I've Tried All The Calming Teas. These Are The Ones That Actually Help With Anxiety
Whether you have anxiety regularly or you're just dealing with the stress of everyday life, the simple action of sipping a warm cup of tea can be oh-so-comforting—and if that tea has additional herbs and ingredients meant to calm you, all the better. But which ones actually have a noticeable impact? I sipped my way through the world of anxiety teas to see which ones actually reduced my stress. Here's my review of the top five brews:
Allegro Relaxing Chamomile
This tea combines a chamomile base with Hawthorne berry, eleuthero, and rose petals. Hawthorne berry lowers blood pressure1, which may help to reduce the physical symptoms that lead to feelings of anxiety, while eleuthero root supports the adrenals, offering help with long-term stress and anxiety. I drank it every day for a week, and while I enjoyed the pleasant, mild flavor (chamomile with a hint of vanilla), it didn't significantly affect my stress levels. Eleuthero is meant to be supportive over time, however, so I have a feeling this would be a good one to sip over a period of months or years as extra adrenal support.
Traditional Medicinals Cup of Calm
I've actually had panic attacks where, instead of reaching for a pill, I hit up this guy (with a hefty dose of magnesium and some deep breathing, but that's a story for another day). I also always keep it in my bag when I travel, and it makes the trip go far more smoothly. The secret in this one is passionflower, which has actually been shown in studies to soothe anxiety symptoms.
The Republic of Tea Get Relaxed
This one is all about those florals; it smells and tastes strongly of lavender and rose, so if you're not into that, this might not be the one for you. If you are, however, it offers potent aromatherapeutic benefits. It also has rooibos—which adds a lovely sweetness—passionflower and chamomile. This one left me almost as calm as the Cup of Calm, but slightly less tranquilized—which was actually a good thing, depending on the circumstances. While I'd reach for Cup of Calm when I was having an acute panic episode, Get Relaxed was perfect for sipping throughout the workday to feel mellow and chill, no matter how much was on my plate.
Pukka Relax Tea
This one was my favorite flavor, with a strong fennel note that soothed my stomach. Personally, I find the gut-brain connection all too real—when I get an upset stomach, I inevitably feel pangs of anxiety, and when those waves of anxiety come, I inevitably feel that churning in my stomach. The fennel really soothed that—in fact, this tea, as a whole, was super soothing. It didn't feel therapeutic but was a nice moment of ah, a spot of Zen in a hectic day. The ingredients are pretty wow-worthy too: chamomile, licorice, sweet fennel seed, bitter fennel seed, oat flowering tops, cardamom pod (yum!), ginger root, and marshmallow root.
Yogi Calming Tea
Another chamomile-based blend, this one jazzes up the classic herb with a few interesting additions, including gotu kola and licorice. While it says it has a "natural plum flavor," I tasted that not at all. The tea is fairly sweet (the effect of the licorice) and softly herby, with a floral undertone. Perhaps not surprisingly—it is called Yogi tea—this tea imparted the kind of calm that a good yoga session gives me, a kind of heady, full-body state of Zen. Gotu kola has been proven to be incredibly effective on anxiety in a number of studies and has been used for thousands of years as a natural anxiety supplement. While Yogi doesn't share the amount of each herb in its "proprietary blend," gotu kola is near the top of the list, which typically indicates a larger amount.
A note on how to get the most benefits out of your tea:
To get the most benefits out of these teas (or any herbal tea that you're drinking for therapeutic purposes), cover your mug while it steeps. (I just use a jar lid or, in a pinch, a bowl or plate placed gently on top.) This prevents the volatile organic oils that give herbs their potency from evaporating in the steam, ensuring the resulting tea is maximally effective.
Liz Moody is an author, blogger and recipe developer living in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated with a creative writing and psychology degree from The University of California, Berkeley. Moody has written two cookbooks: Healthier Together: Recipes for Two—Nourish Your Body, Nourish Your Relationships and Glow Pops: Super-Easy Superfood Recipes to Help You Look and Feel Your Best. She also hosts the Healthier Together Podcast, where she chats with notable chefs, nutritionists, and best-selling authors about their paths to success. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Glamour, Food & Wine & Women’s Health.