Hello tea drinkers, and happy New Year!
2020 was a hard and trying year, so how can you best rejuvenate, restart, and renew? I recommend tea resolutions!
I have focused on several common New Year's resolutions: weight loss, stress management, more sleep, and better focus. While these are many faceted goals, I do have some good news for you… tea can help! From calming properties to weight loss effects, tea can help you establish a new, healthy lifestyle. Tea also helps you avoid the post-January resolution lull, because tea is a treat!
Keep reading for my tea-tips regarding:
- What are the best teas for weight loss?
- What are the best teas for stress management? Does tea reduce anxiety? (Yes!)
- Can tea improve sleep quality? What tea is good before bed?
- What tea helps you focus?
Getting in shape sadly isn't only downhill skiing in beautiful places...
What are the Best Teas to Help Get in Shape?
The first New Year's resolution I will address is weight loss, a classic. This one in particular faces serious burnout a month into the new year as we all know!
Wondering how to get in shape in 2021? Nutritious food, exercise, and hydration are common and necessary solutions (never just do one!). But lucky for you, there’s one bonus thing you might not have considered: tea!
Tea will keep you feeling good while helping you out on this goal in multiple ways:
Tea as a dessert alternative & alcohol alternative
Any of our teas make a delicious, guilt free substitute for sugary, calorie-packed drinks. If you are looking for naturally sweet teas (with no added sugar of course) try our fruity and dessert selection. When choosing sweeter teas, check the ingredients - some companies add sugar and milk powder to ramp up the taste, but this also adds hidden calories.
I have had tea lovers reach out to MA to discuss alcohol replacement too. My response was that in the evenings we often drink for the ceremony of mixing a drink or opening a bottle, the fun of something tasty (or something new when thinking about cocktails) and the relaxing affect people are after. Well, thankfully tea can help! Brewing a calorie-free, fun-flavored tea or herbal tea ticks all these boxes, but without the downsides of alcohol.
BONUS: Finally, herbal teas are also a healthy evening treat for children. (You can all the details about decaf, zero calorie, sugar free tea for kids here Christmas Tea Time for Kids: Beloved Stories & Herbal Teas to Match.) So much better than caffeine-filled hot chocolate! (Yes hot chocolate has caffeine as well as sugar of course...not exactly helpful for a restful sleep.)
Can tea have anti-obesity effects or support weight loss?
In short, yes. It all depends on the tea!
Chai spice blends are a great example of a tea type that help in multiple ways. For example, our chai Blend@Home collection contains thermogenic herbs like cinnamon, cardamom and ginger, which means they will jumpstart the metabolism, support digestive processes, and enhance satiety (1, 2, 2a).
Cinnamon helps regulate fasting glucose levels, which play a crucial role in weight loss (3, 4), while green teas contain EGCG, catechin-polyphenols, and caffeine, which also contribute to thermogenesis (5). To learn about EGCG, and an overview of green teas’ super hero health benefits check out our post Most Common Antioxidants in Green Tea.
Yerba Mate has demonstrated anti-obesity effects. It slows the gastric emptying resulting in feeling fuller, longer (7). Amazing!
So imagine making yourself a cinnamon mate chai in the morning, or a cardamom green tea chai in the afternoon. Job done.
Want to learn how tea assists with digestion? Well, I’ve answered that too with my blog 6 Best Herbal Teas for Digestion & Why They Work.
Can tea have protein?
One word: Moringa! Adding moringa to your diet is an excellent health choice: Low in calories but packed with protein and micronutrients like electrolytes, Moringa makes an excellent workout supplement (6). It’s also a complete protein, vegan, and can be added to foods or beverages to give them a healthy boost (6),
Plant-based proteins are extremely rare. Any 'true' teas from the Camellia sinensis plant, like green, black, oolong, white, etc. don't contain protein, likewise chamomile, rooibos, and other herbal teas also don't. Moringa is a unique leaf in that way!
They even call moringa the ‘miracle tree’ due to its volume of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc. It truly is a superfood.
