Keep Calm and Have a Cuppa Tea, Love.
English breakfast, Irish breakfast, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Assam, Ceylon, Green tea, Oolong, Masala Chai, Rooibos. If you’re a purveyor of tea, you understand that the range of this distinctly unique beverage is endless. You will also appreciate that having a cup of tea, also known as a ‘cuppa’ to those with English heritage, is more than having a hot drink.
It’s almost magical. Let me explain…
I can recall seeing my grandmother make a pot of tea even as young as five or six years of age. Tea was a staple in our house – more so than coffee. For those who have had the pleasure of drinking tea as part of their daily routine, you can appreciate the relaxing, calming effect that tea produces. We didn’t have the fancy stuff like we do today. This was strong black tea, with plenty of full cream milk and a few good spoonful’s of sugar to sweeten things up. There is something about tea that instantly transports me back to memories of family and friends sitting around the kitchen table.
The other amazing thing about tea is that the moment that the first sip is consumed, the chaos that may have been encircling our world at the time, appears to magically ebb away. Tea for some unknown reason makes things feel better. Many people will describe that during moments of personal or family difficulty, it would not be out of place for someone to put the kettle on, or boil the jug to make a pot of tea. Life’s challenges were a wee bit easier to cope with once a good, strong, hot cuppa tea was shared. If a plate of biscuits (cookies) were offered, you knew that it was a special moment.
I’ve been fascinated about this experience, as I know many other people who describe the similar soothing, grounding, calming effects of drinking tea. I’ve often wondered if this experience is all just my imagination or whether there’s any real medicinal value from drinking this amber liquid? Intriguingly, there’s actually been a fair bit of research behind this phenomenon - yes, someone’s actually done research on this subject.
According to researchers (tea nerds), tea is known to reduce anxiety levels, increase positivity, induce relaxation and encourage interpersonal connections with others. Evidently, tea offers true psychopharmacological benefits due to an amino acid called Theatine. Theatine has an affect on our alpha brain waves which induces a calmer, clearer and relaxed state of mind. Groovy stuff.
On the other hand, I’ve wondered whether the stress reduction effects of tea are simply due to the social nature of sharing a cup? Again, research describes that the act of making and sharing a cup of tea for someone promote real social attachments. Part of this may explain why I think tea made by someone else always tastes better than if I made it myself. This is why I love to make tea for my wife each morning. A bit of love goes in every cup.
Evidently, sharing a cup of tea with someone can create feelings of companionship and affection. The ritual associated with tea making is deeply rooted in many cultures. It offers immediate comfort and social connection for many. It promotes feelings and behaviors that lead to secure interpersonal connections, particularly the emotions associated with trustworthiness. There’s a feeling of genuine connection when friends and family sit around the table to share a ‘cuppa’.
So, the next time that you feel that the world is about to crumble down on you, call a friend over and put on the kettle. Life will be ok.
Simon Niblock is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping couples and their families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships.
Contact Simon on 512-470-6976 to start a conversation.
Cross, M.C., & M.R. (DATE). The social psychological effects of tea consumption on stress. Retrieved from www.teaemergency.com.
Andrew, S., Gibson, E., Vuononvirta, R., Williams, E., Hamer, M., Rycroft, J., Erusalimsky, J., Wardle, J. (2007). The effects of tea on psychophysiological stress responsivity and post-stress recovery: a randomised double-blind trial. Psychopharmacology, Vol.190(1), pp.91-91.