Tea season is officially here—and whether you’re grabbing a cup of green tea to kick off your morning or a herbal blend to wind down in the evening, warm mugs of tea can do your mind and body good in many different ways.
“The health benefits of tea are innumerable, ranging from helping to protect the body against various invaders and boosting the immune system to improving stress and sleep disturbances,” says dietitian Mary Wirtz, M.S, R.D.N., C.S.S.D., consultant for Mom Loves Best. Of course, they also help keep you hydrated, and proper hydration comes with its own set of benefits, such as better cognition and mood.
So what exactly makes tea so beneficial? The answer lies in the powerful compounds different varieties contain. Many teas, for example, have phytonutrients that act as antioxidants in our body, explains dietitian Trista K. Best, M.P.H., R.D., L.D.N. of Balance One. These antioxidants then have far-reaching benefits throughout the body, including warding off oxidative stress that is caused by free radicals and linked to all sorts of Western health issues.
Not to mention, many teas are made from different herbs and natural ingredients that have long been used in traditional medicine systems to support everything from sleep to digestion.
Which tea should you turn to? Below, dietitians dish on their favorite teas for various health goals.
To head off to Sleep, Sip chamomile tea
“Chamomile tea provides antioxidants and essential oils that have a natural relaxing effect in the body,” says Best. “The body is better able to rest as the muscles become more relaxed as the tea encourages a peaceful feeling to aid in sleep.”
The power player here: “Apigenin, an antioxidant that attaches itself to brain receptors, helping to ease feelings of anxiety while providing a sense of drowsiness,” says dietitian Clara Lawson, R.D.N., of USA Hemp. Specifically, apingen helps to reduce the production of stress hormone while boosting the hormones serotonin and melatonin that promote a happy mood and sleep.
Also, since chamomile can soothe your throat, it can come in handy when throat discomfort or soreness is keeping you up at night, Best adds.
For healthy digestion and fresh breath, try peppermint tea
Menthol, the bioactive compound in the peppermint herb, is widely known for helping to ease bloating by relaxing the intestinal tract, Lawson shares. As a result, it’s a common go-to for mild digestive woes.
Since peppermint tea is caffeine-free, you can sip on it to soothe your stomach any time of day, including before bed.
Another perk of the menthol in peppermint tea? Thanks to its unique properties, it staves off bad breath, according to Lawson.
- Traditional Medicinals Organic Peppermint Tea for Healthy Digestion
- Twining’s Probiotic Peppermint And Fennel Tea
To ease queasiness, Drink ginger tea
Ginger tea (perhaps with a spritz of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of honey or agave?) can be a good friend to an ailing gut.
By helping to relax the digestive system, this root-based tea helps to speed up the digestion process (which is helpful when you feel over-full) and soothe an upset stomach, says Lawson.
For these reasons, “ginger tea is effective in relieving queasiness that pregnant women commonly experience,” she adds.
Two powerhouse compounds here: antioxidants known as gingerols and shogaols.
For a daily health boost, Sip green tea
Green tea is so much more than a way to boost energy when you need some caffeine.
“Green tea is packed with antioxidants which have widespread health benefits,” says Best. “They work in the body to prevent and reduce cellular damage from toxins and free radicals.”
One of green tea’s specific perks? It may support healthy cholesterol through the way it interacts with LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Antioxidants called catechins are responsible for this, notes Best.
Read More: How Much Caffeine 9 Popular Drinks Contain
“Regular consumption of green tea has also been well-researched as helping to promote cardiovascular health and blood sugar regulation,” Wirtz says.
Since green tea does contain caffeine, Wirtz does say to be cautious if you are caffeine-sensitive or are looking for something to sip in the evening.
To Boost energy, drink black tea
Like other teas, black tea provides polyphenol antioxidants that have many health-promoting benefits, including supporting full-body health, blood sugar regulation, a healthy weight, and cardiovascular function, says Wirtz. As such, this classic is a great go-to for promoting overall wellness.
Compared to other options, though, black tea is high in caffeine. It’s a perfect option if you’re looking for an energy boost, but you might want to avoid it in the evening, suggests Wirtz. Her signature way of drinking it? A warm cup of Earl Grey tea with frothed almond or oat milk for natural and subtle sweetness.
Not sure what type of tea strikes your fancy? Browse The Vitamin Shoppe’s full selection of herbal teas to find your new go-to.