Brits are known for reaching for a cup of tea to fix anything.
The phrase ‘tea and sympathy’ has even made it into the Macmillan dictionary as shorthand for providing support and kindness for someone who is upset or in trouble.
While the many benefits of black and green tea are well documented, from boosting metabolism to anti-ageing, herbal teas too, may also come with benefits.
They can help calm the nervous system to even assisting on energy levels, especially if they’re quality, well-sourced teas high in active ingredients.
Just this week a leading scientist claimed that camomile could even help manage diabetes.
The herbal beverage helps to manage people’s blood-sugar levels through its effects on carbohydrate digestion, said associate professor Richard Blackburn, who is head of the Sustainable Materials Research Group at the University of Leeds.
Indeed, common parlance aside, most of us know instinctively that a cup of tea really can help, whether you’re feeling sad, stressed, in need of a lift, celebrating a triumph and everything in between.
Herbal teas have a variety of benefits: hibiscus can lower your blood pressure, while marigold can help to ease stomach cramps
‘All teas are healthy,’ says Louise Cheadle, a tea taster (yes that is a thing and what a dream job) for cult tea brand Teapigs.
‘Black, green, white and oolong teas contain tea flavonoids which research shows have an antioxidant effect on the body and all teas are hydrating so they help increase water levels in the body’.
Moreover, she explains, ‘Herbal teas and rooibos teas have lots of different benefits and have been drunk for centuries in different countries in lots of different ways’.
It’s led the team at Healthista – being the total tea fanatics that we are – to celebrate National Tea Day on April 20th by asking the question: which tea-scription (tea prescription, get it?) can help which need?
What’s so great about green tea?
Scientific evidence of the benefits of green tea is not conclusive, but people drink it for a number of reasons and it is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine.
All teas are produced from the same type of plant, but the leaves are processed differently for different types.
The leaves are thought to contain more antioxidants than other types of tea.
It is thought that green tea makes you burn more calories thanks to its caffeine and catechins (antioxidants).
Drinking green tea can help to lower cholesterol; high cholesterol can cause heart problems.
One study showed that green tea was as good as mouthwash at preventing tooth decay.
Source: NHS Choices
You’ve probably heard enough about the health benefits of green tea by now, from heart health to anti-agieng. But one of its key benefits is for increasing metabolism.
A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea-extract increases the metabolism by four per cent over a 24 hour period. Three to five cups a day can help you burn an extra 70 calories a day, which adds up to seven pounds a year, 35 pounds for five years and 70 pounds for 10 years.
Green tea has also been shown to inhibit fat absorption – the movement of glucose into fat cells, support healthy glucose levels after eating a meal, prevent insulin spikes which prevents fat storage, and reduce appetite.
‘For increased energy and to help support the nervous system, liquorice is a great tea’, says Hay. Animal studies have showed it helps with fat metabolism and, according to Hay, it’s great before a workout because it provides energy.
Try: Trim from Teapigs, £3.99, which contains a potent mix of green tea and liquorice along with organic guarana which helps with energy production, ficus and stimulates digestion.
Whether taken as a juice, supplement or tea, beetroot is fast becoming a favourite of athletes because of its ability to promote nitric acid production in the body – essential for energy.
A review of studies recently found beetroot could help with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and previous research has found it helps stamina too.
‘Hibiscus can help lower blood pressure and is a great liver tonic too,’ says Hay. ‘Liver health is essential to energy production.’
In Egypt, hibiscus tea known as karkady is served both hot and cold over ice.
Try: Upbeet Energy tea, £3.99, from Teapigs which contains beetroot, hibiscus, ginger and green tea and tastes super fruity and aromatic with a sweet edge (it’s gorgeous on ice too).
Its reputation as a medicinal plant that makes you snooze is well known and the fresh chamomile plant has a distinct apple-ish smell and its reputed benefits include strengthening the immune system, aiding digestion, calming nerves and easing stomach pains.
‘Along with being a great support for the nervous system, chamomile is also believed to help period pain,’ says Hay.
Not just for curries, lemongrass makes a delicious citrus-tastic tea. Its herbal properties are centuries old and are commonly used in Indonesia and Malaysia by herbalists as a tonic to help combat depression and low mood.
‘Along with being great for mood, concentration and sleep, lemongrass is also a digestive tonic so great after eating,’ says Hay.
Try: Calm Relaxing Tea from Teapigs, £3.99, which also contains valerian, a powerful herb used for helping promote calm with a clean, limey taste we love.