Health Benefits of Tea

I was a mess last week with being sick.

I had a fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat and was terribly lethargic to the point where the only thing I did in the first 24 hours after getting home after my fifth 12 hour shift in a row was sleep. I woke up briefly from time to time only to sleep again. I didn’t eat anything for over 24 hours, and I barely drank anything because I was so fatigued. I did, however, manage to drink water and tea. The combination of Tylenol Cold & Sinus, my fever finally breaking at 5am, and tea were the hallmarks of an extended long weekend – along with binge watching Netflix’s You (which I highly recommend watching while slightly delirious with a fever because it makes all of Dan Humphrey’s Joe’s stalker antics hilarious instead of creepy).

Obviously I’m feeling a little bit better now as I’m able to put together sentences coherently.

The thing that I did think about when I was awake and taking in a psychological thriller is that I haven’t written about the health benefits of tea here. Now, I know we all know that tea tastes great. Of course it does, because why would we continue to grow it, produce it, lovingly store it, and drink tea if it didn’t taste great. I think I can safely say we would all drink something else if tea was disgusting (which is it not).

Tea, green tea in particular, contains polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants, which helps to neutralize oxidants (high levels of oxidants in the blood are generally considered bad, they can cause blood vessel damage and contribute to cardiovascular disease). You’ve probably heard about antioxidants in the media in the last few years in reference to “superfoods” – blueberries, acai berries, and dark chocolate are all high in antioxidants, although I don’t know anyone but me who refers to chocolate as a superfood. Polyphenols can also help with regulating blood sugar, so if you’re someone who is predisposed to developing diabetes this can be a good thing.¹

Drinking tea has also been associated with decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease – heart disease and stroke in particular, and also by improving blood cholesterol levels.¹ I think a lot of it also has to do with the fact that tea drinkers often try to have a healthier lifestyle – either by eating well or exercising. People who drink tea are often more hydrated than those who drink coffee because tea generally contains left caffeine in comparison.² For those who do not know, caffeine is a diuretic which means that it will make you lose water – but taking in more water and less caffeine as it is in tea vs. coffee means that tea drinkers are more hydrated. This also result in better weight management because you’re taking in a drink that is high in water, lower in caffeine, and with no calories (unless you’re having a tea latte).

So while you may not get that jolt of caffeine in the morning like a cup of joe might do for you, tea can be a healthy drink choice. Whatever tea you’re looking to drink – the healthiest choice is a straight tea with no added sugars. Keep it calorie free, keep yourself hydrated while lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke. But at the same time, life is all about moderation – it isn’t to say that I’m not going to have a London Fog from time to time (because that would be a lie, I love London Fogs), but it isn’t an every day sort of drink because it’s an indulgence (and a tasty one at that!).

¹ https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/tea-a-cup-of-good-health
² https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/nbu.12150

DIY: Green Tea Sheet Mask

Sheet masks are one of my favourite aspects of self-care. I didn’t always pay too much attention to my skin beyond washing it and not leaving make-up on before bedtime. However, the last few holiday seasons a certain someone (*cough*mom*cough*) gave me skin care products because apparently I’m not getting any younger… One of the things that I’ve really grown to love is using sheet masks because they really force me to actually stop and relax for a bit since if you move too much, the darn things fall off, and they just feel really good.

Korean sheet masks, or sheet masks from other countries of origin, are all very trendy right now – and they can also be quite expensive. A quick look at the price tags at my local drug store showed me prices anywhere from $2.99 to $14.99 (and no, the one that is $15 doesn’t come with a cup of tea). I buy mine from a local Asian supermarket where I get them for $1 each (or less, depending on if there’s a sale or not). That said, I know there’s a better (frugal) way of doing it, so I did a little bit of research to figure out what I’d need to make my own.

I am not a skin care expert, but I do know that what works for one person’s skin might not work for someone else! So take care in trying this out, but hopefully it works for you!

You will need:

1 sheet mask
¼ cup steeped green tea, cooled to room temperature
½ tsp glycerin
1 vitamin E oil capsule

Soak the mask in the green tea until it’s fully saturated. If you’re using a compressed sheet mask like I am, it’ll open up in the tea as it gets saturated.

Move the mask into a bowl (or plate), add the glycerin and the contents of the vitamin E capsule. You can pierce open vitamin E capsules with a pin and then squeeze out the contents. Mix it around – you can use your fingers for this part!

Apply sheet mask to your (clean) face. Leave on for about 30 minutes. After removing the sheet mask, I usually rub in the remaining sheet mask mixture into my skin.

Curious about the purpose of each ingredient?

Glycerin is a humectant, which means that it helps to moisturize the skin by drawing in moisture.

Green tea can help decrease inflammation and clear clogged pores, plus it’ll smell good!

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, it helps to moisturize the skin and help reduce UV damage.

DIY: Tea Baths

We all know that tea is great for drinking, but have you ever thought about bathing in it? I was at a cute little boutique not that long ago and they had huge premade sachets labelled as “tea baths”, which prompted me to go online to see if this was actually a thing (spoiler: it is!). Most tea baths out there don’t actually contain tea leaves, but calling it “tisane bath” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Tea baths are good for relaxation, soothing sore muscles, and just help to add a bit of glow to your skin.

Creating a tea bath is as easy as taking a look through your tea stash to see what you have available. I utilized epsom salts and herbal ingredients as well tea in creating my Tea Bath. Tea Baths are definitely a bit of a luxury and aren’t an every day event, but it’s nice to treat yourself from time to time! You can even opt to have a Tea Bath on a smaller scale and do a foot soak in it one as well. Tea Baths are easy to make ahead and might make excellent presents – and Valentine’s Day is coming up! You can create a mix in a jar and wrap a cute ribbon around the lid…. Just sayin’.

For one Tea Bath, you will need:

2 cups epsom salts
1 cup steeped green tea¹
1 tablespoon of each type of flower²
1 tea bag

¹ I oversteeped some green tea on purpose for my Tea Bath, I’m not worried about the tea tasting astringent since I am not drinking it. I would recommend using straight/plain green tea.

² I used 1 tablespoon each of lavender buds and rose buds (you could also use rose petals). Some other floral ingredients that you may want to consider using include chamomile or jasmine petals. I would avoid heavily coloured flowers, like hibisicus, because they may dye your skin (or towels… or bath tub…).

As you prepare to draw the Tea Bath, put the floral ingredients into the tea bag and cinch it close. I added the epsom salts to my tub as the water was filling, to help the epsom salts dissolve. After I turned off the water, I added the steeped green tea and then the tea bag with the floral ingredients. You can opt to put the flowers directly into the water if you want them floating around you, but the tea bag does make cleaning up after your Tea Bath a lot easier.

If you are opting to do a foot soak instead of a full Tea Bath, use ½-1 cup of epsom salts in your foot bath.

Epsom salt helps to relieve inflammation your muscles, and soothe sore muscles. It also helps to soften your skin and promote relaxation.

Green tea is an antioxidant, it helps refresh your skin for healthier glow.

Lavender and chamomile are both flowers that promote relaxation, relieve stress, and help refresh the skin.

Jasmine helps promote relaxation, helps soothe sore muscles, and refreshes your skin.

Rose buds/petals contain antioxidants, can reduce redness in your skin, and softens and helps to refresh the skin.