The humble brew often gets overlooked in favour of coffee, but we’ve found the best teas to energise body and mind when you need a pick-me-up F rom the cool, crisp air to the golden hues of nature, autumn can be a great time of year but, often, the cooler weather and darker evenings can leave you feeling sluggish, lacking in energy and vulnerable to colds and viruses. Don’t despair – the secret to feeling energised could be as easy as brewing a cup of tea. Make the right blend and you can give your body a therapeutic boost, whether you need focus in the morning or a zap of get-up-and-go come 3pm. As people become more health focused and aware of what they put in their bodies, the popularity of herbal and more exotic teas has sky rocketed. According to consumer analyst Mintel, sales of traditional tea have dropped six per cent, while sales of its herbal counterpart have rocketed by 31 per cent. We’ve also seen the launch of trendy tea bars and exciting new brands. Don’t fret if a tea bar hasn’t landed in your town yet – we’ve spoken to Antonia Hyltén-Cavallius of Amanzi Te a (amanzitea.co.uk), which has just opened its second branch in London’s Soho, and she’s helped us choose the best blends for every occasion. So next time you reach for a hot drink, don’t discount tea…
GET GOING IN THE MORNING WITH…. YERBA MATÉ OR MATCHA
Not a morning person? Ditch the double espresso for an energy boost equivalent to your morning coffee. ‘Yerba Maté is not actually a tea, but a South American plant high in caffeine. It’s full of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and is a great energy boost, but also enhances your ability to focus, aids digestion, increases metabolism and helps detox the body,’ explains Hyltén-Cavallius. ‘Our Daybreak tea (£5 for 50g; amanzi. co.uk), at Amanzi, is based on yerba maté, black tea and rooibos,’ explains HylténCavallius. Black tea is also relatively high in caffeine, but is known to help boost the immune system and protect against heart disease as well. Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free, but is as high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals as green tea. For people who enjoy green tea, Matcha is another ideal tea to start the day – it’s higher in caffeine than normal green tea, and packed full of antioxidants.
BUY IT: Try Bloom Sunrise Matcha (£16.99 for 30g; selfridges.com) for a similar energy boost packed with antioxidants. Whisk one teaspoon of matcha in 70-82ºC water until dissolved and frothy. It’s delicious iced or with hot milk.
BREW IT: Brew two teaspoons of yerba maté in 90-100ºC water for three to four minutes. It’s delicious with hot milk.
FACE A TOUGH TASK WITH… ROIBOOS
Beat the stress of a tough meeting or presentation with rooibos or ‘red bush’. ‘This South African plant is considered the perfect naturally caffeine-free alternative to green tea,’ says Hyltén-Cavallius. ‘Famous for its delicious malty, sweet taste, rooibos contains lots of antioxidants, known to counteract stress. Studies also show that rooibos contains compounds that may interfere with the production of the stress hormone cortisol, therefore reducing the feeling of stress and anxiety,’ she adds. Rooibos is also well known for its digestive and anti-ageing properties and positive effects on relieving allergy symptoms.
BUY IT: Try green rooibos (T2 Red Green Dreamy, £7.50 for 100g; t2tea.com) – this blend is fresh and lively with a slightly zingy taste and less oxidised than red rooibos. It’s also excellent over ice.
BREW IT: Brew two teaspoons of rooibos in 90-100° water for three to four minutes.
AID POST-LUNCH DIGESTION WITH… OOLONG
If your stomach’s playing up after lunch or you just want to boost your digestion, it might be worth trying oolong tea. ‘These teas are oxidised in between green and black teas, and are well known for boosting metabolism because of their high levels of antioxidants, as well as helping digestion,’ says Hyltén-Cavallius. ‘They can be floral and fruity or woody, deep and complex, depending on where they’re from and how they’ve been produced.’ They’re excellent as an accompaniment to seafoods such as scallops and lobster as well as duck or grilled meat. ‘At Amanzi, we love the classics, such as single-estate Wuyi or Iron Goddess, but I’d also encourage you to try a flavoured variety, such as mango or berry,’ she says. Oolong also has about 75mg less caffeine per cup than coffee.
BUY IT: Try Te a Pigs’ Tung Ting Oolong Te a (£7.50 for 75g; teapigs.co.uk) – aka ‘yoga for the mind’ or Dr Stuart’s Oolong Blend (£6.95 for 40g; drstuarts.com).
BREW IT: Brew one teaspoon of oolong in 90-100°C water for two to three minutes. If using a fruity oolong, such as mango, have it over ice before dinner.
WARD OFF THE MID-AFTERNOON SLUMP WITH… BLACK TEA
If you’ve tackled a barrage of tasks and feel a dip in energy, revitalise with black tea. All traditional-style teas come from the plant camellia sinensis, and black teas are withered then rolled, broken or cut to provoke oxidation, causing the leaves to change from green to brown. Their character ranges from light and fruity to rich, strong and robust. Most contain 90mg less caffeine than a cup of coffee.‘If you’re feeling adventurous, try Cinnamon Spice black tea – a strong black blend with three types of cinnamon, orange zest and sweet cloves that’s naturally sweet, warming and energising. ‘Cinnamon helps balance blood sugar to prevent cravings and energy slumps – it also helps fight colds as it has anti-viral properties,’ says Hyltén-Cavallius. ‘Or try Rose Earl Grey for perking up a dreary afternoon.’
BUY IT: The East India Company Cinnamon Spice Loose Te a Pouch (£10 for 100g; eicfinefoods.com)
BREW IT: Brew a teaspoon of black tea in 90-100° C water for two to three minutes
ATTACK A FUZZY BRAIN WITH… SENCHA WAKAME
You didn’t have a good night’s sleep and your brain’s past its best by late afternoon. If this sounds familiar, try a cup of sencha wakame. ‘This unique blend is a mix of classic sencha green tea, high-caffeine yerba maté, wakame seaweed and lemon grass,’ says Hyltén-Cavallius. Green tea is high in the amino acid L-theanine, which calms the mind and ensures a slow release of the caffeine in the blend so you get a more balanced and sustained energy boost. Wakame is naturally high in iodine, needed for cell metabolism and converting food into energy. It also helps balance the thyroid. Matcha improves focus. BUY IT: Try Sencha Seaweed Wakame (£4 for 50g; the gildedteapot.com) with green maté, lemon grass, and steamed green tea for a fresh, citrusy wellness brew. BREW IT: Brew one teaspoon of green tea in 70-82°C water for two to three minutes.
WIND DOWN WITH… LAVENDER CHAMOMILE
Opt for a caffeine-free mix when it gets closer to bedtime. ‘Lavender chamomile is a fragrant blend that’s great for soothing the mind and calming the body before bed,’ says Hyltén-Cavallius. ‘At Amanzi, we have two chamomile blends: “Sleep” combines calming chamomile with peppermint, which helps aid digestion for a better sleep, and lemon grass which helps detox the body by removing free radicals. “Lullaby” is designed to help children relax and combines rooibos with chamomile, sweet fennel and a touch of vanilla. It’s great with milk.’
BUY IT: Try Organic Chamomile and Lavender (£9.50 for 50g; teapalace.co.uk) or Pukka’s Night Time Blend (£1.99 for 20 bags; shoppukkaherbs.com) with oat flower, lavender, lime flower and valerian.
BREW IT: Brew two teaspoons of tea in 90-100°C water for three to four minutes.