In doing a bit of research on one of the most popular beverages in the world, one is bound to learn a thing or two. At the risk of propagating the stereotype of the ignorant or unworldly American, raise your hand if you knew that “Earl Grey” was a title used by nobility in the United Kingdom—and not just the name of a type of tea. It’s true! Legend tells us the tea’s namesake was the second Earl Grey (there have been a total of seven), Charles, who also served as British Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834. What we don’t exactly know is how the tea came to bear the Earl Grey name, though there are plenty of stories floating around out there that make this part of the legend as murky as the tea itself.
In addition to tasting great, Earl Grey provides a variety of health benefits that can include an increase in energy, boost in immunity, and help with digestion and heart health. While many people enjoy the black tea on its own, others turn to additives like milk and sugar. But hardcore tea enthusiasts are also broadening their horizons beyond these conventional accouterments—and they’re taking advantage of the added benefits associated with these mix-ins. We’ve put together a list of some of the best additions to complement your tea and how they do your body good.
Let’s start with the basics. Honey is a popular addition that tea drinkers will add to their cups to sweeten the blend and improve the taste. But this thick and viscous bee product is rich in antioxidants, which scientists have linked to a reduction in heart attacks, strokes, and certain cancers. Honey can also improve cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides, making it a healthier option than refined sugar.
We’ve all heard about the role Vitamin C can have on our immune system, but did you know it also reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke? According to Healthline, a single lemon is worth 51% of your reference daily intake. While findings from studies aren’t conclusive, there are also signs indicating lemon juice can prevent kidney stones. Lastly, there’s research that shows the soluble fiber in lemons improves gut health.
We all heard about the benefits of drinking milk from an early age, including its ability to increase bone strength, smooth skin, and help us relax. But milk also protects the enamel surface of our teeth from acidic substances and improves our intake of critical vitamins and minerals.
There’s something about cinnamon that just feels, smells, and tastes like the holidays. You can dissolve cinnamon in any kind of herbal tea to help mask any natural bitterness. But like some of the other additives we’ve talked about here, cinnamon is rich in antioxidants. Research also shows that cinnamon can relieve muscle soreness and defend against some neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Here’s another surprising natural sweetener that offers a bevy of benefits. When it’s in its pure form, this sweet and sticky delight has tons of minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. It can also lower blood glucose levels and even display anticancer properties.
There are few things more refreshing than fresh mint, so it makes sense that it would make our list of tea additives. It also boasts its fair share of health benefits. Spearmint features a ton of vitamins and nutrients, including Vitamin A, which is important for eye health. Mint can improve the condition of our stomachs, particularly when its battling ailments like irritable bowel syndrome and indigestion. Plus, as anyone that has chewed gum knows, mint is very effective at concealing bad breath.
While mint is helpful for tummy health, one of the best things you can do to take care of your gut is to consume ginger. Ever wonder why your Mom had you drink ginger ale when you had a stomachache? Research shows that ginger is an effective tool to combat the symptoms of nausea and vomiting, especially during pregnancy. Sipping on some tea with ginger after a big meal can also help you digest your food faster to relieve that dreaded discomfort and bloat.
If earthiness is your flavor of choice, fresh-picked basil should be right up your alley. After you chop up your basil, you can steep the leaves in your tea to let the flavor and benefits infuse with the liquid. Some of the most helpful benefits of basil include that it can act as an anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, immune booster, and stress reliever.
There’s a type of tea for everyone, no matter their passion—including, well, passionfruit tea. But it’s not just tea’s diversity and versatility that makes it so great. The most interesting thing about tea is that you can dress up it up with so many flavorful additions. From sweet options like honey and cinnamon to earthy flavors like ginger and basil, the possibilities are nearly endless. And so are the health benefits.