There’s a lot of comfort to be found in a cup of tea. It’s something we can sink into at the end of a long day, or enjoy a catch up with friends over. It’s the drink we can seek solace in after some bad news, or offer to others in need of support.
While it will come as no surprise to tea drinkers, science is beginning to show that tea has a number of beneficial effects for our mental health.
From lowering stress to protecting our brain, we reveal the fascinating benefits that tea has for our mental health.
The mental health benefits of tea
Lower stress levels
Find yourself reaching for a cuppa when you’re stressed? You’re not alone. Drinking tea has become synonymous with taking time for yourself. But does it really have any effect?
Well, it seems so. Research suggests that drinking black tea can actually help to lower cortisol levels - that’s the hormone our bodies release during stressful situations.
While our stress response originally evolved to help us get away from danger, our modern lives can put this response on high alert when it doesn’t need to be. From troubles at work to worries over money, it can all induce our stress response. Over time, this can have serious implications for our health, including raising our blood pressure and altering our mood.
A study by the University College London found that drinking black tea four times a day for six weeks was linked to lower cortisol levels - even after a stressful event. The results suggests that black tea can play an important role in bringing our stress hormone levels back into balance.
Reduce the likelihood of depression
A cup of tea can soothe like little else when we’re sad, and it seems that a warming cuppa may be linked to lower levels of depression too.
A study in Finland found that people who drank tea daily were less likely to be depressed. Interestingly, depression wasn’t seen in those who drank more than five cups of tea each day.
Similarly, a Korean study also saw positive results between tea and lower levels of depression. People who drank more than three cups of green tea a week were less likely to develop depression over their lifetime.
Protect your brain health
We’re all keen to safeguard the health of our brains, and it seems that drinking tea could help to ward off conditions such as dementia.
A Japanese study investigated the effects that drinking green tea had on those aged 65 and over. With over 13,600 participants in the study, the researchers concluded that drinking green tea was associated with a decreased risk of dementia.
It’s thought that the high antioxidant levels found in green tea help to provide a protective effect for our brain.
"Healing others through tea is my superpower"
One person who has tapped into the powers of tea is Angela, founder of the Tea Giver Project. The aim of the project is to donate tea to people all around the world as a tool for healing. Angela began the scheme after tea helped her cope with her own mental health struggles.
“I think that tea and mental health go hand in hand because tea is that comfort someone may be looking for,” she says. “Not everyone has someone to talk to but a cup of tea will always be available.
“Tea was my main comfort during my depression and I felt safest with a cup of tea in my hand.”
Angela hopes to continue sharing tea all around the world, and would love her project to reach frontline workers and therapists as a tool for healing.
“I was brewing tea and it was something I felt safe doing. It made me think that this is what I could give to others,” she says. “Healing others through tea is my superpower.
“I want everyone to know that tea is a healer and should very well be included in each therapy session. Working on the frontline, I know how hard it is to carve out time to take care of yourself. I want everyone to be able to take even just 10 minutes a day to enjoy a nice soothing cup of tea.”
To find out more about the Tea Giver Project, follow Angela on Instagram @theteagiverproject