After having been forced to abandon the health kick I adopted at the start of this year for, um, health reasons (yes, I know how it sounds) this week sees me back on the wagon, drinking sugar free Irn Bru with lunch and managing to forgo the siren call of the work vending machine when the mid-afternoon sugar crash hits. One of the simple things I have been trying, with various levels of success, is cutting out my morning latte – it’s bad enough that they are 140 calories, according to MyFitnessPal: more importantly I’ve been finding myself wasting around £15 a week.
With perfect timing, Twinings offered to send me some boxes of their new health benefit blends to help me on my quest. They’re only four calories a cup, and each blend has been developed to provide a different health benefit.
Please excuse the cat-butt photobomb on the top photograph.
Before we get started, I have a confession to make: I’m not that big a fan of herbal teas. I love a traditional brew – strong, but with lots of milk, and maybe a bit of sugar depending on my mood – and I’m a big fan of fruit infusions, or “tisanes” as I have recently discovered they are called. But I don’t do chamomile, I think Earl Grey tastes like drinking perfume and have never worked out how green tea manages to at once taste of nothing and at the same time be deeply disgusting. So this was always going to be an interesting experiment.
Twinings’ “Awake” blend was always going to be the biggest challenge. The cute box (sorry, I never mentioned how much I loved the packaging: this tea’s box is zesty and as sunny as Glasgow’s mornings haven’t been since last August) promised that by drinking this I would start my day “feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed”. But without my beloved caffeine, to which I seem to have developed some kind of benevolent addiction, how were myself and my anxiety disorder going to make it through the day after a night’s sleep that never seemed to be long enough?
With ginger and fiery Rooibos, “Awake” was actually really drinkable and provided a warming, caffeine-free kick. The tea also contains ginseng – a root traditionally used in the east to help clear the mind – and a sprinkling of cinnamon, which is obvious when you crack open the box. And yes: it did in fact perk me up enough to get me through to lunchtime. A definite win, and a tea I’ll happily buy for myself once my box of 20 bags runs out.
Good sleep hygiene is something I am notoriously bad at, particularly ever since the iPhone came into my life. It takes more self-control than I can usually muster to properly disconnect long enough before I go to bed in order for my brain to sufficiently switch off, and not buzz until long into the night wondering what my friends are saying on Twitter. A cup of tea, a cookie and an episode of some US sitcom or other makes a nice little routine, and properly relaxes me before I turn out the light.
Of course, drinking traditional caffeinated tea kind of makes a mockery of the whole process, and that’s where Twinings’ “Sleep” blend comes in. The tea includes herbs renowned for their soothing properties with vanilla for “a little honeyed sweetness”: lavender, hops – and the dreaded chamomile.
I have to confess that I wasn’t quite as fond of this blend, and it’s probably not something I’ll buy for myself in the future. If you like herbal teas though, it’s probably ideal. It’s a lovely, warming drink and even though I generally don’t finish the cup when I have one I do find it really soothing and a good way to wind down at night. I suppose it’s about the routine as much as anything, and having a tea carefully blended to fit into your nighttime routine really helps for those of us who have trouble switching – and drifting – off.
Both teas are available from the Twinings online shop, priced at £2.29 for 20 bags. Other varieties in the health benefit blend range include Detox, Purify and Defence.