For ease you can mix some moringa into a smoothie or make a moringa omelette to fuel up before your workout! 100 grams of Moringa (about ¼ cup of the powdered leaf) is just 92 calories and contains 27 grams of protein. It’s also a whole food: no isolates, no additives, no sugars or preservatives like in commercial protein powders (6).
If you’re not sure where to start, try our Moringa Powder Vegan Protein Shake. For our Moringa spotlight and loads more references, Moringa: The Complete Vegan Protein is an excellent guide.
What are the Best Teas to Help Calm Anxiety?
We’re all facing our fair share of stress, especially this year for obvious reasons. If you’ve resolved to find stillness in the chaos, to center yourself and take some well needed self-care time to manage and reduce stress levels, I'm here to help.
Best teas for soothing anxiety
Some herbs are known as adaptogens because they help the body adapt to stress. They regulate and normalize physiological functions, and are some of the coolest plants out there.
How do adaptogens work? They act on the immune-neuro-endocrine system and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (8, 9). If that’s too sciency think about it like this: adaptogens can promote the recovery of each system, and even produce a positive stress response if that is what the body needs (9)! When in doubt herbal teas can help calm nerves. For example:
- Moringa: This adaptogen can be stimulating or relaxing, qualities which act according to the body’s needs. Earthy and energizing, Moringa can be used in place of coffee despite its caffeine-free status (8). To learn more, check out Moringa: The Energizing, Caffeine-Free Matcha Alternative.
Tulsi: As an adaptogenic tea, Tulsi is a good choice for those seeking balance and calm. Tulsi works in a unique and special way: it starts with mildly stimulating effects, but then evokes a restorative and calming state for the nervous system. Tulsi is also a good herb for mental clarity (10). In fact, there’s evidence that it can reduce stress physically and psychologically (11).
If you’re into Ayurveda , the traditional medicine system of India, Tulsi opens the mind and heart (12). Now we are science focused here but it’s fun to share origins about our teas too. The Founders discovered tulsi for themselves while spending a year in India. What’s not to love?! Tulsi Holy Basil: An Ancient Tea for Modern Times will offer more information and sources for you to learn more.
- Chamomile: Last but not the least, this tea is calming, good for anxiety, and can ease frazzled nerves (13). Let chamomile ease your nerves and get you settled. It is particularly wonderful at night as a sleepy-time tea, and is a famous tea for easing tummy upset. More below!
Who doesn't envy cats their ability to sleep anywhere?
What are the Best Teas for Quality Sleep?
It’s very easy to say you are going to get more sleep in 2021. But when you are stressed, and time is fleeting, what will hold you accountable? To help this restful resolution, these are my pick for the best teas for sleep.
Chamomile is largely known as a sedative (13), with natural properties that promote restfulness and drowsiness, as well as calming the nerves. Chamomile and lemongrass together are especially good for sleep. For a blend of these two marvels, try Citrus Beauty Lemongrass Chamomile - before I’ve finished my cup, I feel my eyelids growing heavy! Chamomile is definitely the tea for sleep problems. Combined with lemongrass with its demonstrated ability to increase sleep time(14), overall sleep effects are increased. A dynamic duo that will keep you well rested and improve your quality of sleep.
For more information on Chamomile, read my spotlight Why Is Chamomile Calming? So Much More Than a Sleep Tea (Part 1)
While Tulsi is known as an adaptogen and can provide energy, though a secondary action it can actually improve sleep quality (10). I recommend Deep Breath Rooibos Tulsi for a tasty caffeine-free unusual blend as a new sleep tea, especially as the rooibos helps with relaxation.
For a larger range of bedtime teas check out our decaf & sleep collection. These teas are all completely caffeine free, and some of them are particularly calming and are a great addition to your bedtime routine.
What are the Best Teas for Focus and Energy?
