In Chinese medicine, tea is said to produce “relaxed alertness.” A cup of black tea contains about half the caffeine of a cup of coffee. But drink two cups of black tea, and you feel less of a buzz than you would from one cup of coffee. That’s because tea also contains the calming compound L-theanine. British researchers gave 75 men either tea or a caffeinated beverage with the same amount of caffeine. Compared with those drinking the other beverage, the tea drinkers reported feeling less stressed and more relaxed. —Michael Castleman
Buddhists traditionally drank tea during meditation. In the 12th century, the Japanese combined Buddhist beliefs and tea drinking into a ceremony of spiritual rejuvenation and universal harmony: The Japanese Tea Ceremony still is practiced today.
Rooibos, a traditional South African beverage made from Aspalathus linearis, tastes much like black tea but contains no caffeine and is low in tannins. The reddish brew is rich in vitamin C, minerals and a potent antioxidant called aspalathin that is found only in rooibos.
Soothe an aching stomach with peppermint (Mentha xpiperita) tea. Peppermint has the power to calm intestinal muscles, relieve nausea and decrease flatulence. Refreshing and spicy in flavor, peppermint also has antiseptic and perspiration-inducing properties, making it a great choice for relieving colds, flus and fevers.
Chill out with an iced herbal tea made from beautiful, ruby-red hibiscus flowers. Rich in vitamin C, hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) has a cooling effect and tart flavor that’s ideal for cold teas. Served hot or cold, this herbal tea also could help lower blood pressure, according to recent research. (See “Fresh Clips,” September 2008.)