Take a breather from studying with a warm cup of tea
Everyone knows that one of the best ways to calm down after a stressful day is sitting down with a nice, hot cup of tea.
But is this scientifically proven? What exactly is it that makes tea so relaxing?
In “The Green Tea Book,” chemist Lester A. Mitscher and health writer Victoria Toews said that the amino acid theanine is the reason behind green tea’s relaxing effects.
The Explore Integrative Medicine website talks about several other teas that are known to have soothing effects.
Chamomile, which is commonly known as a tea to drink before bed, is often used to relieve stress-induced symptoms such as insomnia.
Mint is also found to be a relaxing herb in many teas. The Medical News Today website states that mint has one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any food, so there are many health-related benefits to enjoying mint in a cup of tea.
Barley tea has been proved effective for relaxation, due to the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is vital for synthesizing serotonin, a neurotransmitter which regulates sleep and temperament.
Passionflower can treat sleep disorders, nervous tension, and anxiety. A recent study discovered that passionflower is as effective as oxazepam - a prescribed anxiolytic drug - in treating patients with anxiety disorders.
Valerian root is also used for treating anxiety and insomnia. The WebMD website says that valerian serves as a sedative for the brain and nervous system, thereby effective in alleviating psychological stress.
Theanine has a de-stressing effect because it crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Once there it is able to block the stimulating effects of caffeine.
According to August Wald in his book “Green Tea Health with Matcha Recipes,” theanine also improves one’s focus and intention by boosting blood flow to certain areas of the brain, which increases one’s ability to work productively.
Anna Balcarcel, employee at the Biggby Coffee on Grand River Avenue, said she often suggests their green tea to students who seem stressed or have a cold.
“I’ve seen a bunch of students come in here that will get our green tea,” Balcarcel said.
She said tea in general is soothing because the hot water helps to calm the mind.
In fact, it’s not just green tea that helps relieve stress.
According to the European Food Information Council website, new scientific evidence reveals black tea to have a positive effect on stress hormone levels.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, discovered that those who drank black tea were able to de-stress faster than those who drank a tea substitute.
Additionally, participants who drank black tea were found to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a stressful event.
Of course, green and black teas are not the only kinds that will help alleviate stress.
Biomedical laboratory science junior Kristen Reister, an employee at Starbucks on Grand River Avenue, said just the scent of tea helps to soothe her nerves.
“It’s warm, and it’s good to cozy up with,” Reister said. “I drink it pretty regularly, and I usually do it while I’m doing homework.”
She said the placement of Starbucks all over campus really helps students have easy access to tea when the stress from classes starts taking its toll.
No matter which tea suits one’s taste, MSU students are sure to benefit from the stress-relieving antioxidants and amino acids found in various teas.
Nursing junior Jessica Harris said she thinks people have preconceived notions that tea is relaxing, including herself.
For Harris, coffee means productivity and tea means relaxation.
“It’s a self-fulfilling sort of thing, because we believe tea to be relaxing, it is,” Harris said.