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Teas to pick you up, to soothe your stomach and to help you sleep!

By Christine Pope

A cup of tea in the morning is one of life’s relaxing moments and it can set the tone for the whole day. The herbs used in tea can be stimulating, therapeutic or relaxing. So which teas are right for you and your state through the day.

In the morning we often reach for a black tea as it has the benefit of a little more caffeine which can just gently give you a little boost for the day.

White, oolong, green tea and black teas are all in the green tea family, the difference is in the degree of fermentation. Black tea is fermented and has a higher amount of caffeine as a result, but all of this family have a high level of polyphenols. Fermentation increases the caffeine content so black tea has about 48mg per cup whereas green tea has around 28mg and white tea can be as low as 15mg. Loose teas will generally have lower caffeine than the crushed leaves in teabags. It also gives a better flavour than most teabags.

Due to the caffeine content if you do have trouble sleeping its usually best to avoid green or black tea later in the day, or at least nine to ten hours before you plan to go to bed. Caffeine is usually cleared from the body relatively quickly, typically the half life for clearance is five hours with full clearance taking up to ten hours. For those who are more sensitive to caffeine it’s a good idea to keep the quantity down to a maximum of two cups daily and allow time to eliminate the caffeine from your system before bed.

In the afternoon or for those who are sensitive to caffeine it’s ideal to look at herbal teas.

Making your own teas can be a worthwhile option and there are some which make a lovely flavoursome tea to soothe the stomach. Peppermint can be made at home by crushing and steeping peppermint leaves in hot water. Peppermint may relax smooth muscles and can reduce IBS symptoms. Peppermint is also used in a combination for colds and flu called YEP tea, yarrow, elderberry and peppermint. Peppermint in this combination is thought to soothe the cough reflex.

Ginger is particularly known for anti-nausea effects and is often helpful for nausea associated with chemotherapy or pregnancy nausea. Ginger tea can be made by simply slicing up fresh ginger and steeping it for five to ten minutes. Ginger is also useful as a mild circulatory stimulant, boosting blood flow and can be a useful addition to a tea blend to help improve absorption of the other ingredients.

Another useful option for coughs and colds is a lemon, garlic and manuka honey tea. Bring to the boil an organic lemon (quartered) in 2 litres of water with either 5 cloves of garlic or a small knob of ginger and simmer for twenty minutes with the lid on. Serve with a teaspoon of good quality manuka honey.  It is recommended that you simmer with the lid on as the limonene in the lemon peel will be kept within the tea.

There are a number of herbs which are good for those who have trouble sleeping. Three useful options are passionflower, lavender and chamomile. Passionflower is believed to increase GABA, a neurotransmitter which is calming and may reduce anxiety.  Lavender improves sleep quality and may reduce night time wakings. Chamomile is a gentle nervine in that it is calming and it may also have a beneficial impact on blood sugar levels as it lowers blood glucose levels. Many people find that they get to sleep easier and have better quality sleep with chamomile tea later in the day. Personally chamomile is one of my favourites for that late afternoon slump as it seems to be both calming and energising.

It can be fun to try different herbal teas and even make up your own combinations. One of my current favourites is white tea with rose petals. It has a softer flavour than green tea and the rose petals give it a lovely colour and a dose of Vitamin C. Green tea blends well with other flavours and some good options can be green tea with lime or quince. Green tea is high in polyphenols and specifically epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has shown to be beneficial for assisting with inflammation and chronic diseases. Wherever possible try and use an organic green tea if you are drinking it for its health benefits.

For those who would like to try some new tea options some of my favourite online sources for herbal teas are Austral Herbs for the individual components or Mrs Oldbucks in Berrima for a range of pre made teas.

Many commercial teas will blend four to five herbs for a therapeutic benefit so if you find making your own tea too much effort its worth looking at some of the gorgeous blends made by naturopaths. Gaia botanica ( ) , Apotheca by Anthia ( ) and Mim Beim ( are all worth trying. Mim Beim’s GLOW tea is a lovely blend for those who have issues with fluid retention and her Nighty Nite tea is also quite popular.

More about the author

Christine Pope

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist who drinks way too much tea! Christine is based in her clinic at Elemental Health at St Ives and is also available online through her Ageing Outrageously program.