12 best bedtime teas
Don't miss a wink with these herbal brews that will send you straight off to sleep
You don’t have to be an insomniac to know that caffeine in the evenings can disrupt your sleep. Thankfully, you can still enjoy a hot cuppa before bedtime, just choose something that’s caffeine free.
Better still, look to the huge range of herbal teas on offer. Not just the caffeine-free option, many herbs have been used traditionally to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, valerian and hops, to name just a few, are known for their relaxing, sedative properties. And they can be expertly combined to produce wonderful flavours.
"As herbs brew, their colourful pigments, aromatic essential oils and other powerful ingredients will seep into the hot water and create something very special", says master herbalist Sebastian Pole, founder of Pukka Herbs. Whether you prefer your drinks floral, sweet, spicy or citrussy, there’s a blend out there to satisfy. But with such a wealth of products on offer, how do you begin to choose?
We’ve worked our way through a long list of herbal teas designed to aid sleep, to bring you this shortlist of those we loved best. We gave points for eco-friendly teabags and packaging, natural, organic and fair trade ingredients, price, availability and, of course, taste. Nothing bland or boring made the grade. Sweet dreams.
Pukka Organic Night Time: £1.99, Ocado
A great value, high quality product from the reliably creative ayurvedic brand. Oat flower calms and nourishes, lavender soothes and relaxes, limeflower helps settle the mind. But as with all artfully blended Pukka teas, there are other surprises in store. We could detect some liquorice, which combined with the limeflower to give a moreish sweetness. It’s no surprise this won a Great Taste Award in 2014. For the full sleep experience, Pukka also sells a "7-day Night Time Kit", which combines the tea bags with the surprisingly effective ayurvedic night time food supplements. The perfect gift for insomniacs.
Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Infusion: £2.02, ethicalsuperstore.com
If there’s a more delicious, thirst-quenching, tummy-calming, relaxing beverage out there then we haven’t found it. Sleepytime is a unique blend of chamomile, spearmint, lemongrass, tilia flowers, blackberry leaves, orange blossoms, hawthorn, and rosebuds. It’s somewhat of a cult tea, with those ‘in the know’ quite addicted to its flavour (and fond of the cute bear snoozing by a fireside that’s illustrated on the box).
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Celestial Seasonings, a US tea company based in Boulder. Sleepytime is one of its oldest, most popular products and now comes in several varieties but this, the classic, gets our vote. The only thing keeping this from our Best Buy is it’s not as readily available as it deserves to be – you’ll find it in independent healthfood shops but not supermarkets, more’s the pity.
Clipper Organic Sleep Easy Infusion: £2, Sainsburys
A refreshing and distinctive infusion with cinnamon, chamomile, valerian, rooibos, lemon balm and natural orange flavouring. Clipper says the valerian in particular can reduce time it takes to fall asleep and improve quality of sleep. This has a strong smell of cinnamon but the orange and lemon balm make it zesty and thirst quenching. Soothing, with a (soporific) kick. Like all Clipper products this is organic, fair trade and uses unbleached, unwrapped bags. Clipper also offer a decaf black tea and Snore & Peace with a different combination of herbs – but the Sleep Easy was our favourite.
Choi Time Damask Rose Tea Buds: £19.95, Fine Food Specialist
A beautiful cork-lidded jar filled with pretty pink, naturally dried miniature rosebuds, from China’s Fujian province. You simply infuse the buds in hot water for a delicate, subtly floral drink that’s reputed to aid sleep by reducing anxiety and stress. The Chinese also use rosebuds to boost circulation and give skin a glow. The label suggests 1-4 buds per cup (one jar makes around 125 cups) and you can refill up to five times. We found the tea soothing but weak, so using four buds tasted best. This is expensive, but long-lasting and would make a beautiful gift.
Jing Chamomile Flowers Herbal Infusion: £17, Jing
This is a connoisseur’s choice chamomile tea. Biodegradable, plastic-free bags filled only with natural whole flowers. It makes a beautifully scented, bright yellow, clean and fresh cuppa. If you’re not a fan of the straw-like, slightly musty scent and taste of some chamomile teas, this one will be a pleasant surprise. And if you’re already a chamomile fan, this is definitely a superior taste. Jing have been in business since 2004 and supply teas to many Michelin-starred restaurants and fine hotels. They specialise in sourcing the best herbs and that’s certainly in evidence here. Also available as a loose tea.
