Disclaimer: This information is intended as a general reference only and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner.
Our Facebook fans know why tea is good for your health. One of it’s chief benefits is how it can relax you while at the same time giving a bit of an uplift to your mood. We all realize that the very act of stepping away from whatever you are doing in order to steep tea can all by itself help you relax and refresh your mind. But the teas themselves add to that effect. Here are five teas that relax you the best.
In reality, even though these items are commonly referred to as “teas,” with one exception they are actually herbs. In Asian countries the people in various countries use one word for plants infused in water, such as “cha” or “tay.” In English-speaking countries, we say tea, although some use the French word “tisane” or the term “herbal infusion.” True tea is made from the leaves (and often stems) of the tea plant species (Camellia sinensis). But whatever you call them, we find some to be a great way to unwind.
Our top picks:
1 – Green Tea
I wanted to start with a true tea. There are many varieties, and we carry some of the best on our store. While tea does have caffeine, a stimulant, it also has L-Theanine, a calmer. Simply put, L-Theanine is an amino acid found in tea leaves. It was isolated and identified by Japanese scientists in 1949. Since then it has been added to a variety of products, including GABA teas. But a nice warm cup of green tea is our preferred option. Fortunately, unless you drink inhuman amounts of tea, this ingredient is safe. Some people have reported that L-Theanine in true tea helps with postpartum anxiety.
The best teas for L-Theanine are “shade grown” such as gyokuro and matcha (best overall since you consume the whole leaf). The shade causes the tea leaves to build up chlorophyll to produce enough energy despite the shade. On the other hand, this reduces the amount of antioxidants in the overall tea.
Prepare you green tea properly to avoid bitterness. The water should be not hotter than 80°F, not boiling! Otherwise you end up stewing, not infusing. The cooler water temperature will create a sweeter tea. Steeping a PROPER cup of gyokuro or matcha in the Japanese style is EXTREMELY difficult. Be prepared to ruin your first few cups or just steep it as you would other green teas (there are no added benefits to the tea by steeping it in these traditional methods).
Shop for green teas.
2 – Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
This is probably the first one most folks think of for a relaxing cupful before bed. And it certainly lives up to its reputation (thus, we carefully selected a blend or two for our store). Chamomile tea uses the flower, which is small (about 1/8th to 1/4th inch in diameter) and similar to the daisy. Infuse it for about 8 to 10 minutes in water heated to a full boil. Historically, chamomile has been a big part of people’s lives, starting with ancient Egyptians who used it as a medicine. Women who are pregnant and people with ragweed allergies are often cautioned against drinking this tisane, though.
Chamomile has many volatile oils such as proazulenes, bisabolol, farnesine, pinene, anthemal, spiroether, and angelic acid, plus beneficial ingredients like alpha bisabolol, matricin, apigenin, sesquiterpine lactones, flavonoids (apigenin, quercitin, patuletin, and luteolin), and tannins. Some of these are also found in true teas.
Try our chamomile teas.
3 – Kava Kava
Kava root, from the South Pacific, was traditionally chewed and the liquid spit into bowls, pounded to release the moisture, or sun-dried, ground, and steeped in water to make an intoxicating, relaxing mild sedative. It’s supposed to reduce anxiety, induce calmness, cause sedation without mental impairment, and generally chill a person out. Beware of capsules, since some makers add in leaves and sticks, which contain toxins; the root (dried, ground, whole, or fresh) is safe, though. Use water when preparing, not alcohol as some are now doing, since the water extracts glutathione (a powerful antioxidant that our bodies manufacture) from the kava.
4 – Valerian Root
Valerian root is an excellent muscle relaxer, as good as prescription, and without the side effects. The aroma, however, can be rather unpleasant. The valerian plant has lovely flowers and leaves that resemble ferns, but it’s the root and rhizome that are used for benefits, most often served up as dried powder in capsules, a tea, or a tincture. Ayurvedic (Indian), Chinese, and classical Hellenic medical systems employed valerian as an anti-insomnia and anti-anxiety medicine. Valerian is safe, well-tolerated, and seems to have fewer side effects than pharmaceutical sedatives and anti-anxiety meds. Women who are pregnant should avoid it since the effects are not well-known.
