Due to a variety of factors, about 50% of people over 60 are at risk of social isolation and 33% of them report feeling lonely . Isolation and loneliness are psychological stressors that can cause both mental and physical health consequences. Humans are inherently social beings and enjoy the company of others for various reasons, and those connections contribute to better overall health. Today we suggest a simple activity that supports connection and stress relief from multiple angles: a calming tea party.
Why Drink Tea?
Tea (Camellia sinensis) is a plant that you can brew into a drink known for having a calming effect. There is a ritual to its preparation, its warmth is soothing, its flavors are subtle and nuanced, and it can be personalized with sweeteners or creamers to suit individual preferences.
There is also, however, a nutritional element unique to tea that provides a calming effect. It’s an amino acid: L-theanine.
L-Theanine is a non-protein amino acid and a naturally occurring structural analogue of glutamate. It binds glutamate receptors, regulating the signaling of glutamate, and is able to pass the blood-brain barrier to exert its relaxation effect. L-Theanine modulates neurotransmitters, including reducing glutamate release, promoting activity of the calming neurotransmitter, GABA, and enhancing glycine and dopamine release . Glycine is another calming/inhibitory amino acid and dopamine is the classic “feel good” neurotransmitter.
L-Theanine also promotes the functional integrity of neurons, thereby providing additional support to cognition, mood, and feelings of well-being .
A serving size of 250 mL green tea prepared under the recommended brewing conditions provides approximately 30 mg L-theanine .
If you don’t particularly enjoy drinking tea everyday (or even if you do) you can also supplement L-theanine. Supplementary L-theanine is available as a stand-alone nutrient, or you can find it in Metabolic Maintenance’s new Ashwagandha Plus formula, as well as our MetaCalm stress-support blend.
Connectedness Tea Party
For a new and fun approach to creating connection, try inviting a few friends over for a more modern take on a tea party to create your own “connectedness tea”.
Choose a variety of ingredients such as fresh and dry flowers, herbs and spices that promote relaxation. Put the ingredients out in small bowls and allow each guest to create their own blend before serving hot water for steeping.
Most dried teas will take a teaspoon of dry ingredients to 8 ounces of boiling water and should steep for no less than 10 minutes. Double check that the ingredients you choose are edible. Some great options for rest and relaxation include rose, lavender, passion flower, chamomile, peppermint, spearmint, green tea, and lemon balm tea. You can also add dried apple, peach, coconut, a cinnamon stick or even ginger for a little extra kick.
Use a tea infuser or specially crafted tea brewing pot to keep loose ingredients from floating into your cup or mug, pour boiling water over your infuser and let steep for 10 minutes. Adjust the steep time and ingredients to the flavor profile that you like best and share this experience with your friends while you brew your next cup of connectedness tea.
While You Wait
Because tea takes a while to prepare, it forces you to step back and take your time, creating space for conversation. You and your friends can tell stories or share your day with one another while participating in a low-stress activity.
Alternatively, there are hundreds of traditions where tea is used for meditation, spiritual rituals, and prayer ceremonies that center around health, happiness, and abundance. You can create your own connectedness tea ceremony with your friends to share for years to come.
Types of teas and herbs that support relaxation are plentiful. You can combine them for a unique blend and flavor profile. It’s important if you are taking any medication to check with your healthcare provider if there could be any adverse effects with fresh herbs or teas prior to incorporating them in your diet.