Even in the modern day, though, tea is an important part of the equation for increasing your wellbeing. The antioxidants and vitamins in tea help support your physical health, while the taste and smell help to soothe and calm your mind. These benefits can greatly enhance your meditation experience.
I’ve been a teahead for most of my life, but I only recently decided to delve into the wonderful world of meditation apps. I downloaded five of the most popular ones to my phone, and tried them out to find which one is truly the best - all while exploring how tea and meditation can be combined for a more holistic wellness experience.
So today, I’m going to share the best free meditation apps and delicious teas for:
- Reducing Anxiety
- Restful Sleep
- Mindful Fitness
- Increased Focus
1. Best Meditation App to Reduce Anxiety: Breethe
Breethe for iOS | Breethe for Android
What do I get for free? When you first open the app, Breethe presents you with a free guided meditation series on reducing anxiety specifically toward the COVID-19 pandemic. Once you sign up for a free account, it allows you to track your progress and throws in another 90+ free meditations, tracks, and relaxing videos.
Should I go premium? The premium version gives you access to all the meditations on the app, plus the ability to download recordings for offline listening. After a 14-day free trial, the premium version costs $12.99/month, $89.99/year, or $149.99 for lifetime access.
When I first opened Breethe, I was struck by how pretty the interface is. In fact, I think it might have the best-looking UI out of all these apps. It plays ambient, soothing music as you’re browsing through the app, which I thought was a nice feature.
Even before you sign up for a free account, Breathe offers you several free meditation sequences related to inner wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic. I picked the “Daily Breether” Part of the Whole guided meditation, which focused on helping you feel more connected to your loved ones and the rest of the world. I thought it was excellent, and it left me feeling floppy and relaxed. Not bad for a ten-minute recording!
While some of the other apps on this list also have coronavirus-related meditations, Breethe is the only one that displays them in a prominent place, making it a simple go-to for people looking to relieve some of their stress in this difficult time.
Best Tea to Reduce Anxiety: Tulsi Holy Basil
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The mind is undeniably a powerful tool, but anxiety and stress create physical responses in the body which can also be addressed. To create a truly holistic plan for relieving anxiety, allow me to introduce you to Tulsi Holy Basil!
Tulsi Holy Basil is an herbal tea from India which has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for millennia. It has a lovely, warm, herbaceous taste, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite herbal teas.
Tulsi has a ridiculously high amount of antioxidants, and is also considered an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it helps modulate the body’s stress-regulating systems to bring them back to a place of homeostasis. To learn more about adaptogens and how they work in your body, check out our post on the subject!
Thanks to this adaptogenic behavior, Tulsi can help reduce stress, and is one of the best teas for anxiety. For more information about Tulsi Holy Basil, how it works and its benefits, read our Tulsi spotlight post.
2. Best Meditation App for Restful Sleep: Calm
What do I get for free? The free version of Calm comes with a sampling of its offerings, including a few free sleep stories, courses, and playlists. For the most part, their multi-day meditation programs give you the first day for free.
Should I go premium? The premium version gives you access to all of Calm’s meditations, masterclasses, sleep stories, and music, with new content added every week. After a 7-day free trial, the premium version costs $69.99/year.
Immediately, I noticed that Calm is a very well-designed app. Its interface is pretty and soothing, and it plays nice, ambient sounds while you’re browsing its library. It has a wide variety of mindfulness-related content, but sleep is a major focus, with a large library of meditations, calming music, and recordings to help you fall asleep.
Interestingly, this app has a ton of sleep stories narrated by famous celebrities. I listened to a free one - a story about a magic hotel narrated by Eva Green - and it felt like a very fancy addition to my midday nap. So if you’ve ever wanted to fall asleep to a soothing bedtime story told to you by Harry Styles, Matthew McConaughey, or Lucy Liu, Calm has you covered!
In terms of skill level, Calm seems to be mostly aimed at beginners to meditation. If you’re a newbie who just wants to improve your sleep, this could be a great app for you; however, if you’re looking for something more focused on serious meditation and mindfulness, you might want to try out something else.
