The 9 Best Teas for Stress in 2021

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Table of Contents Best tea for stress overallChamomileWhat we likeWhat to look out forBest to help you relaxLemon balmWhat we likeWhat to look out forBest to calm a busy mindPassionflowerWhat we likeWhat to look out forBest for stress-related anxietyTension Tamer (Celestial Seasonings)IngredientsWhat we likeWhat to look out forBest for a […]

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Has stress wound you up? Taking a time-out with a calming cup of tea can help.

Sometimes the stress of modern life can make you feel like you’re living in a pressure cooker. We’re all looking for a relief valve, and a calming cup of tea may be a good one.

A cup of tea is easy, affordable, enjoyable, and best of all, may soothe some of that stress.

Tea is a multitasker. It can help slow you down and at the same time energize and refresh. It has a long history. Legend tells us that tea drinking began more than 5,000 years ago when some tea leaves blew by chance into the Chinese emperor’s boiling water.

But with so many tea options on the market, it’s difficult to know which one to choose to help you relax and reduce any negative effects of stress. That’s where this list comes in.

Selecting our best stress-reducing teas was challenging because these herbs have different varieties, different strengths, and different effects on different people. That’s a lot of differences!

Still, calming herbs have been used for centuries. And in modern times, stress-reducing brews are still very much in demand. So, yes, there are lots of choices!

We based our picks on:

  • longtime history of use
  • research to support effectiveness
  • how reputable the brand is, with quality standards
  • supportive user reviews

Best tea for stress overall

Chamomile

This small flower in the daisy family, often called the Queen of Calm, has been used for thousands of years to lower anxiety and stress. Research suggests that the world’s population consumes more than 1 million cups of chamomile tea every day.

One of chamomile’s active ingredients is a flavonoid called apigenin. Apigenin has contributed to stress reversal, memory repair, and has an antidepressant effect in studies involving mice.

A study in 2016 showed that long-term use of chamomile significantly reduced symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). A 2015 study suggests that chamomile helped reduce depression and sleep quality problems in postpartum women.

What we like

  • Chamomile tea has a long history of effective use.
  • The tea has a beautiful yellow color.
  • Its fragrance is quite delicate.
  • This tea calms gently without making you sleepy.

What to look out for

  • If you drink chamomile tea to supplement your treatment for anxiety, it’s important to check with your doctor first.
  • Chamomile has been known to interact with some medications.
  • Doctors often advise against consuming chamomile during pregnancy.
  • People who are allergic to plants in the daisy family may react to chamomile.

Best to help you relax

Lemon balm

Lemon balm has been used since the 16th century for its mild sedative effect and pleasant lemony aroma. Even its name is calming. The word “balm” means soothing or restorative.

Lemon balm is in the mint family and widely used throughout Mediterranean, European, and Far East countries.

Lemon balm tea is often made on its own from the plant’s leaves, or mixed in with other calming herbs like passionflower and chamomile. Research suggests it’s useful when combined with treatments for anxiety and disorders of the central nervous system.

What we like

  • The tea may help ease anxiety, stress, sleep disruption, and indigestion.
  • It has a pleasant lemony fragrance.
  • Its taste is light and delicate.

What to look out for

  • While some consider lemon balm potentially safe during pregnancy, some research suggests it’s unclear. Since its safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding hasn’t been determined, it’s best to avoid it.
  • Some reactions with medications have been reported, so consider checking in with your doctor before trying.

Best to calm a busy mind

Passionflower

Passionflower makes a calming tea that’s often brewed to slow a racing mind and get a good night’s sleep.

The Passiflora incarnata variety of passionflower is used to reduce:

  • anxiety
  • menopause symptoms
  • body aches
  • cough

There are more than 550 varieties of Passiflora. Native people of the Americas used it as an herbal remedy, and Spanish explorers in the 16th century took the plant to Europe. It has been cultivated there and is widely used for its calming properties.

What we like

  • The tea calms down both your mind and body.
  • It has a long history as an herbal remedy.
  • It may help you get to sleep — and stay asleep.

What to look out for

  • Passionflower is known to cause uterine contractions and should be avoided when pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Interactions have also been reported with some foods and prescription medications.
  • It’s not recommended to try harvesting your own passionflower for tea because some varieties can be toxic.

Best for stress-related anxiety

Tension Tamer (Celestial Seasonings)

Tension Tamer tea by Celestial Seasonings is a blend based on eleuthero, an ancient herb believed to evoke calm. It’s combined with a variety of mint and other herbs for an uplifting yet restorative tea.

