Tea has long been a natural remedy to reduce stress and unwind after a long day. The act of pouring a hot steamy cup of tea and sipping while enjoying your favorite novel or lounging in a comfy chair helps to boost mood and decrease stress. Scientific research also shows that tea contains powerful ingredients that can target stress and depression on a chemical level.
We've put together a list of the best teas for stress and depression to help you relax and feel your best. From minty and floral herbal teas to famously healthy green teas, you're sure to find a tea that you love that can help you destress. Want to get your hands on tea to reduce stress and minimize symptoms of anxiety today? Check out our collection of the best teas for stress and depression right here.
Lavender is famous for helping to soothe and calm mood. In fact, lavender essential oil has long been used to help treat depression and anxiety in Ayurvedic medicine and other holistic regimens. Lavender extracts are even approved for the treatment of anxiety disorders and depression in Germany (1).
In one study of the German lavender supplement known as Silexan, researchers found the lavender oil was just as effective as Lorazepam—a sedative prescribed for anxiety symptoms (2). The research also found that lavender didn't have the drowsy side effects associated with many anxiety and depression medications. That means you can enjoy this tea all day long while still being able to focus and work.
Lavender tea emits a deliciously floral aroma that helps induce relaxation. Additional research shows that the scent of lavender can help improve sleep quality by increasing the amount of time spent in deep sleep cycles (3).
Lemon balm tea belongs to the mint family and offers a vibrant flavor with lemon undertones.
A study published in Neurochemical Research found that lemon balm tea increased GABA levels and decreased corticosterone levels including those of cortisol (4). GABA is a neurotransmitter that induces relaxation while cortisol is known as the human stress hormone. This research shows that drinking lemon balm tea may help treat symptoms of anxiety on a chemical level in the brain.
A second study found that lemon balm tea helps to treat mild to moderate anxiety symptoms. The 15-day study showed that 95 percent of volunteers responded to treatment with 70 percent showing complete remission for anxiety (5). It's important to note that this was a pilot trial consisting of 20 individuals and more research is needed to replicate the results.
Chamomile tea is made from the flowers of the chamomile plant and offers a distinct flavor that is similar to a crisp green apple. The tea is famous as a bedtime tea and helps to induce relaxation. A study published in Phytomedicine examined the effects of chamomile tea on Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Researchers found that chamomile use showed a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms for moderate to severe symptoms. The tea did not help to prevent future anxiety attacks (6).
The calming effects of chamomile tea can be attributed to its chemical makeup. Chamomile tea contains apigenin—an antioxidant that directly targets neurotransmitters and brain receptors to induce relaxation. The tea can also help improve sleep (7).
Green tea is one of the most well-researched teas on the market. Research has demonstrated its potential health benefits in the realms of heart diseases, cancer prevention, and immune system health.
Green tea contains an amino acid known as l-theanine. This amino acid helps to slow the absorption of caffeine and induces a natural calming effect. Studies show l-theanine may also have a natural anti-anxiety effect on the nervous system (8). A pilot study found that green tea works directly on the nervous system to induce calm. The researchers found that green tea inhibited a-amylase activity—a marker of stress (9).
Passionflower tea is made from the petals of the passion flower plant. The plant has long been used in tinctures and supplement form to treat anxiety, seizures, and hysteria. In fact, prior to 1978, passionflower was approved by the FDA as an over-the-counter sleep aid and sedative (10).
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in Phytotherapy Research found that drinking passionflower tea helped to improve sleep quality. Like other herbal teas, passionflower helps to boost GABA levels, which induce relaxation and improve sleep quality (11).
Valerian tea is made from the roots of the valerian plant. It boasts a potent, earthy flavor with an aroma that is refreshing and contains notes of pine. The strong flavor of the tea may be a bit overwhelming for some palettes, but the tea flavor can be balanced with the addition of a touch of raw honey.
Valerian root has been a staple of herbal remedies in the treatment of anxiety and depression symptoms. One study showed that valerian extract helped to decrease anxiety prior to surgery (12).
Peppermint tea boasts powerful anti-anxiety properties thanks to its invigorating scent. The tea is made by infusing the leaves of the peppermint plant in hot water. The result is a pale green tea that offers a delightfully refreshing aroma with hints of pine and a tingling flavor.
Research shows that the scent of peppermint tea can help induce relaxation and reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and chronic stress (13). The tea boasts anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce pain and inflammation. It also offers the same effects on the nervous system as other herbal teas, helping ot reduce cortisol levels and boost mood.
Holy basil tea is highly aromatic with a flavor profile that includes hints of clove and peppery notes. The herb is commonly used in Thai culinary dishes and boasts extensive health benefits.
Studies show that holy basil tea may be as effective in treating anxiety as diazepam and other antidepressants. The herb has also been shown to improve memory recall and improve quality of sleep. The tea has also been shown to significantly improve stress scores in multiple studies (14). The tea is a staple of Ayruvedic medicine and is often used in the practice of yoga. In these realms, it is believed to nurture and nourish the body while creating a sense of relaxation.
Drinking ginseng tea can help to reduce the feeling of fatigue that often accompanies depression and anxiety. It may also offer protective effects against high stress levels. Ginseng tea has a slightly bitter flavor that is contrasted by an earthy sweetness. It has hints of carrot and licorice amongst an earthy background.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study examined the effects of ginger in 90 subjects with chronic fatigue. Researchers found that ginseng helped improve mood and boosted cognitive performance (15).
Tea is not a replacement for prescription medications used to treat severe cases of depression or anxiety. Teas may also interact with certain medications and other herbal supplements including those from St. John's Wort. Consult with a physician before trying herbal teas or true teas to treat your symptoms.
While tea is not a cure, it can help mitigate some of the symptoms associated with generalized anxiety disorder and stress. It offers a natural calming effect and helps you take a moment out of the day to unwind and focus on what matters most.
Drinking tea can also help boost overall health and well-being so you feel your best. The stress-relief properties of this healthy elixir can help you unwind while the delicious flavors are sure to please your palette. Simply steep a few tea bags or loose leaf teas throughout the day and toast to better relaxation and overall calm.