Tea is a powerful plant that supports our wellbeing, when it is used mindfully and with respect. Throughout recorded history and across civilisations, tea still plays an important role in diverse communities and cultures.
The many methods of processing tea have created a variety of types, with their own colours and flavours. White tea has almost no flavour but contains high levels of antioxidants, while black tea is rich, dark, and full of caffeine.
Green tea typically has more balanced levels of caffeine and antioxidants and matcha is increasingly being used as a substitute for energy drinks. An amino acid found naturally in both of these, called theanine, is said to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Oolong tea is another variation of the tea plant that has a very high level of another amino acid, believed to inhibit anxiety and relax the brain’s neurotransmitters.
Herbal teas, better called infusions, are an excellent way to share the benefits of a wider assortment of plants and herbs. Drinking chamomile, lavender, and jasmine can increase relaxation and comfort while also encouraging emotional health and restful sleeping patterns.
A popular spice infusion can be made from turmeric, which is rich in an anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. A 2017 study found that curcumin may possess anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects, when taken on a regular basis.
Drinking tea or a herbal infusion as part of your day does not have to be elaborate or difficult. It can simply become part of your routine, especially when it is performed with awareness and intention.
For example, somebody with difficulty sleeping may set the intention to end their day by drinking a warm cup of chamomile before bed. An iced cup of matcha in the morning creates the intention of starting every new day with clarity and focus.
Many of us agree that sipping a cup of tea in the afternoon or towards the end of the day can be a relaxing ritual. It creates a moment for ourselves, the kind of self-care that supports our need to re-ground and re-connect. The calming effects of certain plants, like St John’s Wort, have also been noted for promoting greater mental health.
For help in lifting energy levels and promoting a sense of calm, there are other practices to try alongside teas and infusions. Create a sleep schedule and hold yourself accountable to switch off electronic devices an hour or two before bed. Cut back on your sugar intake, and add some time for short walks and other simple exercises during the day.
Although spices, herbs and other plants are natural products, it is best to always check with a health provider before drinking herbal teas or taking herbal supplements.
Pete Farrugia is a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist. In his profession he explores the intersection of psychosocial wellbeing, spiritual development, and creative expression.