With all due respect to coffee lovers, when it comes to beverages that can transform our mindsets, there is simply no substitute for tea. In addition to providing a ritual in terms of its preparation, the ingredients involved can offer a number of benefits, from helping us feel more awake to having a calming effect to combating a head cold. Since the variety of options available can seem overwhelming, we asked Colleen O’Bryant, herbalist and founder of Sperryville, Virginia-based Wild Roots Apothecary to recommend specific teas to suit our moods and increase our overall wellness. Here are her suggestions for blends to help you relax, recharge, and everything in between.
Relax: When it’s time to wind down in the evening, O’Bryant says to try a blend of oatstraw and chamomile. “These two golden herbs are the cornerstones of the herbal nervines, and are known to promote relaxation and deep sleep,” she explains. If you wish to feel more relaxed during the day, O’Bryant recommends choosing tulsi basil. Also known as holy or sacred basil, O’Bryant says the adaptogenic herb promotes wellness by acting as an antidote to everyday stress by building, nourishing, and supporting your adrenals while promoting a sense of calm and control throughout the day.
Recharge: “I love the subtle oomph of hibiscus or rosehip,” O’Bryant says, noting that these herbs are both high in vitamin C, and the antioxidant herbs help oxygenate the blood and support the cardiovascular system. As an added bonus, the herbs make for a delicious drink. “The sweet and tart flavor of both of these with a little honey is a cup of love for sure,” she says.
Lighten up: One of O’Bryant’s favorite teas to make is Wild Roots Apothecary’s custom blend Love Spell Tea. “This aphrodisiac tea is a euphoric blend of herbs that make you happy, with the chief component being the herb damiana.” According to O’Bryant, the herb is a mood-booster that can have a relaxing, mood-lightening effect. “I love that it makes me feel like dancing Salsa almost every time I sip it,” she says.
Wake up: “Although I do love a cup of coffee, the winter months make me crave tea,” O’Bryant shares. For a potent rise-and-shine effect, she recommends reaching for white peony leaf, which she describes as having a beautiful awakening power. “This tea is collected similarly to green tea and dried in the sun, but the floral aromas and sensuous mouth feel make it my favorite wake-up tea,” she says.
Indulge: “For me, an indulgence has to have some sort of chai tea with the classic flavors of cinnamon, cardamom, and clove,” O’Bryant says. “I love mine with some Cacao nibs or shells to make a beautiful cup of Chocolate Chai.” She recommends pairing it with a little warmed milk of your choice and some maple syrup, and enjoying it while sitting by the fire—preferably while cuddled up with a good book.
Detox: “Almost every herb tea has detoxification processes in the makeup, but the one I reach for when I’m trying to reset and repair after an indulgent night is dandelion root,” O’Bryant says, adding that the simple and ubiquitous weed often found on spring lawns is a powerhouse of an herb. “For a good detox, I would use the roots to both help flush the liver from toxins and to help renew and support the liver,” she notes.
Get well: During the winter months when cold and flu season is in full swing, O’Bryant’s go-to tea is fresh ginger and local honey. If you feel the sense of chill or you can’t stop sneezing, she recommends whipping up an easy antidote of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced and submerged in about six ounces of water, brewed for at least 15 minutes. “Add a little honey or maybe even a little whisky for a Hot Toddy and then go to bed!” she advises.