The Mental Health Benefits of Tea and Tea Rituals
Dianne Kelly from MentaliTEA Collective shares the benefits of tea and tea rituals in nurturing you mental health.
"Tea is a lifestyle and mental health is the benefit."
Never have I read such truer words.
Up until about 4 years ago I was a staunch coffee drinker and never ever thought I would one day walk away from my love ( a 5 -6 cups per day kinda love). It soon caught up with me though. I was suffering insomnia, irritability and was no longer able to easily focus on things -even the really easy things.
After going to the GP absolutely exhausted and emotional, I decided that something needed to change. That started with cutting out caffeine. And boy what a journey that was! I went from 5-6 cups a day(and sometimes even more), to 2-3 a day and my goodness the headaches and nausea were unbearable at times. I had the shakes, sweats and what felt like never ending nausea. There were times I just wanted to be sick rather than be left with the horrible feeling of nausea. And that’s the key word here FEELING (although it would take me nearly 4 years and stumbling across The Goop Lab and Christina Lopes to realise it).
Feeling. Feeling the loss of my caffeine hit which was also a great comfort to me - what was I to do? The warm smooth flavour was often the hug I needed to start (and get through) my day. Warm water and lemon is great for a short period and does taste delicious (not to mention the health benefits to my skin), but I always felt like I needed more than that. And so I turned to TEA. While I have never been a fan of black tea I soon discovered a whole word of tea out there with many healing properties. This was exactly what I had been looking for.
5 Mental Health Benefits of Drinking Tea:
Green tea, black tea, hibiscus, chamomile and other different flavours are full of many healthy goodies and components which may provide important mental health and physical benefits.
1.Tea Boosts Your Memory.
Studies have found that the green tea extract in particular and L-theanine can produce memory and attention span improvements in people suffering from mild cognitive impairments. Green tea has also shown to help reduce body fat.
While the exact causes of Alzheimer's are still unclear and there is no cure, research confirms that green and black tea drinking improves cognitive scores among those with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
2.Tea Provides A Calming Effect.
Studies have also shown that The amino acid L-theanine found in the tea plant has been shown to alter the attention networks in the brain and can have demonstrable effects on the brain waves. This means that tea can help you relax and concentrate more fully on tasks. Chamomile tea is well known for it’s calming properties. It is also extremely effective at helping with anxiety and insomnia, another common symptom of depression.
3.Tea lowers stress hormone levels.
Black tea has been shown to reduce the effects of a stressful event. Studies have shown a 20% drop in cortisol, a stress hormone, after drinking 4 cups of tea daily for one month.
4.Tea Can Increase Energy and Mental Focus.
Tea contains caffeine, though not as much as the average cup of coffee. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, which has the effect of opening our airways and getting our blood to pump faster, both of which our brain requires to function optimally, which is why we often feel alert and focused after drinking tea.
5.Tea Makes Us Feel Good
When someone makes you a cup of tea it feels good doesn’t it? You get a little glow of gratitude and pleasure from this small act. But did you know, that ‘feeling’ you’re experiencing is actually a release of serotonin, one of the most important neurotransmitters in helping us function well emotionally? When we have a good flow of serotonin we are most often able to cope, are happy and feel confident.
My Tea Journey
Carrying out my own research, I discovered teas that would help me to get a good night’s sleep, focus better at work and decrease my irritability. The magic of chamomile and lavender as a relaxant; skullcap to calm my nerves and lemon balm as a stress soother. Damn! Even back in the times of Ancient Greece and Rome people were using Rosemary to strengthen the memory and I can tell you from personal experience, it works! It helps to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, the chemical in the brain that is important for thinking, concentration and memory. How amazing is that!
I find that two cups a day of MentaliTEA's Concentration TEA does more for my being able to focus than coffee ever did. The same goes for Unwind TEA when I am feeling stressed, it calms me down and tastes good too. It’s the combination of ingredients that is key, all natural and caffeine free. Ginger root, Liquorice root, lemon balm, brahmi leaves all have superpowers that can transform lives if we let them.
Withdrawing completely from caffeine has taken quite awhile to get used to but so worth the choice and now there is no looking back. I feel clear headed, relaxed, calm and happier most days, all thanks to making the switch to tea.
There are so many different kinds of teas that have different kinds of benefits on our mental and physical health.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the benefits of tea rituals. We all find tea physically soothing and emotionally comforting; perhaps that’s where the association of health and ritual began. It will warm us if we are cool, it will cool us down if we are too hot and it will cheer us if we are depressed.
Ritual tea drinking, which originated in China, was first practiced in Japan during the Kamakura period (1192–1333) by Zen monks, who drank tea to keep awake during long sessions of meditation. It later became an active part of Zen ritual honouring the first patriarch, Bodhidharma (Japanese: Daruma).
There are so many benefits to tea rituals beyond just drinking a hot cuppa. A family tea ritual provides the opportunity to connect and share our thoughts and feelings. Establishing a tea ritual for our children provides tools they’ll need to help manage stress more effectively throughout their lives.
There is no right or wrong way to perform a tea ritual as long as it’s something that speaks to you, enveloping you in a state of relaxation and balance. I’ve come to look forward to the tranquility as well as the creativity it sparks in me. By establishing a daily tea ritual, we can enlist the meditative properties that have the potential to produce powerful effects on our mind, body and spirit.
My Tea Ritual
I absolutely love the ritual I have created for myself and it’s something I look forward to everyday. It isn’t anything fancy but it is time just for me where I can stop, breathe and look inwards.
Grabbing my favourite teacup and saucer specially purchased for my tea ritual instantly makes me smile as I let the loose tea leaves steep and watch the water change colour and smell the delicious aroma. This is my me time.
I have found of late that I have three tea rituals during the day - each with a different tea blend. I look forward to these pauses in my day where I stop and take time out to make something so beautiful, delicious and nurturing to my soul.
I encourage you to find your own tea ritual and start enjoying the benefits that tea and your tea ritual can bring.
If you are wanting to read more on the mental health benefits of tea, here are a couple of useful articles:
For more on Tea Rituals, this article from Tea Jubilee is a great read:
Dianne Kelly is the Founder of MentaliTEA Collective. As a single woman in her mid 40’s, her tea journey over the past four years has led to some insightful self reflection and helped her to build an understanding on the importance and benefits of natural healing. Living with anxiety and mild depression, Dianne just thought it was a state of norm to be agitated and emotional all the time. But it isn’t! And life has so much more to offer, especially through tea.