Hops, another ingredient in Tension Tamer tea, is also a component in beer. It’s said to increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which has a calming effect.

Tension Tamer is one of Celestial Season’s early iconic teas from the 1990s. The taste is robust, mainly minty with some spicy notes from the cinnamon and licorice. You can drink it during the day or in the evening before bed.

Ingredients

  • eleuthero
  • peppermint
  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • chamomile
  • lemongrass
  • licorice
  • catnip
  • tilia flowers
  • natural lemon flavor with other natural flavors
  • hops
  • vitamins B6 and B12

What we like

  • The tea may help take the edge off stress without making you drowsy.
  • It has a complex taste, combining mint and spices.
  • Celestial Season is a quality company and has made this popular blend for three decades.

What to look out for

  • This blend contains two unusual ingredients: hops and eleuthero ginseng.
  • It’s highly advisable to check with your doctor before consuming the tea during pregnancy.
  • The robust, spicy taste may be a tad strong for some, though you can try brewing it light by steeping it for shorter than the box recommends.

Best for a time-out

Honey Lavender Stress Relief (Yogi Tea)

It’s mid-afternoon and you’ve been going nonstop since you got up. You’ve got a slight headache coming on and a full evening ahead of you. Maybe it’s time to press the pause button and try a cup of this tea.

It’s got a complex taste that makes you find something different in every sip. Plus, it tastes different as it cools down. You can spend a good 15 minutes or more just drinking this tea and not get bored. It’s an invitation to mindfulness in a teacup.

It may also slow you way down, so by the bottom of your cup you might be ready to push your start button again.

Ingredients

  • rooibos leaf
  • organic chamomile flower
  • organic lemon balm leaf
  • organic spearmint leaf
  • organic lemongrass
  • organic lavender flower
  • organic peppermint leaf
  • organic lemon myrtle leaf
  • organic sage leaf
  • passionflower plant extract
  • natural honey flavor
  • organic lavender flavor
  • stevia leaf
  • natural vanilla flavor

What we like

  • The tea has a complex flavor and tastes good hot or cold.
  • It offers a strong relaxing effect.
  • It contains a wide variety of relaxing herbs.
  • Most ingredients are organic.

What to look out for

  • There’s a strong earthy aroma to the teabag and hot tea when you first brew it. It’s a kind of grassy fragrance that diminishes as the tea cools.
  • This is a strong tasting tea, which we love — but it may take you a couple of cups to get accustomed to it. You may wish to try a lightly brewed cup the first time around by steeping it for a shorter time than the box recommends.

Best to help you sleep

Valerian

Valerian is an herb that’s been used as a mild sedative since the times of ancient Rome and Greece. Hippocrates was reported to have used it to treat nervous disorders. Today, many people rely on it as a sleep and relaxation aid.

Valerian may also help with menstrual cramps and hot flashes during menopause. It could calm down gastrointestinal spasms and muscle aches as well. Still, research hasn’t confirmed the effectiveness of valerian for these issues.

Teas and dietary supplements are made from valerian’s roots and underground stems. It’s often combined with other herbs, such as lemon balm and passionflower, in tea blends.

What we like

  • The tea has a strong relaxing effect for sleep.
  • You can brew it weak or strong.
  • It has a long history of use around the world.

What to look out for

  • The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health points out that little is known about the safety of valerian during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Due to its strong relaxing effect, it may be best to avoid valerian if you’re pregnant.
  • It can have a strong calming effect that may leave you drowsy. It’s best not to drive a car or do any activities that require alertness.
  • Valerian shouldn’t be taken with alcohol and sedative drugs because the combined effect may be too strong.

Best calming fragrance

Lavender

Lavender has been used since medieval times for its calming effect, especially for sleep. It’s known for its distinctive floral scent and lilac color. A steaming cup of lavender tea at bedtime can help send you off to a restful night of sleep.

Lavender, especially its essential oil, has been shown to have a calming effect on the nervous system, helping ease anxiety, restlessness, and disturbed sleep. A study in 2020 suggests that lavender herbal tea may reduce depression and anxiety scores in older adults.

Its chief advantage is that it calms you down without a sedative effect.

There are more than 40 species of lavender. The English and French varieties are the most common ones used to make tea. They’re available as prepared lavender teabags, or you can buy loose lavender flowers and make your own. If you do, easy does it! Just about 1/2 teaspoon per cup will do fine.

