The best gift for Xmas? A relaxing cup of tea!
There always seems to be that one person on your Christmas list who is notoriously difficult to buy for. The type of person who has everything or who you suspect returns your gifts on Boxing Day! Or you may be struggling to choose a secret Santa gift for a co-worker.
Rather than spend on a generic gift card or items you’re unsure they’ll use, check them off your shopping list by giving them the gift of tea. Just add a few tea accessories – maybe a fancy infuser or an elegant cup and saucer – to create the perfect gift for them.
There are many varieties of tea to choose from, and while the gift receiver may have his or her favourites, you can use this as an opportunity to introduce them to something a bit new. Even better, pick a variety that promotes sleep or lessens stress.
Below are some popular choices for gift ideas – and a couple that you may not have considered!
Chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla (German chamomile) or Chamaemelum nobile (Roman chamomile), is a classic sleep and relaxation drink. It’s been used to treat insomnia and anxiety for centuries, as it is widely regarded to induce sleep and work as a mild tranquilliser1. There are limited clinical trials to back this up, but one small study did find that ten cardiac patients fell into a deep sleep that lasted 90 minutes after drinking chamomile tea.1
Chamomile tea may also be beneficial in helping other health issues, such as soothing an upset stomach, or easing cold symptoms.
Lemon Balm tea
You may already be familiar with lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). It’s an oil derived from the plant that is also an ingredient in some lip balms and could reduce swelling and redness in cold sores.2,3
A popular aromatherapy scent, studies suggest that the smell of lavender (Lavandula) helps ease insomnia, especially for women and those with milder sleep troubles. Breathing in the floral steam from a hot cup of lavender tea before bed can help lower your heart rate5 , preparing you for sleep.
California Poppy tea
Remember the scene from The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and her friends are in danger of sleeping forever after stumbling into a bewitched poppy field? This is partly based on science, as the opium extracted from poppies is a sedative6
Don’t worry though, California Poppy tea (Eschscholzia californica) won’t knock you out cold, but it can ease mild to moderate anxiety.7 Clearing your mind with a cup of this tea can help once your head hits the pillow.
English Breakfast tea
A staple in many of our homes, English Breakfast tea (or any black teas) is a popular blend of several black tea varieties. Tea drinkers anecdotally report indulging in a cuppa to de-stress after a long day, but black teas may actually help with stress recovery8. This makes a good Secret Santa present for a frazzled co-worker or boss!
Do you use any of these teas to help you sleep? Are there any other varieties you recommend? Share your favourites in the comments below!
Note: As with any vitamin or supplement, it’s important to speak with your doctor regarding possible side effects or interactions with medications that may be caused by drinking a particular tea. You may also need to stop drinking some teas leading up to surgery.
- Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. “Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.” Mol Med Report. 1 Nov 2010; 3(6): 895-901.
- Ehrlich SD. “Lemon Balm” University of Maryland Medical Center. 2 January 2015. 01 October 2015.
- Cases J, Ibarra A, Feuillere N, Roller M, Sukkar, SG. “Pilot trial of Melissa officinalis L. leaf extract in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances.” Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. December 2011; 4(3): 211-218.
- Kennedy, DO, Little W, Scholey AB. “Attenuation of Laboratory-Induced Stress in Humans After Acute Administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm).” Psychosomatic Medicine. 2004; 66:607-613.
- Chien L, Cheng LC, Liu CF. “The Effect of Lavender Aromatherapy on Autonomic Nervous System in Midlife Women with Insomnia.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012. 1-8.
- Rosso AM. “Poppy and Opium in Ancient Timse: Remedy of Narcotic?” Biomedicine International. 2010; 1: 81-87.
- Hanus M, Lafon J, Mathieu M. “Double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a fixed combination containing two plant extracts (Crataegus oxyacantha and Eschscholtzia californica) and magnesium in mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders.” Curr Med Res Opin, 2004;20:63-71.
- Steptoe A, Gibson EL, Vounonvirta R, Williams ED, Hamer M, Rycroft JA, Erusalimsky JD, Wardle, J. “The effects of tea on psychophysiological stress responsivity and post-stress recovery: a randomised double-blind trial.” Psychopharmacology. 2007; 190:81-89.