Cosy up for Brew Monday
This year, let’s swap Blue Monday for Brew Monday. Coined by the Samaritans as a way to banish the January blues, Brew Monday encourages us to share a cuppa with family and friends. We’ve asked tea expert Nadine El-Hage to share her thoughts on how hot drinks can brighten your day; plus two top brews to stir up at home (and how to best enjoy them).
A BREW FOR TWO
Builder’s tea, peppermint, zesty lemon, coffee, hot chocolate… who doesn’t love having a warm cup to cosy up around? Using ingredients from nature to make a hot drink isn’t a new idea; the practice is thousands of years old and is known for its perceived medicinal properties. Studies even show that holding a hot drink makes us friendlier. But what exactly is it about a cuppa that makes us feel so good?
Well, the act of making tea itself is calming. It’s a moment to drop into the senses, a mini-ritual in the everyday; heating the water, choosing the tea, waiting for it to infuse, enjoying the taste and aroma – it’s a break from our busy thoughts. And then there’s the ingredients. The tea plant doesn’t just give us a dose of caffeine, it also contains incredible natural chemicals such as L-theanine. Studies show that this helps to increase alpha brainwave activity in a similar way to meditation. Similarly, the cocoa in our hot chocolate helps produce serotonin (the happy hormone), which boosts feelings of contentment. Some of the most soothing ingredients for hot infusions are chamomile and rose. Their relaxing effect can calm the mind and even help prepare us for sleep. Such drinks can also give an extra hit of nourishment and hydration during the day.
Then there’s the power of connection. Sharing a conversation over a cup of something hot can boost our wellbeing. We’re social creatures, and studies show that no matter how we socialise, over zoom or over the phone, exchanging in small talk with someone helps us have a more positive day overall. Perhaps all these feel-good factors explain why we drink so many cups of the stuff. In Britain, we drink around 165 million cups of tea a day (enough to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools). Pop the kettle on and let’s get brewing…
Brews to try
This floral infusion has a warming effect due to the mix of spices, and sweetly soothes with chamomile, vanilla and rose – perfect for cosying up with a good book, or sharing a pot with a friend on a cold winter’s day.
- 2 tbsp loose chamomile flowers
- 2 tsp rose petals
- 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
Serves 2 Time 10 mins
- 3 drops vanilla extract
- 2 twists black pepper
- 1 tsp organic honey
- Fill the kettle with 600ml fresh cold water and switch on to boil.
- Put the chamomile flowers, rose petals and cardamom into a teapot (glass, if possible). Pour in the boiled water, infuse for 5–10 mins, then add the vanilla, 2 twists of a pepper mill and stir. Strain into cups and stir in honey to taste. Serve without milk.
- Repeat the infusion with fresh boiled water, if desired.
Known for its soothing properties, cocoa powder is the star ingredient in this delicious chocolate brew. There’s also a kick of spice for added warmth. Yum.
- 4 tsp organic cocoa powder
- 1⁄4 tsp ground ginger
- Pinch of chilli powder (optional)
Serves 2 Time 10 mins
- 600ml milk of choice
- 1 tbsp Maple Agave
- Put the cocoa, ginger and chilli in a medium saucepan and add a splash of water.
- Warm on the hob while mixing into a paste with a whisk.
- Slowly add in the milk, whisking constantly, until the consistency is smooth and creamy. Remove from the heat when the liquid is hot enough to drink (after around 5 minutes on a low heat).
- Stir in the maple agave and pour into your favourite mug or cup.
HOW TO BEST ENJOY YOUR CUPPA
The act of expressing gratitude is brilliant at helping us focus on all the good things in our lives. Give these brew-friendly exercises a go:
- Sit comfortably with your cuppa and think back over the year. Is there a recurring thing or person you are grateful for? Take some time to think about this – make notes if it helps. If it’s a person, let them know how you appreciate them.
- If you’re sitting down with a friend or family member, pick an experience each in your life that you are grateful for, then share your stories.
- Pay your fellow tea-drinker an honest compliment. See how the gratitude registers within them, then notice how that also makes you feel.
- Take a brew when you head out for a walk, and take in all you see – the sky, trees, leaves. Nature shows us a great deal to be grateful for, and it’s a reminder that there’s a whole world of reasons that can spark our gratitude. Let your imagination roam free.
Find your favourite blend on-site, from spiced infusions to fruity teas.