea can influence the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, responsible for creating a “happy” state in the brain.
Yerba mate is a traditional drink made from the dried leaves of an evergreen holly, Ilex paraguariensis, a native plant of South America. Drank mainly in Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and some parts of Brazil, the tea increases energy and enhances mental clarity, alertness, focus, and concentration. Yerba mate is a nutritional powerhouse loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and can also serve as a general nerve restorative for pain, fatigue, depression, allergies, and sinusitis. It’s also great for the digestive system after a heavy meal.
Chamomile tea, referred to as manzanilla or “little apple” in Spanish due to its apple-like scent, is a herbal remedy from the daisy family which can relieve depression, anxiety, and panic, while promoting healthy sleep. As a soothing tea, chamomile can also help alleviate pains such as stomach aches and headaches.
Tea isn’t just a comforting and pleasant beverage, it also has remarkable healing properties, and there are tonnes of teas to choose from. Next time you feel like turning to coffee, try a tea instead and see if maximizes body or mind.