One of the precursors to achievement is having impeccable focus. Many people grab their usual cup o’ joe to start the day hoping it’ll kick start their mind. But coffee comes with jitters and caffeine crashes, and a small window of concentration. To understand the differences between coffee and tea, and the body's response, consider our blog: Caffeine in Coffee and Tea: All You Need to Know.
As for the best teas for focusing, here are some suggestions that you’ll love!
Green teas for focus
Coffee gets the brain moving but does so with great excitability. Green and white teas contain L-theanine, a special amino acid that improves cognition and focus while simultaneously decreasing over-excitability. The result is a relaxed state of alertness, which is the perfect recipe for achieving goals (15). For more information on white teas and further references, my spotlight White Tea: An In-Depth Introduction to this Elegant Tea is helpful.
In one study, stressed participants received L-theanine and saw improvements in their cognitive performance (15). Another study found that tea drinkers had formed more efficient connections in the brain (16). What's more, the phytochemicals in green tea were found to improve both mood and cognition (17).
With all that goodness and demonstrated success brew a cup of green tea and get working!
Coffee alternatives for energy and focus
Yerba Mate is an earthy tea with a caffeine content nearly equivalent to coffee - as in, a lot! However, the combination of small amounts of theophylline and theobromine act to prevent the jitters associated with coffee. They also relax the muscles and soothe the stomach (7).
Yerba Mate is a great way to start your day alert and with purpose. For more information, my Yerba Mate Tea: What is it and why is everyone talking about it? is a great resource.
Yerba, green tea and white tea are all full to the brim with antioxidants. The benefits of these range from scavenging free radicals, to reducing inflammation, and promoting relaxation and restoration (7, 18, 19, 20). To learn more about antioxidants, tune in to my antioxidants series.
A Note From the Herbalist
Happy New Year, everyone! I’m really hoping for a great 2021 for all of us - we need it! In the meanwhile, check out some of these teas for your New Year’s goals:
- I use Citrus Beauty Lemongrass Chamomile religiously. It’s one of my favorite evening drinks; it helps me relax and sleep.
- I like to add Moringa to my green smoothies, especially before exercising. Check out the Moringa Powder Vegan Protein Shake I made below.
- Drinking green teas with meals helps increase feelings of satiety (although don't overdo it as 'true' tea can also reduce iron absorption when paired with food). One of my favorites is Sweet Jasmine Organic Green Tea, as it's a great alcohol substitute at dinner, addresses sweet cravings and helps focus. I’m actually sipping on a cup as I write.
With all these tea solutions in mind, I hope your resolutions for a healthy, fit, mindful 2021 are easier. What’s more, I have some unique guides to help you out:
- For music lovers try our Best Tea + Songs Combos to Lower Stress and Boost Your Mood
- Interested in meditation? I recommend, 5 Best Meditation Apps and Teas for Anxiety, Sleep and More
- An avid reader? 5 Best Tea + Book Combos: Thrillers, Comedy, Classics and More
Have a sweet start of 2021 and let me know in the comments below what teas help with your goals and resolutions!
A moringa protein shake I made, with a drizzle of honey. So good.
Superior Organic Moringa Tea Powder
This 100% vegan complete protein (a rarity in the plant world!) is ideal for your resolutions of weight loss. Moringa works well in a smoothie, latte, cereal, and baking, so get in your daily antioxidants.
Daydream with honey, lemon, a hint of orange and Chamomile flowers in this most perfect of combinations. A natural calming and sleepy-time tea, Chamomile will help you meet your improved sleep and reduced anxiety new years resolutions!
Roasty Toasty Yerba Mate
Imagine a coffee-like roasted taste, without the bitterness or inevitable crash. This caffeinated tea will give you the focus you need to reach your goals.
Moringa: The Complete Vegan Protein
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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 & Further Reading
(1) Levey, Diana Kelly. “9 Spices That Will Fire Up Your Metabolism.” OZ, https://www.doctoroz.com/gallery/9-spices-will-fire-your-metabolism. Accessed December 2020.
