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Tea Cup and Saucer


Tea As Comfort

A Healing elixir

A cold day. A rainy day. A late night. A bad breakup. A long day of work. No matter what it is, chances are you or loved one soothed their wound or vexations with a hot drink.

Maybe some go for hot chocolate, others coffee, but the rest of us choose tea. Tea among all the wonderful health benefits it has is also a form of comfort. It's hard to imagine tea somehow continuing to be more and more beneficial to people. It's already a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, nutrients, minerals, tannins, amino acids, and polyphenols. Not to mention it tastes and smells amazing. And yet here we are with even more benefits tea has to offer us. So not only does tea provide us caffeine, L-theanine, antioxidants, amino acids, several health-promoting, and longevity boosting benefits, but it is also a superb source of comfort, too. And just like tea’s health benefits being supported by science and expert inquiry, so too have tea’s comfort inducing abilities been put under the expert's lenses.

It comes down to a few special things that make tea such a comforting and solace-producing beverage. But what are those special traits that tea possesses that it is so ideal as a source of comfort? Some say it is the caffeine, others the L-theanine, while some also say it must be the brewing process. Yet others still insist it must be cultural. In truth, it is probably a mix of one or more of these things, but we will see each one so that we can understand tea’s comforting powers more minutely. Let's learn more about tea as a mode of comfort.

Tea’s caffeine as a source of comfort

This one, caffeine, has a dual reason for adding to feelings of comfort when we enjoy a cup of tea. One, the more cynical sounding of the two comes from the fact that caffeine is addicting! Tea or at least tea from the true tea family or tea blends using tea from the true tea family contain caffeine. If we enjoy caffeine every day then we will develop an addiction and a dependence on caffeine! Don’t fear as this addiction is relatively harmless of course but certainly, the extra dose of caffeine may also make us happy if we haven't had some in a while. So, tea can be comforting by giving us a caffeine "fix"!

But on a less cynical, and more chemical note caffeine also naturally makes us more sensitive to dopamine. Dopamine is another naturally occurring chemical our brains produce and is associated with feelings of happiness, joy, and bliss. No wonder we feel on top of the world after a great cup of tea. This may also be why tea is so comforting. No matter if one's down from an ailment, a relationship gone awry, or a botched presentation at work, the way caffeine affects our sensitivity to dopamine leads to a happier mood after a cuppa. Not only that but the true tea families contain a compound called theobromine, too. Theobromine is like caffeine and is also found in chocolate and coffee. Theobromine gives us that happy and joyful feeling we experience like when we bite into a totally scrumptious chocolate bar. In a way, these may all work in tandem to help make tea more comforting for us. But certainly, they can't soothe our minds, bodies, and spirits quite as effectively if it wasn't for...


Though we mentioned other compounds found in tea like theobromine and caffeine, another one that is of utmost importance and distinct to the true tea family, too is L-theanine. Why is L-theanine so special? L-theanine is the amino acid that gives tea its special powers of calming, soothing, and tranquility after enjoying a cup. This also helps to balance out the otherwise intense jittery feelings from caffeine. The L-theanine’s soothing powers may help contribute to tea’s comforting nature.

The brewing ritual

It is no wonder that tea brewing rituals have existed for thousands of years. The first tea brewers most likely came from Southeast Asia and the Yunnan region of China. If mythology is to be believed then all tea culture comes from the legendary emperor, Shennong. Tea was originally boiled in big cauldrons and used for medicine or food. But there was probably some ritual or at least social aspect to these early tea masters' methods of brewing.

Tea culture would be passed down for another thousand or so years until Buddhism reached China. This is significant because tea brewing rituals would be perfected in those places of utmost tranquility and calm, Buddhist temples! For anyone who has experienced a tea ceremony, in a Buddhist temple or performed in a less religious but no less formal setting can attest to the comforting feelings they experienced during and after said ceremony! But, unless we are monks, most of us typically enjoy tea brewed in a bit of a different setting than a serene mountain monastery on a misty and abundantly vegetated mountain peak.

The ritual can without a doubt be a more secular affair while being no less special and comforting. A ritual may be nostalgic, like making tea the way one's parents or grandparents did. The comfort can come from the warm feelings and memories tea made their way can remind us of.

Or the ritual can be a social activity, too. Say when the family or close friends brew together, have a chat, maybe talk out their feelings which can lead to feelings of comfort. Or talk about other things to get the sad or hurt person's mind off whatever is upsetting them, and thus offer comfort that way. Or simply by just allowing people who care for us to, well, care for our well-being! Certainly, knowing one is loved and cared for is comforting. And a tea brewing session is just the lightning rod for that type of comforting realization. The comforting powers of a great support network doing a relaxing activity that can ease stress are also great sources of healing and joy.

Is it cultural?

Tea’s comforting nature may be cultural. Or it may just be universal. Certainly, in Britain and other countries where British tea culture has left a lasting imprint may view tea as a comfort beverage. Something part of daily life but no less desired when one is feeling a cold coming on or had a lousy day of class.

However, the comfort of a warm beverage has a presence outside of British tea cultural zones, too. Most notably in that place often considered the opposite of British tea culture, the United States of America! In other places, the USA included, a warm cup of tea, though it may be an herbal tea like chamomile or ginger rather than a typical English black tea, is also offered to give comfort or brewed to attain comfort for oneself.

So, is tea’s comforting nature merely a cultural phenomenon? Yes and no. While places with a strong tea culture may view tea to attain comfort, places that often prefer other drinks, like the Americans and their love of coffee, will still seek out tea when they are under the weather or feeling down.

Tea as comfort

In the world of beverages, there are few drinks out there that could offer comfort and solace quite like tea does. Whenever you or a friend, family member, or loved one seems to be feeling sick or feeling a little blue, why not brew them a cup of tea? You may just cure their sad state and offer them some well-deserved comfort and joy!

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