Sip something soothing and keep stress at bay with these tips.

Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
March 09, 2021
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Person making two cups of tea sitting on kitchen countertop
Credit: Getty Images / Sara Monika

Some stress in everyday life is normal and, in some cases, unavoidable. That said, too much stress can have some negative effects on your health. The important part is keeping stress in check, so having ways to relax and unwind in your back pocket can be helpful. And is there anything as universally relaxing as a nice hot cup of tea? Whether it's to quell an afternoon slump or to prep your mind and body for sleep, there's a tea for that. 

To learn more, we spoke with the herbal educator for Pukka Herbs, Lindsay Kluge, M.S., CNS, LDN. She has a master's of science degree in herbal medicine and writes a blog called Ginger Tonic Botanicals. She gave us the scoop on how to get started with tea, the most relaxing teas and more. 

How to Choose the Right Tea for You 

There are so many different kinds of tea that it can feel overwhelming to pick one. Not to worry, though—Kluge has tips for that. "The first question when choosing a tea is, 'What does my body need right now?' It may be a few moments of calm, deeper, more restful sleep, a bit of rejuvenating energy or even an emotional, joyful uplift," says Kluge. "Once you ask your body what it needs, then the fun begins of choosing the herbs!"

For something that gives you a boost, try something caffeinated like green tea, black tea or white tea. For something more relaxing, try an herbal tea that is not caffeinated. There are even teas that can help fight inflammation, a key marker of stress in the body. Kluge loves the Pukka Relax Tea blend to wind down. 

Beyond what type of tea you choose, how you drink your tea is important as well. "Really enjoy your tea-drinking process, smell the herbs infusing, pay attention to the taste and flavors of the herbs and be mindful of how your body experiences this botanical infusion in the moment and over time," adds Kluge. "Herbs, like people, take some time to get to know." Kluge also adds that it is important to ensure your tea is grown, harvested, processed and prepared sustainably (this is one of the main principles of Pukka's philosophy). 

The Most Relaxing Teas, According to an Herbalist 

"To start, simply the act of drinking a warm cup of tea can be grounding and relaxing to your mind and body when you sip mindfully, close your eyes and inhale the fragrance of your cup with every sip," states Kluge. That being said, there are also specific kinds of herbs that are considered "nervines" that are specifically targeted to relax the nervous system, which is where most of us carry acute and chronic stress. Kluge explains that these herbs can serve a variety of functions, including easing muscle tension, calming a racing mind, soothing digestion and even encouraging us to sleep. Some nervine herbs that Kluge recommends are chamomile, lemon balm, valerian, skullcap, linden and milky oat tops. Pukka offers a selection box of 9 teas that include a variety of these relaxing herbs and more. You can find them at a store near you on their website. Here are Kluge's top picks from Pukka, plus some of our editors' faves.

Pukka Relax Tea
Wellness Tea Introduction Kit
$89.93
( $119.91 save 25%)
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Vahdam Teas
Sleep Bundle
$29.00
SHOP IT
DAVIDsTEA
The Calm College Mini Sachet Tea Chest
$18.50
SHOP IT
DAVIDsTEA

Even though teas can help you feel relaxed, they are not a cure-all for health conditions. "Although some herbs can provide noticeable immediate relief after one use, a common misconception is assuming that just one cup of tea will resolve a health issue. Herbs were not created for our specific health problems," clarifies Kluge. "A common misconception in choosing a relaxing tea is that it will prevent anxiety or acute stress. A relaxing tea may certainly help support the symptoms of stress and anxiety in that moment, but dig deeper into the cause of why you need relaxing support in the first place." Working in other mindfulness strategies such as meditation and self-love to help identify sources of stress so you can acknowledge it and move forward aware of it. 

It can be helpful to incorporate other ways to reduce stress, as well. "I've learned to say no to things when my calendar is getting too full. I take several walks throughout the day to move my body, clear my head and step away from emails. Spending time in nature always does the trick for me," shares Kluge. 

Bottom Line 

To keep stress at manageable levels, it is important to have relaxation strategies. Few ways to relax are more delicious and soothing than a nice cup of tea. Plus, tea is affordable and can be enjoyed by people of all ages, making it great for families. Kluge suggests trying to grow your own mint, chamomile or lemon balm (they work well in pots on a porch) then making your own tea, too. Some teas are more relaxing than others, but whatever tea you enjoy the most is the best choice for you. Also, drink it mindfully to reap all the relaxation benefits.