Working all hours, keeping an eye on the children or off the sauce ‘til Easter? John Underwood recommends some of the best calming teas this World Sleep Day
There’s no such thing as a normal day any more. Take any space on the calendar and you’re guaranteed to find a laundry list of suggested observances, from the religious to the material (via a surprising number of snacks). Today, for example, is the feast day of Saint Alexander of Jerusalem, the momentous 78th anniversary of Mexico’s expropriation of oil reserves, and America’s ‘national lacy oatmeal cookie day’. Yesterday was St Patrick’s Day, whilst tomorrow will be Father’s Day in Belgium. And so on.
Today marks one of the more worthwhile of these neofestivals - the ninth World Sleep Day. With a good night’s sleep increasingly under attack from city noise, working across different time zones and our efficient but punishing ‘always on’ corporate culture, it’s never been harder to switch off at the end of the day. So this week’s Food Friday is focusing on some of the most sought-after sleep teas on the market, with an emphasis on flavour as well as efficacy. Valerian root may work wonders, but that shouldn’t mean having to taste it.
Fortnum & Mason Green Darjeeling
Ideal if you’re a black tea drinker who can’t get on with herbal infusions, this delicate Darjeeling is simply picked and dried; next-to-no oxidisation means a very low caffeine content, so it won’t keep you up. Classic black Darjeeling often includes green and oolong leaves, so this will taste more familiar than, say, a green Assam.
Hope & Glory Chamomile Tisane
Known to the ancient Egyptians as a cosmetic, chamomile has been used medicinally for at least two millennia, and its ability to combat stress and insomnia is well-documented. Organic tea producers Hope & Glory use whole chamomile heads to produce this gently soporific tisane, which is available bagged or loose.
Clipper Organic Sleep Easy Infusion
Chamomile and valerian - the usual suspects - are mixed with orange and uplifting cinnamon in this pleasantly spicy brew. Clipper, the UK’s first Fairtrade tea company, also offers a comforting glow of eco-smugness that’s just the thing at bedtime; its various teas and tisanes roll off a solar-powered production line in Dorset.
Hop Shop Sleepy Tea
Hops may be most popular as a sleep aid when made into beer, but this infusion uses Kentish hops and lavender in a traditional remedy from the Garden of England. Hop Shop, a family farm near Shoreham, also offers a hop-and-lavender ‘sleep pillow’ that complements its bedtime blend (and can work wonders when dealing with restless children).
Yumchaa Wild Rose
Produced by a small London-based company that also runs several teashops, Wild Rose is a delicate white tea mixed with rose petals and mint leaves. Almost caffeine-free, white tea is made only from the leaf buds and top two leaves of each tea plant, and has even more claimed health benefits than green tea. Carefully packed to maintain the integrity of the unbroken leaf buds, Wild Rose makes a perfect late-night drink (or the ideal base for a vodka cocktail… provided you’re not teetotal for Lent).