What we like

  • The tea has a delicate floral taste and lovely lilac color.
  • Lavender tea calms without sedating.
  • It may promote restful sleep.

What to look out for

  • It’s vital not to use an essential oil to make your tea. Lavender oil should not be ingested.
  • You’ll want to ensure your tea brand uses food-grade lavender buds that haven’t been treated with pesticides or chemicals.
  • It’s best to resist going heavy on the lavender or adding an extra teabag. Your tea will be too strong, and probably bitter. It should be a lovely pale purple color.
  • If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, we strongly recommend asking your doctor about drinking lavender tea before trying it.

Best for stress-free alertness

Green tea

Green tea is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. It’s rich in phytochemicals — the substances in plants that promote overall health.

Research suggests that moderate amounts of green tea may help:

  • energize the central nervous system
  • protect against cardiovascular and neurological diseases
  • calm the mind
  • slow the aging process, especially in the skin

Green tea is high in a compound called L-theanine, which has anti-anxiety effects and may help raise your levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain associated with pleasure. This may help explain the seeming contradiction of green tea: It makes you alert, but it also cuts down on stress. Some people call it the tea of equanimity.

Green tea is made from the leaves of the same plant as black tea, Camellia sinensis. Black tea leaves are oxidized, or exposed to oxygen, whereas green tea leaves are heated to stop this process.

Green tea has also been found to be the highest of all dietary sources of catechins. Catechins are polyphenol flavonoids, plant compounds that act as antioxidants in the body. They may help protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals, which is thought to lead to aging and certain degenerative diseases.

What we like

  • It has a clean, distinctive taste.
  • Green tea has a long history of worldwide use.
  • It’s rich in phytochemicals and may help fight inflammation and stress.

What to look out for

  • Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine, estimated around 30–50 mg per 8-ounce (240-mL) cup. The amount of caffeine may depend on various factors, such as for how long it has been steeped and the water temperature.
  • It’s advisable to check with your doctor before drinking green tea during pregnancy, since it does contain some caffeine.
  • Green tea comes in many varieties and strengths. You may have to shop around until you find one to your particular liking.
  • Some research suggests that green tea is best in moderation, as large amounts may have a negative effect on health.

Best for calm refreshing taste

Peppermint

Peppermint is known for its pleasant taste and relaxation effect. Smelling the aroma seems to have as much effect as its taste. A study in 2019 showed that smelling peppermint helped reduce pain and anxiety associated with having a catheter inserted through an IV.

You can brew a cup of straight peppermint tea, or make one from the many prepared blends. You can make it hot or cold, but the essential oils are released when you steep peppermint leaves in hot water. These oils are antiviral and antimicrobial, which can strengthen your immune system and help your body fight infection.

Peppermint is a natural stress-buster. The menthol in peppermint acts as a muscle relaxant and overall calming agent. It’s also known for its ability to reduce tummy troubles and aid digestion. Many people drink a cup after a big dinner to settle their stomach.

For some people, nothing says “summer” more than a big pitcher of iced mint tea. If you harvest your own mint to make it, it’s important to know the source of the mint you use. Some mint growing in the wild can acquire toxins from the environment.

What we like

  • The tea has a bright refreshing taste.
  • It relaxes mind and body.
  • Peppermint tea may help strengthen the immune system and fight infection.
  • It may give you a natural energy boost.

What to look out for

  • Some people report heartburn and indigestion when drinking peppermint tea.
  • If you harvest your own peppermint, take care that it doesn’t contain any toxins from the environment.
  • Peppermint tea is generally considered safe to drink during pregnancy to ease tummy discomfort and morning sickness. Still, we recommend checking with your doctor first.

There are many types of teas, and steeping times and techniques can vary greatly from tea to tea and brand to brand. Plus, different people may prefer their tea a certain way — lighter or stronger, for example.

Generally speaking, to achieve a lighter brew, steep the tea for a shorter period, or — if using loose leaf tea — use less tea. If you’re looking for a stronger brew, try the opposite.

Teas that are sold in teabags, and even some loose teas often come with instructions for steeping times and water temperature. You can use these as a guideline and then experiment with longer or shorter steeping times until you find the one that gives you the best result for your personal taste.

If you want to learn more about brewing tea like an expert, check out this article.

Most of the teas recommended here are herbal. Though natural, herbs can also be very powerful. It’s always best to try a small amount first and wait to see how it affects you.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) advises you to always follow the instructions on the package and never take more than the recommended dose.

