I never really cared for tea. I always thought it was too weak tasting, or I had to add large amounts of sugar or cream to make it taste better. For me, tea was just something I’d have sometimes when coffee would be inappropriate (like late in the evening). But when I decided to stop drinking, I felt like I wanted something to sip on while watching TV at night before bed, just like I had done with alcohol.
Herbal tea seemed to be a good choice, especially the “bedtime tea”, the kinds that are supposed to help you feel drowsy and get to sleep easier. I definitely wanted that, since I relied on alcohol to fall asleep. In addition to the teas that could help me sleep or ease nervous tension (according to the box descriptions), I also picked up some detoxifying teas to help clean up my liver.
I’ve had some crazy reactions to these herbal teas, some were strange and some were nightmare-ish.
The Good Tea
The first brand I picked up was some organic tea by Traditional Medicinals, which I bought at my local organic market (also available through major retailers). The first batch I got was “Chamomile and Lavender” tea and their “Everyday Detox” tea.
The chamomile and lavender tea is excellent. It’s very flavorful using just one bag and about a cup and a half of water. The flavors of the herbs just go together very well, and I had no problems sleeping with this tea. The quality of this tea is so incredibly high that I have yet to find another brand that even comes close. The biggest problem I have with the tea is sometimes it’s sold out and I have to buy something else!
Everyday Detox (also Traditional Medicinals) is another great tea I like. According to the package, the ingredients promote a healthy liver function (although the FDA doesn’t authorize such claims). I started drinking the detox tea in order to help my liver recover from so many years of drinking. I don’t know if it works, but the tea definitely tastes good; it’s spicy, sweet, and has a wonderful chicory flavor from the roasted root ingredients. The package says to use it for a few weeks, then take a week off and resume. I couldn’t drink that much, because it is such a strong tea.
By far, pure chamomile (no particular brand) has been my favorite herbal tea so far. I have no strange reactions (which I will get to in a minute). It helps me feel more calm, and doesn’t interfere with my sleep at all, although I don’t know if it helps me sleep better. I’d rather have the chamomile and lavender from Traditional Medicinals, but if I can’t just plain is fine.
I usually like it plain, but sometimes I will put a tiny bit of agave syrup in it.
The Not-So-Good Tea
In a bizarre twist, and with a lot of experimenting, I found out that I must by hyper-sensitive to some ingredient(s) found in “sleepy teas” or “bedtime tea”.
These teas, which are supposed to help you feel drowsy and have restful sleep, actually make me have restless sleep and vivid dreams/nightmares. I’ve tried many brands of tea and I’ve decided it’s the ingredients and not the brand. Unfortunately, I don’t know which ingredient it is.
But to be on the safe side I avoid teas that include:
I cannot begin to describe how horrible my sleep was after drinking these teas. I would fall asleep fast, but then several hours later I would awake and feel exhausted but unable to go back to sleep. If I did get back to sleep I would thrash around, tossing and turning. If I was lucky, I might get back to sleep. Overall, a terrible experience and not much sleep.
UPDATE 10/25/13: I seem to be OK with valerian and passionflower, but not hops and kava.
The Absolutely Horrible Tea
By far the worst herbal tea I got was this Chinese stuff called “Booze Remedy”. I bought it back when I was first kicking my alcohol habit, since it was supposed to aid the symptoms of over-indulgence (and also help reduce alcohol cravings). I read the ingredients over and there didn’t seem to be anything strange so I bought it.
Except I didn’t read very carefully.
As I brewed this horrid tea, I smelled something was off. I drank a cup. Then, I went back to the box, because I had this horrible taste in my mouth like I had been eating decorative soaps, and there it was in the ingredients: patchouli. How I missed this is beyond me, but it was definitely my last (and only) cup of that garbage.
I can’t stand the smell of patchouli, I certainly don’t want to drink it!
So that’s my weird tea adventure. The problem has been that until I found something I liked, I ended up with about 7 boxes of tea I don’t want. I can’t even give that awful patchouli tea away; no one will take it.
I enjoy several cups of chamomile before bed every day. Do you have a favorite?