Bird & Blend Dozy Girl: £5.45, Bird & Blend Tea Co
A delicious, full-flavoured blend of chamomile, lavender and rose – the inclusion of some hibiscus and lemon verbena adds a fruity note and stops it tasting too floral and soapy. The pyramid bags are generously filled and still tasty on the second refill, so while not the cheapest tea, a single bag packs a punch. Bird & Blend is a young, independent Brighton-based company with a thriving online store and seven retail shops around the UK, and this is one of many unusual, must-try products.
Taylor’s of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea Bedtime Brew: £2.29, Asda
If you’re new to herbal teas and prefer a good, old-fashioned mug of builder’s brew, this could be a good introduction. It’s a decaffeinated version of the popular Yorkshire tea, so you can add milk. The difference is it also has a hint of "cosy herbs": lemon balm, lemongrass, nutmeg and natural vanilla flavouring. An acquired taste – it lacks the depth of black tea and the flavour of herbals – but a good transition if you’re weaning yourself off caffeine. A bit of a ‘Marmite’ one, we think it’s definitely best with milk for a malty taste. And the best-value product on test.
Yogi Tea Organic Bedtime: £2.49, Ocado
A tasty, bold-flavoured ayurvedic blend with chamomile, lavender, nutmeg and valerian – traditionally used in ayurveda to reduce stress and support sleep. The blend is certified organic and also contains cardamom, lemon balm, lemongrass and sage. Plus there are strong notes of peppermint and fennel to help digestion – making this the perfect cuppa to enjoy while winding down after dinner. We love the kundalini yoga poses on each carton and yogic wisdom on each tea tag, too.
Free Soul Sleep: £8, herfreesoul.com
Free Soul is a new, female-focused health and wellbeing brand selling teas and protein powders developed by a nutritionist. Its Sleep tea is a fruity, refreshing and not overly sweet blend of licorice, lime, apple pieces, cinnamon and moringa leaves, with no one dominant flavour. This makes an interesting change if the usual chamomile or lavender sleep teas aren’t your bag. We like the cardboard cylinder packaging and modern, feminine graphics, too.
Twinings Superblends Sleep: £2, Ocado
A spiced apple and vanilla flavoured herbal infusion, with camomile and passionflower as the sleep-inducing ingredients. This was the fruitiest, sweetest-tasting tea on taste. Twinings say it’s, "reminiscent of apple pie with vanilla ice cream" and it would certainly appeal to children or those trying to curb sugar cravings. Excellent value, too.
Cupsmith Calm Days Tea: £4.25, Cupsmith
Described as "a soothing, sunny cup", this contains chamomile, lemon balm and lavender and proves that any time is good for a relaxing tea. It smells like a summer garden and makes a flavoursome, refreshing infusion that’s pleasingly strong. It comes in a charming brown paper bag that would look good on display. Cupsmith are a small, family-run company producing coffees and teas in the Surrey countryside – and if this is anything to go by, they’re doing a great job.
Solaris.Tea Organic Chamomile Dream: £15.10, Amazon
This is a delightful chamomile and rose tea from Ireland-based master blender and medical herbalist Jorg Müller, which won a Great Taste Gold Award in 2009. It’s clean, fresh and floral, a beautiful golden colour with no trace of sediment. It may only have two herbs but here they’re the perfect complement for each other and this feels like a luxurious tea (which is good given the price). The packet claims each bag can be used up to three times, although we’d suggest two at most to retain the flavour as the bags are quite small.
The verdict: Bedtime teas
For an effective, comforting and tasty infusion you can’t go wrong with Pukka’s Night Time tea. It’s widely available at all good supermarkets and healthfood stores and excellent value at around 10p per bag. If you’re willing to spend a little more, we found Bird & Blend’s Dozy Girl tea really interesting and flavoursome. Or, to push the boat out, treat yourself to some Choi Time Damask Rose Buds for the prettiest cup of calmness money can buy.
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