Spot of Tea for Stress

By Melaina Juntti

When the going gets tough, the tough get brewing, a notion legions of tea-loving Brits have subscribed to for centuries. Now, a City University of London study shows that putting a kettle on the stove and sipping tea in times of crisis or unrest can reduce stress—and even make you feel calmer than before the trauma. After subjects completed timed, stress-inducing tests, researchers gave one group half a cup of English breakfast tea and the other group water. While the water drinkers’ anxiety shot up 25 percent in response to the quiz, the tea sippers’ stress decreased 4 percent from pre-test levels. But the scientists don’t attribute these results to tea’s soothing compounds—such as the anxiety-easing amino acid L-theanine—they believe the ritual’s comforting, cultural familiarity soothes rattled minds. Plus, because Brits are so accustomed to reaching for tea, many associate warm cupfuls with calming situations such as a caring mum putting on a kettle. So next time you’ve sparred with your sister or spent hours in traffic, channel the Brits and brew up a cup.