We love autumn, although it can be a stressful time of year -holidays are over, the kids are back at school, and there’s an altogether more… businesslike attitude in the air. Or is that just us? Either way, we could all use a bit of help relaxing sometimes. Here are some awesome tea ingredients that will help you do just that.
We all know lavender has a relaxing smell – but did you know you can drink lavender tea? It might seem weird brewing a cup of tea that smells like a body lotion, but it has a very delicate flavour and blends very well with other calming herbs like the king of sleepy teas, chamomile. It’s not just a nice smell either – lavender tea is thought to promote calm brain activity by triggering chemical reactions in the nervous system. and even appears to boost the production of dopamine and reduce cortisol levels – aka the stress hormone. Lavender is also a great choice if you are bunged up with a cold – it is thought to have antibacterial effects which can soothe sore throats and congestion.
Valerian is widely used in natural medicine as a sedative and a treatment for symptoms of stress and anxiety such as stomach upset, and is also potentially useful for soothing menstrual cramps. Valerian is thought to enhance the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain which has a calming effect. We’ll be honest, valerian by itself is not a taste sensation and smells a lot like feet, so it’s wise to combine valerian with some more palatable herbs!
- Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is actually related to the mint plant and does indeed have a wonderful lemony and minty fragrance. Lemon balm has been used in herbal remedies for hundreds of years and is thought to have a calming and mood-boosting effect, earning it the nickname heartsease. Lemon balm appears to work by reducing levels of cortisol (there’s that pesky stress hormone again) and is thought to be a natural remedy for anxiety.
Another wonderfully fragrant plant, rose has been used for a natural remedy for over 5000 years, as well as a perfume and food flavouring. You may have enjoyed a Turkish delight flavoured with rose water (that’s what flavour they were going for with the chocolate bar, believe it or not) and it’s not just a nice taste – tea made from rose petals is rich in antioxidants, and is a popular folk remedy for PMS and cramps. Rose tea is thought to aid relaxation and have a soothing effect on the mind and body – as well as being super tasty.
This is it -the heavy hitter of relaxing teas. Lots of people enjoy a chamomile tea before going to bed to help induce a naturally deep sleep, and also find chamomile helps to ease an upset stomach. The active ingredient in chamomile is apigenin, a natural compound found in the plant that has mild sedative and anxiety-reducing effects. Chamomile has a very mild flavour which is kind of wheaty, or like the smell of hay, and pairs really well with other relaxing ingredients like lavender and rose, and masks the stinky valerian like a champ.
Note: If you take prescribed medication, have a diagnosed medical condition, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, check with your doctor before enjoying these (or any) herbal teas!