There comes a time in every student’s stretch at university where the years of cultivating an interest in craft ales, boutique gins, and cheap lager start to take its toll, and the mornings of half-remembered nights and very present hangovers lead you on a quest for truth: can there be more to drinking? How else can I indulge my craving for fanciness and bougie beverages? And, perhaps most importantly, can this also be beneficial to my ailing health? The answer, without a doubt, is found in the wonderful world of tea drinking.
This variety of tea is often the start of the journey for many, and as well as providing slow-release caffeine to steel you for your day, black teas have antioxidant properties, which may reduce the chances of diabetes and can reduce cholesterol levels.
If the classic English breakfast tea tickles your fancy, perhaps branch out into Darjeeling tea. Described by many as the “Champagne of Teas”, the tea benefits from the richer soils and the high altitudes of the city of Darjeeling. While these conditions primarily provide a more sophisticated taste, Darjeeling tea also possesses a higher concentration of antioxidants than other varieties of black tea. This tea benefits from a shorter brewing time of two to three minutes and a steeping temperature of 90 degrees (so leave the water in the kettle for a minute or so after boiling), in order to let the delicate flavours manifest.
If ever a tea could be a conversation piece, this would fit the bill. Lapsang Souchong was the first black tea ever made, and is distinct from other varieties of black tea in that it is smoked over pinewood fires to dry it out. The subsequent effect is a very strong, smoky aroma with a surprisingly delicate taste. This tea contains less caffeine than other similar black teas as well, so it will be enough to give your morning a lift without keeping you up all night. As this tea is fully oxidised, it can be steeped with freshly boiling water for around two to three minutes.
Though not sourced from the tea plant itself, herbal teas are nevertheless an exciting avenue of exploration, with subtle flavours and health benefits abound.
Named after the flower from which it is made, chamomile tea is a delicate and subtly floral variety of tea which is renowned for its ability to relieve stress and prevent insomnia, while also having mild relaxant properties which can aid with stomach aches and period pain. Leave it to brew in freshly boiled water for five minutes, and this caffeine-free treat will be at it’s best.
This one is a little harder to get hold of, but your search will not be in vain; made from the roselle flower, this tea is a deep-crimson delight that tastes strikingly similar to cranberry juice. Like chamomile, it benefits from a longer steep time of 5 minutes, and the flowers can be used up to 3 times. As well as being a tea which can be enjoyed hot or cold, hibiscus tea is also clinically proven to reduce blood pressure, reducing the chance of future strokes and heart attacks.