Bedtime Tea Ritual

By Sandra Ramani, Organic Spa

Before settling in for their Himalayan bath therapies and herbal poultice massages, guests of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Chi Spas are asked to sit down and have a sip. From their property in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, to the newly opened outpost in Vancouver, Canada, the Tibetan-inspired brand begins all services with an in-suite tea ceremony, during which an aromatic house blend is served to clients in a jade bowl placed on a silver-plated copper stand, the presentation a nod to the way the high lamas took tea in the legend of Shangri-La. “In Asian culture, tea drinking celebrates the ideals of peace, sharing, and simplicity when offered as a welcome gesture,” explains Sheila McCann, Shangri-La’s Director of Spa Brand Quality, “and it also provides a wonderful opportunity to sit back and allow the tension of the day to slip away.”

While you may not be able to indulge in pre-bedtime massages every day, this simple relaxation ritual is something that can easily be translated from the spa to the home. We’re not talking about a chatty tea klatch with friends or a cup of chai on the go; instead, taking just a few minutes to be present in that simple ritual, the rhythmic cycle of pour, sip, repeat, will allow you mental space to reflect on the day and clear the mind before sleep. We asked British tea expert Jane Pettigrew, author of such books as A Social History of Tea and The New Tea Companion, for her tips on the best brews for bedtime relaxation, and what to avoid.

Know Your Terms
As a brief reminder, Pettigrew points out that the word “tea” should only be applied to “infusions made from the leaves and leaf buds of the tea plant, or camellia sinensis. Brews made just from herbs like chamomile, verbena, and mint are not strictly speaking teas, but herbal infusions or tisanes.” Each drink has its own benefits and side effects; for the most part, though, all infusions and tisanes are caffeine-free.

Choose Wisely
When it comes to soothing pure teas, Pettigrew recommends “white, jasmine-flavored or fragrant Taiwanese oolongs, because although there is caffeine in all teas, these varieties don’t seem to have the same sort of punchy power as the black and some green. White or green leaves with rose or lavender are also particularly relaxing, though Pettigrew favors jasmine and oolongs because their “heavenly fragrance and flavor just make you want to close your eyes, tip back your head and savor every sip.”

Herbal Heaven
Being caffeine-free, “most herbals are good at bedtime,” Pettigrew confirms. “Calming chamomile, with its slightly apple-y, hot-buttered-toast and honey characteristics, seems to wrap you up in a childhood sense of security and safety.” Also good before sleeping, fennel helps relax the muscles and settle the digestion, while lemon verbena, peppermint, and valerian can help encourage a restful night.

What to Skip
“Avoid strong black teas and the more robust green teas,” Pettigrew warns, since both “can deliver quite a strong dose of caffeine.” Some herbals can invigorate the system in the evening, too, so pass on anything with yerba mate (a common caffeine substitute), nettle, Ginkgo, and ginger.

Organic Spa Magazine is a national consumer lifestyle magazine about bringing spa wisdom into the modern green lifestyle. For a free digital subscription, click here.

66 comments

Angelica P.
Angelica P.6 years ago

Tea before bedtime sounds great.

Jean Lord
Jean Lord6 years ago

I am strictly a tea drinker, looks like I'm gonna be trying some new ones. Tea anyone?

Michelle R.
J Thomas6 years ago

I use to drink tea before bed but stopped for some reason. Time to start again. Thank you!

Elisa M.
.6 years ago

Thank you for the great article! I love drinking tea before bed.

Santanita Grogg
Santanita Grogg6 years ago

This is great. I often wonder which have caffeine. Now I know. I like to mix peppermint and chamomile for a bed time tea.

Soul Wine
Tonya lee6 years ago

Hibiscus tea is great for lowering high blood pressure. Available at most health food stores, Jamaican restaurants or go to iHerb.com and use code SOH355 for $5.00 off

Mary Holloway
Mary H.6 years ago

I love to drink Green Tea after breakfast. Usually one more cup later on in the day. Some herbal teas I have tried but I always go back to Green Tea. Forgot to mention, that one more cup of Green tea is later after supper, and with it, I eat a piece of chocolate candy. Can't get any better than that.

Mervi R.
Mervi R.6 years ago

Thank you for this, love tea!

Claudia L.
Claudia L.6 years ago

great comment re heating the honey thanks- had no idea i was undoing the power of my expensive manuka by adding it to hot lime juice until recently! will try the finger guide instead

Rosemary R.
Rosemary Rannes6 years ago

Celestial Seasonings "Sleepy Time" tea works for me :-) Thank you.