(2) Julson, Erica. “Can Thermogenic Supplements Help You Burn Fat?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 24 July 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/thermogenics.
(2a) “Diet Induced Thermogenesis.” https://www.ncsf.org/pdf/ceu/diet_induced_thermogenesis.pdf. Accessed December 2020.
(3) Davis, Paul A, and Wallace Yokoyama. “Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis.” Journal of medicinal food vol. 14,9 (2011): 884-9. doi:10.1089/jmf.2010.0180
(4) MD, Casey Means, et al. “Understanding weight loss: why tracking glucose with a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) may be more insightful than tracking calories.” LEVELS, https://www.levelshealth.com/blog/glucose-weight-loss. Accessed December 2020.
(5) Dulloo, AG, et al. “Green tea and thermogenesis: interactions between catechin-polyphenols, caffeine and sympathetic activity.” International Journal of Obesity, 3 March 2000, https://www.nature.com/articles/0801101. Accessed December 2020.
(6) Gopalakrishnanb, Lakshmipriya, et al. “Moringa oleifera: A review on nutritive importance and its medicinal application.” Food Science and Human Wellness, vol. 5, no. 2, 2016, pp. 49-56. ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fshw.2016.04.001. Accessed December 2020.
Hayes, Ruthie. “Tulsi.” Herb Rally, https://www.herbrally.com/monographs/tulsi-rh. Accessed December 2020.
(7) Burris, Kellie, et al. “Composition and Bioactive Properties of Yerba Mate.” https://scielo.conicyt.cl/pdf/chiljar/v72n2/at16.pdf. Accessed December 2020.
(8) Goop. “An Herbalist on the Healing Power of Adaptogens.” Goop, https://goop.com/wellness/health/an-herbalist-on-the-healing-power-of-adaptogens/. Accessed December 2020.
(9) Liao, Lian-ying, et al. “A preliminary review of studies on adaptogens: comparison of their bioactivity in TCM with that of ginseng-like herbs used worldwide.” NCBI, 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6240259/. Accessed December 2020.
(10) Gopalakrishnanb, Lakshmipriya, et al. “Moringa oleifera: A review on nutritive importance and its medicinal application.” Food Science and Human Wellness, vol. 5, no. 2, 2016, pp. 49-56. ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fshw.2016.04.001. Accessed December 2020.
Hayes, Ruthie. “Tulsi.” Herb Rally, https://www.herbrally.com/monographs/tulsi-rh. Accessed December 2020.
(11) Cohen, Mark Maurice. “Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons.” NCBI, October-December 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296439/. Accessed December 2020.
(12) Soule, Deb. “Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.” Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners, https://www.mofga.org/Publications/The-Maine-Organic-Farmer-Gardener/Fall-2004/Sacred-Basil. Accessed December 2020.
(13) Srivastava, Janmejai K., et al. “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.” NCBI, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/. Accessed December 2020.
(14) Blanco MM;Costa CA;Freire AO;Santos JG;Costa M; “Neurobehavioral Effect of Essential Oil of Cymbopogon Citratus in Mice.” Phytomedicine : International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17561386/.
(15) Hidese, Shinsuke, et al. “Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 3 Oct. 2019, www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/10/2362/htm.
(16) “Drinking Tea Improves Brain Health, Study Suggests.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 12 Sept. 2019, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190912100945.htm.
(17) C, Dietz; Dekker, M. “Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition.” Current Pharmaceutical Design, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28056735/.
(18) Nutrient Data Laboratory, et al. “USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods.” January 2007, p. 131, https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80400525/Data/Flav/Flav02-1.pdf. Accessed December 2020.
(19) Kosińska, Agnieszka, and Wilfried Andlauer. “Antioxidant Capacity of Tea: Effect of Processing and Storage.” Chapter 12, https://www.hevs.ch/media/document/0/antioxidantcapacityoftea.pdf. Accessed December 2020.
(20) Almajano, M. Pilar, et al. Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activities of Tea Infusions. 22 Oct. 2007, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814607010631.