What’s an easy, no-fail way to bring your stress level way down—and maybe even put a smile on your face? If you answered “Have a cup of tea!” you’re exactly right.
Sure, you can probably find relaxation in a hot bath or a yoga class. But both are sort of time-consuming, and they’re not always easy to do in the middle of the day.
Tea has long been synonymous with enjoyment, mindfulness, and social interaction—three things that are pretty much guaranteed to make you feel good. The idea of the afternoon tea break is thought to have started in 19th-century England, when Anna the Duchess of Bedford started having tea and a small snack to tide her over until dinner (which wasn’t usually served until late). The Duchess sipped her brew solo at first, but then decided it would be more fun if she invited some friends to join her. Before long, the custom of afternoon tea as a low-stress social break had become all the rage in London.
Of course, the idea of tea as a satisfying social lubricant isn’t uniquely British. Far from it. For centuries, Japanese tea ceremonies have served as a brief moment to sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of the things around you with those that you care about. In Chinese tea ceremonies, hosts only fill cups halfway with tea, while the rest is understood to be filled with friendship and affection. And no Moroccan host would dream of having a guest into their home without offering a small glass of sweetened mint tea.
In short, tea serves as a form of self-care that can be shared with others at the same time. (Can’t usually say that about your bubble bath, can you?) And it’s becoming more of a thing right here at home. “Within the last year or so, I’ve seen a rise in tea culture in New York and California,” says Philadelphia-based tea consultant Alexis Siemons. “As we’re connecting tea to wellness, we’re creating our own American tea ritual.”
Indeed, the simple act of brewing a pot of tea and sipping the warm, sweet liquid can be intensely calming if not downright meditative. And it’s really, really simple. If you have 10 minutes, you can do it—whether you’re alone or with a friend. All you have to do is stay checked in:
Put away your phone and focus on brewing the water to the right temperature. Watch the leaves swirl as you pour the hot water into your cup. Breathe in the aromatic steam, taste the subtle flavors as you sip, and enjoy the uninterrupted peace of it all.
“It’s about water, tea, time, and being present,” Siemons says.
And while preparing and drinking any type of tea can be calming, there are some brews that boast extra stress-busting benefits. Here are 7 that are worth trying.