“Dear Autumn, I have come to the firm conclusion that tea is magic.” – Carrie Hope Fletcher
As the colder months arrive, college students find themselves locked in the library for hours, bundled up in scarves and coats, running from one extracurricular activity to the next. Autumn can be an exciting but stressful time, and staying healthy as the weather gets colder can be tricky. A cup of tea can be the answer to many of these concerns; a way to slow down in times of stress, and no less with hidden health benefits.
Tea In Times of Stress.
In the rush of endless tests and extracurricular activities, a cup of tea can be the perfect thing to force us to slow down. “I primarily rely on it for stress relief. For me, drinking tea directly correlates to ‘me time’ ” says Emerson Journalism major and avid tea drinker Molli DeRosa.
Peppermint and chamomile are particularly known for their relaxing qualities, and along with other herbs they provide many health benefits. Peppermint and licorice, found in many relaxing herbal blends, can be particularly soothing to a sore throat while hibiscus and rosehip are both effective in treating colds. Known as herbal tisanes, these teas are dried herbs that can be brewed into tea. Since they are simply dried fruit or herbs there are no actual tea leaves in herbal tisanes. The lack of tea leaves ensures that all herbal or fruit tisanes will be caffeine free, which makes making them the perfect thing to reach for before bed.
When looking to relax throughout the day, green and white teas provide enough caffeine for a mid-afternoon pick me up while still retaining a mild and earthy flavor. For those seeking a balance between higher levels of caffeine and soothing tastes, a lavender earl grey variety might be the way to go. Used in everything from food to body lotion, Lavender is known for its homeopathic, calming qualities. Adding it to earl grey tea imparts a sweeter flavor and floral aroma, creating an overall soothing experience.
As the colder months come around, we turn to old comforts and holiday staples. Flavors like ginger, cinnamon, clove, and cardamom create the perfect balance between sugar and spice. Chai tea, a mix of black tea and spices, is the most popular brew during this season. Recently chai has gained a lot more popularity, to the point where there are now dozens of different twists on the original chai recipe being sold. There are sticky honey chai tea and popcorn chai tea, which are just a couple examples of the T2 chai campaign. Although chai teas tend to have the most caffeine, rooibos or red tea is blended with the same spices to create a caffeine-free chai tea. Rooibos is a naturally sweet and warming South African plant which makes it perfect to pair with chai spices for a comforting brew. Spices like cinnamon and ginger in these seasonal blends also have immunity-boosting effects and can aid digestion.
“Some people think that tea is just flavored water, but it isn’t, it’s a way of life” mentions Josh. An employee at T2, a Newbury Street shop specializing in tea, Josh relates tea not only to the blends and health benefits but to a larger experience of family and culture. Something as simple as a few leaves and some hot water speaks volumes to who we are as people, how we choose to fuel our bodies, how we choose to slow down in times of stress. Making a cup of tea means taking that extra moment to do something for yourself which is vital to our lives as students.
Originally published in Atlas Magazine’s 2017 Fall issue as part of the Health Section