Best Tea For Restful Sleep: Lemongrass Chamomile
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Citrus Beauty Lemongrass Chamomile is one of my all-time favorite teas at Matcha Alternatives - it’s relaxing, healthy, and has a delicious taste with floral, citrus, and honey-like notes. It’s also a great tea for your immune system, and has helped me stave off many a cold!
Fact is, when it comes to an herbal tea for sleep, you just can’t beat chamomile. In addition to anti-inflammatory properties and digestive benefits, it has a very mild sedative action to help nudge you toward sleep without making you groggy. For more info about chamomile and its benefits, check out our chamomile spotlight post.
3. Best Meditation App for Mindful Fitness: Headspace
What do I get for free? Headspace’s free version comes with a sampling of its offerings, including a “meditation basics” course and a couple of free workouts. Most categories seem to have at least one free session for you to try.
Should I go premium? The premium version of Headspace gives you access to its entire library of content, from meditations to courses to training sessions. It costs $12.99/month with a seven-day free trial, or $69.99/year with a 14-day free trial.
Like most of these apps, Headspace comes with a wide variety of meditations for various purposes - but I’m an athlete, so I was excited to try Headspace specifically for its mindful workout options.
Most of the meditations and activities are only available with the premium version, but there are still some cool sample sessions for free. The active-type options range from workouts taught by Olympic trainers to talks on mindset created by NBA players. I tried a free workout called “Reframing Anxiety,” which was a gentle yoga-inspired workout that focused on body awareness and breathing.
If you’re an athlete, or just interested in fitness in general, Headspace could be the perfect app for you. Out of all the options I reviewed, it seems to have the most comprehensive options for people who want to bring some mindfulness into their workouts.
Best Tea for Mindful Fitness: Citrus Green Tea
Try our Orange-Lemon Citrus Burst Green Tea - $6 with free shipping
One of my favorite green teas is Matcha Alternatives’ Orange-Lemon Citrus Burst, which has some lovely orange, lemon, and lime notes, all tied together by a base of delicious Hunan sencha. It’s a delicious energizing taste for any workout, and it goes great over ice too!
So before you treat your body and mind to a Headspace workout, brew up some of this yummy green tea blend to make sure you’ll get the most out of your exercise. Hey, nobody said prepping for a workout had to be hard!
To learn more about green tea, its origins, and its benefits, check out our green tea spotlight post.
4. Best Meditation App for Relaxation: Insight Timer
What do I get for free? Insight Timer gives you access to thousands of free meditations, courses, and playlists from a whole load of meditation experts. It also has a meditation timer with various alert noises and ambient music options so that you can do your own meditation routine.
Should I go premium? Insight Timer’s premium version gives you access to additional courses and materials, as well as an offline mode and a more advanced player that can fast-forward and rewind. After a 7-day free trial, it costs $59.99/year.
Insight Timer is more social-oriented than a lot of the other apps, and the reason why it has so many meditations is because it allows meditation teachers and musicians to upload their own guided meditations and music.
This, of course, means that some of the content is better than others. That said, there are some serious mindfulness experts on this app. For my test, I picked a guided meditation for releasing anxiety by Kate James, who is a professional meditation coach and author.
Long story short, it was a great routine that helped me relax like a charm - I had no idea that my forehead was so tense all the time! Isn’t technology wonderful?
If you’re new to meditation and aren’t sure you want to pay for more advanced features, it might be worth giving Insight Timer a shot. Some of the meditations are a bit hit-and-miss, but hey, it’s free!
Best Tea for Relaxation: Earl Grey Rooibos
Buy English Garden Earl Grey Rooibos - $6 with free shipping
Rooibos is an herbal tea from South Africa that has a ton of health benefits, including antihistamine qualities and tension-relieving properties. For more information about rooibos and what it can do, check out our rooibos spotlight post.
One last note: if you want something that has the same health benefits and tastes even more like traditional Earl Grey tea, try out Matcha Alternatives’ Classy Earl Grey Rooibos. I’m a huge earl grey fiend, and it’s one of my go-to blends for chilling out!
5. Best Meditation App for Increased Focus: Tide
What do I get for free? A sampling of Tide’s soundscape collection, as well as some useful timers. You can purchase additional soundscapes without upgrading for 99 cents each. The content can be downloaded for offline playback.
