The simple act of holding a warm mug can be healing, but the benefits multiply when you sip teas blended for greater calm and better sleep.

Herbal tea

Photo © Kimberly Sanders Peck, excerpted from Body into Balance

Stress – personal and global – can take its toll on our bodies and minds. For many, the New Year offers an opportunity to reset and reintroduce healthy habits. One of the simplest ways to infuse peace and wellness into your daily routine is to create a daily tea habit. Regardless of the herbs you steep in your tea, researchers have found that simply holding a warm mug gives you a more generous, kind soul and improves your perception of others. Good vibes matter, too. In one study, those who drank tea “treated” with good intentions from Buddhist monks had greater mood benefits than those who drank tea made from the same exact ingredients but without the “treatment.”

The act of brewing a cup of tea from loose herbs gives the sense of self care, empowerment, and can be an act of meditation and reflection. You can take this a step further by using herbs that support a calm mood, reduced stress response, and better sleep.

Consider growing your own herbs this year, and purchase from good quality, organic herb suppliers, particularly small-scale, local farms. Almost of the herbs in the blends suggested here can be grown in the United States. For green tea, seek recently-harvested tea from fair-trade and organic sources; green tea gets fishy when it’s old. Grow your own skullcap or purchase from organic farms that grow their own; this plant — while very safe in and of itself — is unfortunately often adulterated with liver-toxic herbs in commerce.

Tulsi & Friends

Tulsi, or holy basil (Ocimum sanctum, syn. O. tenuiflorum) is a delicious, delightful aromatic herb with adaptogenic (stress-relieving), calming, and gently energizing properties. It also helps lower blood sugar, stress-related sugar cravings, decreases inflammation, and improves cognition and immune function. The “kapoor” variety is easy to grow and harvest in abundance in the garden (some seed companies don’t specify the variety; these are usually kapoor). Holy basil is great on its own but can also be blended with other herbs to focus its action and change the flavor. When steeping holy basil, give it at least 5 minutes, but you could let it steep for much longer and still have a great cup of tea. For the following blends, use approximately 1 teaspoon of each herb.

Tulsi with Jasmine Green Tea (Camellia sinensis), Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica), and Mint (Mentha spp.): for an energy and cognition boost with decreased inflammation

Tulsi with Rose Petals (Rosa spp.): to calm and gladden the heart, lift spirits, and ease grief

Tulsi with Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): to gladden the heart, lift spirits, and promote a calm-alert mind

Maria’s Sleep Tea

This is an amazingly effective sedative tea that also tastes good. Brew it strong and in smaller servings so you get the effects without having to pee in the middle of the night. Lemon balm is a mildly calming and uplifting herb whereas passionflower and skullcap are more potent sedatives. Spearmint and honey perk up the flavor.

Maria’s Sleep Tea

Ingredients

  • ½ teaspoon passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
  • ½ teaspoon skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
  • ½ teaspoon lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • ½ teaspoon spearmint (Mentha spicata)
  • Honey to taste

Directions

  1. In a small teacup, cover the herbs with 4 to 6 ounces of hot water. Let steep 20 minutes, strain, and sweeten to taste.

Sleep Tea recipe excerpted from Body into Balance © 2016 by Maria Noël Groves. Passion flower illustration © Narda Lebo. All rights reserved.

Maria Noel Groves

Maria Noël Groves is an herbal practitioner, teacher, columnist for Remedies magazine, columnist and health editor for Herb Quarterly magazine and the former editor of… See Bio

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Body into Balance

by Maria Noel Groves

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