When is the best time to drink tea? (Hint: not early morning)

Morning Cuppa Tea

Morning tea is a daily ritual for people all around the world. So much so that it's a common first scene in many movies: a cup of tea along with the morning newspaper, the romantic scenes featuring rain and kulhad wali chai, and friends sitting around a charpoy with steaming milk teas served in glasses (think Rang De Basanti). It is quite common to sip black tea first thing in the morning or along with our breakfast as it’s a habit passed on from generation to generation. Many prefer to add milk or some spices to their teas for a strong kickstart to the day. Green tea is enjoyed by those who like the pleasant aroma and its many health benefits. The common intake is three or four cups of tea a day. However, tea habits tend to vary from person to person and can also depend on our mood and whether we have the capacity to consume that much tea! But something that doesn’t get highlighted is the ideal time to drink tea.


What’s in a Cup of Tea

A vast majority of coffee drinkers know what gives them the kick is the caffeine. However, not many tea drinkers are aware that even teas contain caffeine! Based on how teas are cultivated and processed, the caffeine content in tea varies. Black tea and matcha tea have the highest caffeine levels and this tapers off towards medium for green tea and lower still for oolong tea. Herbal teas or tisanes, on the other hand, have zero caffeine in them since they aren’t made from the Camellia sinensis plant, from which all other teas are cultivated. So, why are we talking about tea cultivation and caffeine? Because caffeine has a peculiar effect on our body and minds and depending on how much tea or coffee we consume, influences our health!


When to Drink Tea

Caffeine by itself isn’t the villain! It’s got a variety of benefits, including boosting memory, concentration and attention, and keeping you energetic. However, caffeine stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid in our stomach lining, basically the acids that help digest our food. Drinking coffee or tea with high caffeine levels on an empty stomach leads to queasiness or nausea. In some people, too much caffeine causes heartburn, irritability, jittery hands, and rapid heart beats. That’s why, health experts suggest avoiding both these beverages first thing in the morning or on an empty stomach. The best time to drink tea is an hour after breakfast or lunch, or in the evening along with some snacks. Nutritionists suggest alternatives like juice (without sugar), water infused with herbs, honey or lemon, or just plain warm water first thing in the morning to help kickstart your day. Please consult your doctor about the ideal time to have tea or coffee if you are on any medications.


Savouring A Cup of Tea

You can enjoy 2-4 cups of tea (green, oolong, rooibos and herbal) throughout the day without worrying about the caffeine levels, because a cup of tea still has only half the amount of caffeine than you would find in a cup of coffee. If you long for a hot cup of tea after your evening meal, herbal blends are also a good bet. Tisane blends with chamomile, lavender, or lemongrass help you unwind after a long day at work, help promote a better night’s rest and also in rejuvenating your senses (mood enhancing teas for the win!).


Teas That are Best for Workouts

Teas like matcha, ayurvedic chai, or iced teas, consumed especially during the summer months, help replenish lost fluids and electrolytes. The flavours and aromas of teas also act as wonderful stress busters; so if you have a tough session at the gym or you want to unwind after your Zumba class, a cup of tea can help boost your energy during the workout as well as help you recharge after. Being mindful around tea consumption not only allows you to reap its health benefits but also savour a cup of tea in the moment. So, the next time you find yourself wondering if it’s tea o’clock yet, just make sure you are well fed.

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