Herbs packaged and distributed in the United States are considered dietary supplements. This means they must carry a notice that the ingredients have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and aren’t meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The notice also warns that dietary supplements may be harmful if misused.

Everyone reacts differently to herbs. Also, herbal teas in the United States aren’t regulated as carefully as foods are. Especially if you order them online, it’s vital to carefully evaluate their ingredients. Sticking with reputable, well-known brands is your safest option.

Some herbs can interact negatively with medications or underlying health conditions, so it’s highly recommended that you reach out to a healthcare professional before you consume these teas if you’re:

  • pregnant or breastfeeding
  • taking any medications
  • being treated for any mental or physical health condition

Plus, it’s important to keep in mind that teas can’t replace treatments if you’ve been diagnosed with a mental health condition, though they may sometimes be used as an accompanying remedy if your treatment team thinks it’s safe.

That said, most of these herbs have a long history of use. Also, the branded blends we recommend are made by reputable companies that make many teas. You should be able to enjoy these. Just keep in mind to go slow at first, and try starting out with a small cup.

Teas during pregnancy

It’s very important to check with a medical professional about drinking teas during pregnancy. Some teas may be fine for you and the baby, but the effects of many herbs haven’t yet been fully determined, and plenty of herbal teas have the potential to be unsafe.

Some herbs may have unknown or risky effects during pregnancy.

If an herb hasn’t been declared likely safe, it’s potentially unsafe. It’s a good practice for pregnant people to avoid drinking any teas that haven’t yet been shown to be likely safe during pregnancy.

Moreover, the American College of Obstetricians Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends pregnant people limit caffeine intake to no more than 200 milligrams (mg) per day from all sources. Most of the stress-reducing teas we recommend here are herbal and don’t contain caffeine. The one exception is green tea, which contains a small amount of caffeine.

The teas recommended here contain a wealth of compounds that may lower stress and benefit your health in many other ways.

Except for green tea, all these teas are herbal. This means they’re made from water infusions of the roots, leaves, flowers, or other parts of a diverse range of plants.

Research suggests that some ingredients in a cup of herbal tea may help:

  • lift mood
  • improve focus
  • settle your tummy
  • calm your mind and body
  • lower cortisol (the stress hormone)

Herbal teas vary in their effectiveness. What calms one person down may not work for another. Or it may be too relaxing for another and make them groggy.

It’s a good idea to try these teas in small amounts first, and don’t drive or perform other activities that require alertness until you know for sure how the tea affects you.

Some experts say that the stress-lowering ability of tea comes partly from just stopping long enough to brew and sip a cup, especially if you share it with a friend. We second that notion! Slowing down for a tea break is a great first step to de-stressing.

We all know about our doctor’s recommendation to take breaks from work during the day. But how many of us take the time to do it? The thought of wrapping our hands around a warm cup of tea may provide just the motivation we need.

If your stress becomes overwhelming or chronic, you may need more help than a cup of tea can give.

Everyone needs extra help at times. If you feel stress is beginning to disrupt your daily life, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone you think can help. This may be a family member, close friend, people in your social or spiritual community, a support group, or — especially if you suspect you may be developing a health condition due to your stress — a health or mental health professional.

If you have a mental health diagnosis, the teas we recommend may be good add-ons to treatment, but they aren’t replacements.

You’ll want to consider seeking professional support if you’re having symptoms of:

It’s important to manage stress in your life. Stopping to drink a cup of tea is a good step, but there are many other ways to deal with stress. In addition, you might try:

Finding a tea for stress can seem overwhelming at first. There are so many choices.

You may wonder:

  • What tea should I look for?
  • Are herbal teas safe?
  • Will herbal teas really work?

We’ve selected nine of the best teas for stress to get you started. We recommend being the tortoise when you begin: slow and steady. Try a small amount first, and ideally check with a medical professional to make sure the teas you choose are safe in your particular circumstance.

When you drink the tea for the first few times, try paying attention to how it makes you feel. Do you need a bit more? Or maybe a bit less? Or maybe, it’s just right.

You want to feel calm but alert. When you find a tea that’s a good match for you, you’ll know. Next, maybe try another blend, or two. You’ll find different teas will help you in different situations.

Maybe soon you’ll enjoy opening your tea cupboard, getting out your favorite mug, and relaxing into a comfy chair for a few minutes of well-deserved self-care.

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