Apart from the rituals related to tea and the endless varieties available, a cup of tea has a unique power all of its own, making us feel better just by thinking about it. It’s not only about tea and sympathy.
The Contrast Between Tea & Coffee
It seems that most people rely on coffee for a surge of energy while others reach for a cup of tea when they want to wind down after a long day. There’s a difference between the motives behind drinking a cup of coffee and a cup of tea.
Coffee drinkers will tell you that they can’t start the day without their fix of caffeine to get the heart pumping. The funny thing is, tea also has caffeine, but tea drinkers often have a different attitude towards their brew.
While both will say they don’t come to life until that first cup hits their lips, the physical compulsions and psychological implications can be wildly different.
You might’ve heard a tea sipper say that they’re “gasping” for a cup of tea, in order to soothe frazzled nerves, while a coffee drinker relies on their cup of java to jolt them out of a tired funk.
The Truth in Old Wives’ Tales about Tea
Following the idea of “whatever works” – the ritual of preparing and drinking a cup of tea is a way of programming the mind; getting it ready to relax by taking the steps that signal a rewarding experience.
Since ancient times, our ancestors have known that being present in the moment allows us to deflect unnecessary worries, while paying attention to detail helps hone our skills and gives a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.
More Ways that Tea helps us Psychologically
- During stressful times or after a long, hard day
- When you’re run down or dealing with that time of the month
- Any time you feel sad or need a boost
- On a rainy day, snuggled up with a good book
- Conversations and connecting with family, friends or colleagues
While coffee drinkers might argue that the above is the same for them, it could be said that coffee is more stimulating, while tea soothes and comforts.
Tea can Help with Battling the Blues
Studies have shown that drinking tea can put a relieved smile on your face and can even help with battling depression. Tea sippers might be happy to learn that the more you drink, the less depressed you will be, according to research conducted in China, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan.
Of course, there’s the association between healthy living and drinking either black or green tea, however, the conclusions state that tea consumption appears to be a proactive, independent factor regarding depression.
With few adverse effects and the fact that tea is usually inexpensive, it’s a positive choice for those who deal with the blues.
Other Psychological Aspects
Tea enthusiasts truly enjoy the whole experience of drinking tea, including the accessories and rituals associated with it. Collections of tea cups and mugs, strainers, teapots, canisters and boxes brimming with regular or herbal teas can make a tea lover just as happy as a kid in a candy store.
And speaking of children, many women (and some men) can remember the excitement of getting a toy tea set as a gift, or having princess tea parties.
Setting up tea parties with their dolls, teddies or other friends might have paved the way for true appreciation of tea as a ritual, which can brings friends together or allows for a moment of quiet contemplation.
Studies also show that choosing hot drinks makes us feel cozy and friendly. An experiment was conducted by US researchers who asked people to rate strangers while holding hot or cold drinks.
The participants rated the strangers higher in terms of trustworthiness when holding a warm cup, while a cold cup had the opposite effect.
Tea and Memory
Researchers at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England have discovered that black and green tea helps with improving memory. There are compounds in the leaves which apparently block the chemicals in the brain associated with memory loss.
Another amazing claim states that, apart from having antioxidant properties, tea can block an enzyme which breaks down a neurotransmitter (acetylcholine) in the brain that’s involved with sexuality, aggression and wakefulness, to name a few.
When this neurotransmitter is depleted, it can also result in conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Not only does tea boost levels of acetylcholine, it also blocks other substances that affect the brains of those suffering with Alzheimer’s, so increasing your intake of tea might be a way to prevent memory loss and other associated diseases.
The flavonoids found in black and green teas can also help reduce oxidative stress, which is the damage caused by free radicals, affecting brain function.
For some of us, even hearing someone say “I’ll put the kettle on” gives us a warm feeling. Wrapping your cold hands around a cup of hot tea on a chilly day is a lovely way to fight off the winter blues.
Whether you like your tea hot or iced, the ceremonial practice of preparing and sharing tea is a rewarding experience that makes us feel better: literally and figuratively.