In times of stress and angst, my mother always prescribed a deep calming breath and a Nice Cup of Tea. In times of big stress and angst, however, too many of those Nice Cups of Tea can send your over-caffeinated nerves a-jangling and tank your coping skills all the more.
So, how much caffeine is in a cup of regular black tea?
In part, it depends on how strongly your tea is brewed, how many tea bags or spoonfuls of tea laves in relation to how much water, and how long you let it steep before drinking.
(My grandmother used to let tea stew on the back of the stove for half the day, adding another splash of water or handful of tea leaves from time to time so the pot never ran dry. Her tea could bring a strong man to his knees.)
Health Canada’s recommendation is a maximum daily caffeine intake of no more than 300mg, or a little over two 8-oz (237 ml) cups of coffee, for women of childbearing age; and no more than 400mg for other healthy adults. As a general rule of thumb, you can figure that, for each cup of coffee, you could have 2 -3 cups of black tea, or 6-8 cups of green tea as the caffeine equivalent.
Not too bad… and tea in moderation has all kinds of health benefits that you’ve probably heard way too much about already.
But we’re talking about caffeine here, and whether our bodies can handle it when we’r ein crisis mode. We know that too much caffeine can keep you on edge and make you irritable, interrupt your sleep, and make your heart race the same way anxiety does. And now the medical types are telling us that caffeine will mess with your blood sugar levels, too.
Luckily, it’s not the caffeine that makes us turn to tea in a crisis, or when we’re pausing for recovery from a crisis. The comfort factor of the proverbial Nice Cup of Tea comes in large part from the heat of the liquid — iced tea just doesn’t have quite the same effect. Too, it’s the reassuring familiarity of the tea-brewing ritual, and even just cradling that warm mug in your hand.
I’ve mentioned Stash Tea and their wonderful Lemon-Ginger tea before, I believe, as my first choice for soothing a sore throat and unstuffing a stuffy nose. But it does a good job of settling a nervous stomach, too. In fact any kind of ginger tea (or licorice, if you’re into that flavour) will calm an upset stomach that’s tied in nervous knots.
Chamomile tea is soothing beyond belief, but it tastes like boiled straw. Or, at least, as I imagine boiled straw would taste — that’s certainly not a beverage I’ve tried! It’s a lot more potable when blended with other herbs, like peppermint. And peppermint’s another herb that is traditionally used to treat insomnia, as well as a host of other complaints. Refreshing and calming, both at the same time!
Besides the symptoms of tension, headaches, upset stomach, nervousness and insomnia, we know that stress can also really take a toll on your immune system. Any little germ that’s going around, the stressed-out person will catch it! Hibiscus flower, rosehip or citrus-based herbal teas rich in vitamin C can help to fight back. Echinacea tea, too, of course — and Celestial Seasonings makes a pretty good Complete Care Wellness Tea that I can recommend trying: an echinacea blend with a lovely hint of mint.
For those small stressful events, by all means have a nice pick-me-up cup of regular black or green tea. They’re both said to be brimming with health-giving antioxidants, after all. But when life throws you a whole big series of major curves, do dial back on the caffeinated teas and give the caffeine-free herbal teas a try.
Image credit: Tea cup by sahua