Updated: Apr 23, 2021
When you're run down and tired, it's tempting to reach for an energy drink or sugar-laden coffee shop treat, but evidence shows that there's a better way to boost your energy throughout the day. Better yet, it comes with healthy antioxidants and without the dreaded sugar crash. Natural Honey Tea.
Honey tea isn't a specific beverage with a set recipe, so much as a category of drinks that combine its namesake ingredients in a variety of ways. This means you can blend your own favorite flavors and teas to get exactly the effects you want from your afternoon cup.
Here is all you need to know to start brewing up a healthy energy boost this winter.
Which Tea is Tea?
There are two different categories of drinks the English language commonly calls "tea." Beverages made by steeping the leaves of the Camellia sinensis (tea) plant are what probably come to mind first. These include traditional green and black teas with which most people are familiar. However, the act of steeping plants in hot water and drinking the brew extends far beyond the traditional tea plant.
"Herbal tea" refers to a brew made from steeping part of any other plant in water. The range of possible ingredients is vast and varied, such as chamomile flowers, rooibos leaves, cinnamon bark, rosehip seed pods, or ginger root. Herbal teas can also be called tisanes or herbal infusions, but for this article, we'll use "tea" to refer to the camellia sinensis brews and "herbal tea" for any brews using other plants.
Humans around the planet have consumed teas - both camellia and herbals - since our earliest recorded histories. Preserved tea leaves have been found among East Asian grave goods predating 2000 BC, and pre-Olmec sites show evidence of cacao beverages being prepared as early as 1750 BC. These brews can have many benefits, depending on the plants involved.
Natural Energy Boosters
Different plants - and specific parts of those plants - have different chemical components and energetic properties that they can impart to steeped beverages.
Caffeine is the most famous of these natural compounds found in the leaves, nuts, and seeds of several different plants. Caffeine prevents drowsiness by attaching to adenosine receptors in the body's nervous system. Build-up of adenosine decreases neural activity, so by leaving fewer places for adenosine to adhere, caffeine keeps neural activity high. This prevents drowsiness and improves your ability focus for longer stretches.
Antioxidants of one type or another are found in all plants, but the polyphenols in tea seem to be particularly beneficial to human health and energy. Polyphenols are a particular type of antioxidant that wasn't studied in depth until fairly recently, due to their highly sophisticated structure. Part of what makes them so influential is their volume.
"Polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidants in the diet."
Not only do these potent antioxidants reduce oxidative stress, slowing many effects of aging and boosting energy, but research "strongly supports a role for polyphenols in the prevention of degenerative diseases." - Polyphenols: antioxidants and beyond, Augustin Scalbert, Ian, T Johnson, Mike Saltmarsh
Honey is a carbohydrate, which means it is literally the fuel your body burns for energy. Sports dieticians recommend pure honey before a workout to stay energized and focused.
"Honey is composed of a unique carbohydrate composition of natural sugars and trace amounts of antioxidants, enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids, making it a smart, natural energy-filled afternoon snack."
To get the best energy from honey, make sure you're using pure honey. A lot of companies thin their honey out with other sugary products like corn syrup. This saves on their production costs, and sacrifices the nutritional value, so you don't get the natural benefits. Make sure the label says pure honey, like Don Victor Pure Honey, and you can trust that you're not getting deceptive fillers.
3 Energizing Honey Teas
Combining the energy-boosting benefits of honey and tea is a natural and healthy way to start your morning or beat the afternoon slump. It's easy to mix up your own combinations, including your favorite flavors or benefits, but here are three tried-and-true blends.
Honey Lemon Tea
For a gentle pick-me-up, nothing beats the flavor of honey and lemon. Since this is an herbal blend using lemon, there is no caffeine in this cup, making it ideal for people sensitive to the stimulant's effects. The lemon's refreshing flavor and scent promote alertness and focus while the honey fuels your brain cells. Since it's not caffeinated, this is an excellent blend to try late in the day, when you need to stay focused on that last leg of a project but don't want to endanger your evening sleep patterns.
Simply pour hot water over 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 Tablespoons of pure honey. Squeezing a fresh lemon is the best, both for health and flavor, but bottled lemon juice still does the job.
Honey Green Tea
Green tea has been used for thousands of years, not just as a drink, but as actual medicine. Its benefits are too numerous to list here, but the unique blend of caffeine and antioxidants are renowned for sharpening mental focus. Honey supports your stamina and steady energy levels, helping you keep your zen all day long.
Add 1-2 Tablespoons of honey to a cup of hot green tea. Green tea bags or loose leaf tea both work well, but using matcha powder is even better for you. Since matcha lets you drink the entire powdered leaf as part of your tea, you get even more of the beneficial antioxidants in each cup.
Yerba Mate with Honey
For the biggest caffeine boost, yerba mate is your go-to herbal tea. It has almost as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, supported by a wealth of antioxidant polyphenols and a rich, earthy taste. Native to South America, one name for this traditional drink meant "what keeps us alive." Add honey's energy boost, and this blend will keep you powered through your day.
Add 1-2 Tablespoons of pure honey to a warm mug of steeped yerba mate.
Fun fact: yerba mate is classically sipped through a metal straw from a gourd-shaped mug. Don't worry, though, you'll get the energy-boosting benefits from any brewing style.
No matter your schedule, you need steady energy reserves to fuel your day. Try working these healthy energy boosters into your routine, and reap their natural benefits.
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