Should I go premium? The Tide premium version gives you access to way more soundscapes, as well as guided meditations and more. After a 7-day free trial, it costs $11.99/month, $59.99/year, or $399.99 for lifetime access.
Tide is mainly focused on, well, focus! Its primary feature is a library of nature-inspired soundscapes, which you can use for meditation, studying, or just to chill out. It also has breathing, sleep, nap, and focus timers to help you knuckle down and get into the zone. There are guided meditations too, but they’re typically only available with the premium version - which also comes with way more soundscapes.
The soundscapes keep going even if you close the app, which I really appreciated. You can also download them to your device to listen anywhere, even on the free version (Tide is the only one of these apps that lets you listen offline for free).
As someone who listens to endless hours of YouTube live streams of thunderstorm noises, Tide is a great upgrade thanks to its versatility, portability, and easy-to-use design. I think I’ll be using this app a lot in the future!
Best Tea for Increased Focus: Superior Buttery Dragonwell Green Tea
Try Superior Buttery Dragonwell Green Tea - $8 with free shipping
Dragonwell, also known as Longjing, is perhaps the most famous Chinese green tea out there. It has a smooth, buttery texture, and its floral notes make it one of the most delicious green teas I’ve ever tried! It can only be harvested two weeks out of the whole year, making it a truly quality brew.
I mentioned above how green tea can help you get into the zone for exercise due to its caffeine levels, and the same holds true for focus in general. Green tea has a “sweet-spot” amount of caffeine, which helps you become more alert without making you hyper or jittery.
Green tea also contains theanine, an amino acid that encourages relaxation, which means that you can have a more low-stress, high-concentration study session. Check out our spotlight post for more info about green tea’s benefits.
A Note From Lauren
So which app will I be using for my own meditation? I think all of these apps are great for different reasons, but I decided to keep Insight Timer and Tide.
Insight Timer just has so much stuff in the free version, and while some of the other apps have more high-quality collections, I figured I’d at least start off with the most comprehensive free version. Drinking some chamomile or rooibos tea followed by a relaxing meditation is a wonderful way to relieve some of my stress each day.
Tide, while you do have to pay for most of its features, has such a simple and useful concept that I’ll be getting a lot of use even from the free version. I could listen to its thunderstorm soundscape all day! Pair it with some green tea, and I’ll have all my studying done in no time.
In the end, no matter what app you decide to use, any of the teas I’ve mentioned can be incorporated into your wellness routine. Staying healthy can require dedication and hard work, but tea is always an easy, relaxing way to support your body and your mind!
Want to mix up your bedtime tea routine? These delicious chamomile teas have you covered. Plus, save $5.50 off the regular price on the 4oz trio!
Matcha Alternatives' Green Tea Collection
Ready to get focused? Check out our collection of ethically-sourced pure green teas and blends!
"The Purist" Organic Tulsi Holy Basil
The perfect companion to your stress-relieving meditation! Delicious, packed with goodness, and always ethically sourced.
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All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only.
References for The 5 Best Meditation Apps and Teas
1. Kemp, Adam. “Green Tea Before a Workout or After? – Benefits, Uses & More.” Adam Kemp Fitness, June 11, 2020, https://www.adamkempfitness.com/green-tea-before-workout/
2. Morgan, Stephany. “Busting the Matcha Myth: Does matcha really have 137 times more antioxidants (EGCG) than green tea?” Matcha Alternatives, December 12, 2019. https://matchaalternatives.com/blogs/the-ma-blog/busting-the-matcha-myth-137-times-the-antioxidants
Further Reading Related to The 5 Best Meditation Apps and Teas
Antioxidants in Rooibos, Honeybush & Chamomile: What Do They Actually Do?
How Are Antioxidants Measured? ORAC Scores and How Much You Need Per Day
Caffeine in Coffee and Tea: All You Need to Know
Tulsi Holy Basil: An Ancient Tea for Modern Times
A Tea & Tisane Primer (Everything You Need to Know About Tea and 'Tea')
Love this article, Lauren! I’ve definitely been wanting to meditate more but have trouble finding the motivation and focus. Definitely going to check out some of these apps.