As a new season approaches, it’s common to turn our minds toward rejuvenation—detoxifying ourselves from what’s not serving us and refocusing on what nurtures us.
Tea, both true tea—made from the tea plant Camellia sinensis, including green, white, and black teas—and certain herbal infusions, can help in the physical process of detoxification by supporting the body’s metabolic and natural detoxification processes. These teas can also work to detoxify our mental state by helping to clear away stress, anxiety, and emotional blocks that may be weighing us down.
Guided by Jude Wang of Cultivate Tea, we take a deeper look at how tea helps to detoxify and refocus the mind and body to enhance overall well-being.
Detox for the body
Our body’s detox tools include
- a liver to process and eliminate harmful substances
- kidneys to filter out waste
- a gut that works to protect us from parasites and move waste along
- an immune system to neutralize and eliminate foreign invaders
- lungs to filter out dangerous particles
Wang, who has a university background in biology, acknowledges that the human body is well equipped with the tools it needs to detoxify itself. He suggests that, more than a particular herb or ingredient, a healthy lifestyle is the best way to support our body’s detoxification processes.
The value of doing less
Wang explains that, while certain teas may be particularly helpful to physical detox, sometimes it is more about giving your body the space and time to carry out the self-care that it has been designed to perform.
“Sometimes detox is about doing less,” says Wang. “These days, detoxing our mind and soul can be so much more important to think about than physical detoxing.”
That’s where the ritual of tea comes in.
Wang points out that our fast-paced, modern culture can often treat tea with a transactional attitude. “We have a tendency to think of it in terms of what it can give to us: tasting notes, health benefits.”
Wang believes that tea provides the opportunity for a more nuanced experience: a chance to slow down, declutter the mind, acknowledge emotions, and nurture meaningful bonds with others. Time out to tune in.
The tea experience for mental detoxification
Sitting down with Wang to share the ritual of tea is a fluid experience that is tailored to the tea being served and the person, or people, he is sharing it with. Wang notes that it doesn’t so much matter how your tea ritual is conducted but, rather, the spirit in which it’s carried out.
From experiencing the look and smell of the leaves, watching them unfurl as they steep in the water, exploring the taste and mouthfeel—and how it evolves through multiple steepings—Wang values the meditation that tea provides.
“Tea brings you here. It brings you to the present moment,” says Wang. “Everyone has their own experiences of tea. But it’s a gateway to understanding more about yourself. Caring for yourself.”
The power of tea ceremony
Research shows that tea ceremonies enable participants to share common emotions, capture a sense of personal progression, improve concentration, and increase feelings of mindfulness. Further, the act of preparing and drinking tea has been found to help curb stress and boost psychological well-being.
Finding meaningful rejuvenation
Wang suggests that, if you come to tea with an open mind, its power can be transformative and its contribution to daily life invaluable. “It’s something so simple. It’s just tea leaves. But at the same time, it has so much behind it.”
While science continues to unlock the full scope of tea’s health benefits, Wang finds that the true value of tea has long been honored by ancient traditions. “Good tea embodies care, and through that, I hope that people will learn to care about themselves and care about other people around them.”
Herbal detox supporters
Whether steeped alone or blended with another tea, these herbs may be particularly helpful in supporting your body’s natural detoxification processes.
|Herb||How it may help support detox|
|dandelion||by helping to cleanse liver and blood|
|burdock||by boosting detoxifying liver enzymes|
|ginger||by supporting gut health, immune system, and lung function|
|turmeric||by helping to protect the liver from oxidative damage|
|milk thistle||by helping to protect the liver from damage|
|rooibos||by providing antioxidants to help protect the liver and boosting detoxifying liver enzymes|
|nettle||by helping to protect liver and spleen from damage|
Tea (Camellia sinensis) contains chemicals that may be particularly effective in supporting detoxification and well-being.
Catechins are a type of flavonoid that may help support healthy organ function, beneficial gut flora, and bowel function—all of which play an important role in the body’s ability to detoxify itself.
Caffeine may provide beneficial effects to the liver, repairing and protecting against chronic damage to this important detoxifying organ.
L-theanine may help improve mood, concentration, and sleep, while reducing stress and feelings of anxiety.
Favorite teas for detoxification
“Our bodies are very smart, and our liver is particularly excellent at detoxing, but there are things that we can do to help it,” says Jude Wang. For this reason, Wang says he has many customers who come in to ask him about what teas are best for helping their systems to detoxify. Among Wang’s favorite recommendations are pu’erh, white tea, and chrysanthemum.
Coming from China’s Yunnan Province, pu’erh tea utilizes active fermentation. “It’s alive; it’s fermenting and changing as you age it because of inherent bacteria on the leaves,” says Wang. He explains that the fermentation of pu’erh creates enzymes that are supportive to your body, making it “very good for detox.”
Made from the same plant as green tea, “white tea is very nurturing, very supportive for your body,” says Wang. He explains that, because the tea leaves have never been heated, white tea retains its high levels of antioxidants and offers powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. “It has traditionally been used as a medicine.”
An herbal tea made with the flowers of the chrysanthemum plant, this tea has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to “cool excess heat and bring the body back into balance,” says Wang. “It’s very good for the liver.”