5 – Lavender (Lavandula)
Lavender in another plant thought to have relaxing and anti-stress properties. The lavenders (Lavandula) are a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. The compelling fragrance has made it a widely used herb going back at least 2,500 years to ancient Egypt. These days it is used in anything needing a pleasant fragrance and, of course, in tea blends and tisanes. Benefits include aromatherapy (for stress, sleep, and relaxation). Women who are pregnant or lactating should avoid lavender, though.
Other Ingredients to Look For:
- Peppermint – While most think of this for energy and helping digestion, peppermint is also great in a bedtime tea, especially if you have overindulged at the dinner table, and when combined with Rooibos, which is caffeine free, you get a very flavorful tisane for sweet dreams. Try our Rooibos Minty Relaxer (Caffeine Free).
- Lemon balm – There are no definitive studies showing that lemon balm relaxes you, but many people swear that the soothing flavor and aroma do just that. So we have to leave this one up to you.
- St John’s Wort (Hypericum) – A relaxer, anti-depressant, and anxiety reliever, or so many users claim. Some people have reported bad reactions to it, so check with your doctor first.
- Blue vervain – Research has shown it can be effective against certain nervous conditions but should not used for extended periods of time.
- Catnip – It can also reduce muscle tension while providing mild stimulation. If your troubles are making it difficult to fall asleep, try catnip in a tea before bedtime. It could also help if your lack of sleep is giving you headaches. Even people with severe anxiety may benefit.
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) – Lemon balm is not only amazingly delicious, it acts on the nervous system to make you feel less nervous, anxious or upset and get into deeper cycles of sleep. Generally taken in a tea, lemon balm may also reduce headaches. Let it steep up to 15 minutes and use it in a hot or iced tea. Avoid using with other sedatives.
- Passionflower(Passiflora incarnate) – For people with moderate anxiety, passionflower presents the benefits of kava without the possible risks. Passionflower is recommended for people with a mild to moderate level of anxiety since it is known to decrease muscle tension, calm nerves, and help with headaches and sleep difficulties.
- Hops – In tea, this herb is said to help fight insomnia, indigestion, and headaches, as well as helping a fever caused by stress and a weakened immune system.
- Rhodiola Rosea (rose root or arctic root) – Acts as a powerful compound (adaptogen) that improves your ability to adapt to physiological stress without withdrawal symptoms.
- Magnolia Bark (Magnolia officinalis) – The bark of the magnolia, a deciduous tree whose bark is prized in traditional Chinese medicine. People have been using the bark for its medicinal qualities as far back as 100 AD. It gets billed as a sedative with strong anti-anxiety and anti-stress effects. Studies back up these claims for the most part. Women who are pregnant should consult their doctor before using this. Also avoid combining it with alcohol.
- Licorice Root(Glycyrrhiza spp.) – The botanical name refers to “glukos” (Greek for “sweet” as in glucose). The licorice root is said to contain high amounts of glycyrrhizin, which is supposed to be 50 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). A tea made from this root is considered a tonic plant in many traditional medicinal systems. It promotes a healthy adrenal response to stress. Licorice contains triterpenoid saponins (glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetinic acid) and flavonoids, flavones, and chalcones and isoflavones.
A Few Personal Notes
Select your favorite tea and have a cup each night at bedtime to get you into a routine, mentally and physically. After awhile, you may find yourself going into sleep mode on your own. Plus, a good part of the calming effect of these teas is taking the time to steep them properly! Take time, slow down, and sip the tea.
Some studies have been done to confirm many of the claims above as well as for other herbal remedies, but more are needed to fully assure the effectiveness of these teas. For now, you can give them a try and see how they work for you.