Most of us love a good cup of tea to chill out with... Although there's really only one tea that can properly relax you and help with symptoms of anxiety - but which one?
There are plenty of tasty "teas" to choose from in the shops nowadays but did you know that many of the drinks which are called "Tea" are not actually tea?
The different types of Tea
Herbal Teas are not really teas but "Tisanes" - a french word meaning infusions of herbs, spices, dried flowers and fruits made by pouring over hot water. They are usually caffeine free and contain beneficial antioxidants and phytonutrients. Pretty much any plant can be used for a herbal tea other than the Tea plant.
Red Bush Tea or Rooibos is from South Africa and also isn't really tea. It is caffeine free, low in tannin and also packed full of health giving antioxidants and phytonutrients – and makes a refreshing cuppa!
Black Tea, Green Tea and White Tea are the only real teas and are all made from the leaves of the same evergreen tea bush. Black teas are often blended to make the traditional British cup of tea. Research shows that the powerful phytonutrients exclusive to the Tea plant may help to protect against some cancers and have many other health benefits. Black Tea, Green Tea and White Tea all contain Caffiene and are the only teas that contain the amino acid called L-Theanine.
The relaxing benefits of Tea
L-Theanine increases our alpha brain wave activity which promotes relaxation. This increased alpha activity in the brain induced by L-Theanine has been associated with increased creativity, increased performance under stress and improved learning and concentration as well as decreased anxiety.
Monks have been drinking tea for thousands of years to maintain a state of “mindful alertness” during periods of meditation. Over the last few years studies have shed light on why tea has this effect on the mind: It is the combination of L-Theanine and Caffiene that makes tea unique from any other drink. The L-Theanine together with the stimulant Caffeine, allows tea to induce a feeling of increased concentration over a longer period of time, compared to Caffeine taken alone (such as in coffee or fizzy drinks).
Science proves Tea is good for you
Researchers at the University of Bristol experimented to find out how much L-Theanine you’d find in a cup of normally brewed commercial brand tea. They found that longer brewing times led to higher quantities of L-Theanine, but on average:-
- A typical 200 ml cup of brewed Black Tea contained approximately 24.2 mg of L-Theanine
- A typical cup of brewed Green Tea contained approximately 7.9 mg of L-Theanine
L-Theanine supplements are typically sold as 200 mg doses, so if you drink 8 cups of Black Tea per day – or many more cups of Green Tea – you'll get the same quantity of the amino acid as you’d get by taking a supplement!
Drinking real tea throughout the day can:-
- Increase our ability to multi-task (and multi-task well!)
- Increase speed of perception
- Increase performance under stress
- Improve learning ability and concentration
- Decrease anxiety
- Reduce task-induced fatigue
- Promote a mindful state of relaxation
It's no wonder we say "Have a cup of tea and carry on!"
Watch what you put in your Tea!
Be careful loading up your cuppa with sugar or sweeteners, as these can wipe out the amazing health benefits of your tea. If you've got a sweet tooth, the best natural sweeteners are black strap molasses and date sugar, although honey, maple syrup and agave syrup are also pretty good.
A splash of cow's milk in your tea will negate the beneficial effects of your tea on your vascular system so perhaps have a go at drinking your tea black or try out a dairy alternative like Soya milk, Oat milk or Almond milk to get the best out of your cuppa.
It's easy to see why Tea has been rated the second healthiest drink in the world, with water being the first.
So put the kettle on, sit down and enjoy a nice cup of tea.