Mid-January in the northern hemisphere can be pretty grim. Layer constant bad news and impending doom onto the unrelenting cold, wet weather and you may well just head back to bed for the rest of the month. But for Brits at least, a warming mug of tea can be just what the doctor ordered.
Around two million in Britain struggle with low mood throughout the darker months of the year, according to the NHS, leading to lethargy and irritability. One of the main reasons is a lack of sunlight, which is necessary for a functioning body clock and normal levels of serotonin – the so-called ‘happy hormone’.
To ward off low mood, the NHS advises keeping active, following a healthy diet, and staying warm, for example by enjoying hot drinks. This advice is welcomed by the UK Tea and Infusions Association, which (surprise, surprise) represents makers of different types of tea.
The UKTIA surveyed tea drinkers across the country and found that tea is the go-to drink at this time of year, with 58 per cent of British adults saying they drink the most tea during autumn and winter months. But with ‘dry January’ in full swing, perhaps we’re just more likely to reach for the kettle than the fridge.
The survey also found that more than a third of adults always match their type of tea to their moods.
The traditional cuppa with milk is the most popular option across all mood states, especially when people are feeling lonely, but other teas have their moments too.
Chamomile is a popular choice for de-stressing, while a zingy fruit tea is the ideal option when feeling in a good mood. The menthol hit of peppermint tea is singled out as great for motivation.
Dr Sharon Hall, Chief Executive of the UKTIA, says: “Our survey shows that Brits really appreciate a cup of regular black tea as we go through the cold, winter months. Earl Grey tea, with its zingy citrus flavours, is also popular.”
The association also claims that drinking tea can influence mood with the survey reporting that 57 per cent of people feel relaxed when they drink tea. 34 per cent say tea makes them ready for the next task. And – restrain yourselves here, Coca-Cola – 17 per cent say tea makes them feel like the ‘real me.’
Dr Sharon Hall adds: “A surprising finding from the UKTIA survey is that drinking tea directly impacts how people feel, which could be due to the enjoyment of a cuppa, the known bioactive natural compounds found in teas, or the chance to simply take time out for yourself. With a broader choice of teas available in shops and cafes, people are now able to select a tea that matches their current mood, or how they would like to feel”.
While you sip your darjeeling under the covers, you can also feel a little smug too – the carbon footprint of tea is also considerably lower than coffee. But just go easy on the milk, which ratchets up the equivalent CO2.
Maybe we should just go all-in and embrace Veganuary as well as Dry January.
Dr Hall’s recommendations for teas to match your winter experiences:
- A rainy day – English breakfast black tea
- A walk through winter leaves – Green tea
- Shopping – Chai tea
- A winter warmer – Hibiscus tea
- Duvet day – Darjeeling
- Going Dry – Ginseng tea
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