Drinking tea not only quenches thirst. It can relax or invigorate you, help reduce anxiety and improve your overall wellness. Tea has played a significant role in ancient cultures for its health benefits and cultural relevance for centuries. In modern times, more and more research suggests that tea is invaluable as a supplement for mental and physical health problems.
In this article, we explore the many mental health benefits of drinking loose-leaf tea. We also provide tips and tricks to pick the best teas for relieving anxiety and improving memory, concentration, and focus. Finally, we'll tell you how to brew the perfect cup of tea so that you can get the most out of your brew.
The Mental Health Benefits of Drinking Loose-Leaf Tea
What makes loose-leaf tea so special? Science has confirmed that drinking loose-leaf tea from the Camellia Sinensis plant can improve cognitive function and relieve stress. These teas include green and black tea and pu-erh, white and oolong teas. Researchers conducting a recent study revealed that tea-drinkers brain health was better than non-tea drinkers. Another study showed that tea reduces anxiety.
But it's not only caffeinated teas from the Camellia Sinensis plant that are good for our cognitive function. Extensive research has revealed that herbal teas contain flavonoids and other polyphenols that improve sleep quality, hormonal balance, and other aspects that contribute to mental well-being.
Let's explore four ways in which tea can boost brain function.
#1. It boosts brain power and memory
Drinking one or two cups of freshly brewed black or green tea daily can increase connectivity in brain regions associated with working memory. Both teas inhibit the activity of certain enzymes in the brain that can negatively affect memory.
#2. It can reduce stress levels
Drinking tea lowers cortisol, the primary stress hormone. Cortisol increases glucose in the bloodstream when we experience stressful situations. It increases heart rates and can cause health problems, including diabetes, decreased immune response, and digestive function.
#3. It can help reduce symptoms of depression
Besides the healthy compounds tea contains, drinking loose-leaf tea regularly gives you a small break from the world, an essential coping strategy for depressed people. The caffeine in teas from the Camellia Sinensis plant can help block mood-depressing chemicals in the brain.
It blocks the brain receptors from binding with adenosine, a chemical that causes fatigue and feelings associated with depression.
#4. It boosts mental clarity and focus
Tea leaves contain caffeine and the amino acid L-Theanine. Together these compounds have a profound effect on cognitive function. They heighten awareness, focus, and energy and boost mental endurance.
What About Herbal Teas?
If you prefer to drink herbal tea, you'll be happy to know that it can also help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Caffeine-free teas have different mental health benefits, but they are also helpful for overall health, which includes physical and mental wellness.
Depending on the type of tea, herbal teas can contain herbal supplements and other healthy compounds with incredible health benefits, for example:
Antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals and stress.
Antibacterial and antiviral compounds.
Herbs that can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
A healthy body means a healthy mind!
Please note: Although herbal teas have incredible health benefits, it's usually best to talk to your health practitioner before including herbal supplements in your daily routine. Most of them are 100% safe, but some can interact with certain medications, so it's best to check.
The Best Teas For Cognitive Well-being
If you want to use teas for your mental health, this short guide will help you choose the best tea for your needs. Whether you need a bedtime tea to help you fall asleep, one to wake you up and help you focus, or a blend to help you relax and unwind, there's at least one blend for every need.
The Best Tea For Focus and Energy
Freshly brewed green tea and matcha tea are some of the best teas for focus and energy. Research has proven their incredible potential health benefits for immunity, cancer and heart disease prevention, and more.
Green tea and matcha contain L-theanine, an amino acid that helps slow caffeine absorption and induces a calming effect. It also increases alpha brain waves and works directly on the nervous system to induce calm focus while energizing the mind and body. A perfect combination to boost cognitive performance!
To maximize everything green tea offers, try one of these delicious blends. They all contain matcha or green tea and other plant ingredients with benefits, for example, ginger and turmeric. Ginger can improve brain function, and turmeric can improve memory. If you prefer herbal tea, turmeric or ginger tea are excellent choices for enhanced focus.
The Right Tea For Falling Asleep
If falling asleep doesn't come naturally to you, these calming blends can help you. They contain natural sleep aids like chamomile, valerian, and lavender. Chamomile flowers are famous for their calming properties and are extensively used in teas to help treat generalized anxiety disorder and insomnia.
Valerian root comes from the valerian plant. It has a robust and earthy flavor that's overwhelming for some people. However, the benefits are just as potent as the flavor of valerian root. It's been used as a herbal remedy to treat severe symptoms of anxiety and depression and is invaluable as part of a bedtime tea.
Lavender tea is famous for its calming properties. Even the scent of lavender can help improve sleep quality! Lavender tea also has a delightful floral flavor and aroma, making it a flavorful option.
The Best Tea For Relaxing
If you're looking for the best tea to help you unwind, try lavender, chamomile, or peppermint tea. Or a blend with more than one calming ingredient. You'll be spoilt for choice with this tasty selection of blends. You're bound to find a flavor combination that you'll love that will also help you to reduce stress and anxiety.
With caffeine-free ingredients like fennel, ginger, and peppermint, these herbal teas can help induce relaxation and reduce the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Research shows that, like lavender tea, even the wonderful aroma of peppermint tea can help you relax. You can use a few leaves from a peppermint plant in hot water or add them to another blend.
Fennel can help relax muscles and has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Lemon verbena can boost mood and help you detox. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, and its curcumin boosts serotonin and dopamine levels, which can help lower anxiety, providing a calming effect.
Why You Should Choose Loose-Leaf Tea Over Tea Bags
If you plan to use tea to improve cognitive function, it's best to use the highest-quality tea you can buy for maximum benefits and flavor. Loose-leaf tea is usually higher quality, and its healthy compounds are more concentrated. Although tea bags will still give you benefits and taste, they're usually less potent than loose-leaf teas.
Brewing a Perfect Cup of Tea
Now that you know why you should drink loose-leaf tea every day, here are some tips on how to brew the perfect cup of tea.
It's best to use high-quality loose-leaf tea instead of tea bags. You'll get the full range of benefits, including flavor, aroma, and mental and physical health benefits. For a delicious range of loose-leaf tea blends, look at the Firebelly Tea selection. If you prefer tea bags, try to use high-quality pyramid-shaped bags.
Your next step is to prepare fresh, filtered water. Bring it to a boil and let it cool for around 30 seconds before you pour it over the tea leaves. If the water is too hot, it can scald the leaves and produce a bitter brew.
For loose-leaf black tea, steep for three to five minutes. Freshly brewed loose-leaf green tea only requires two to three minutes; the same applies to white or herbal tea.
Once it's steeped, strain the leaves, and enjoy!
Grab Your Favorite Tea Blend And De-stress
Science has proven that daily tea consumption has many health benefits. Tea leaves are full of antioxidants and other healthy compounds that boost brain health and combat anxiety. These ingredients also protect you from oxidative stress, so your cells and tissues are protected from free radical damage. Since this is linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, tea can help prevent these diseases.
Besides the incredible health benefits of loose-leaf teas, the tea-making ritual is a stress reliever in itself. Making a cup of tea is comforting and has a calming effect. Sitting back and relaxing with a cup of freshly brewed tea is sometimes all we need to minimize anxiety and depression symptoms and improve sleep quality.