When to drink tea: Best time to drink tea during day & season
At what time of the day should I drink tea? This is one of the most frequently asked questions of beginning tea lovers. You might expect a quick and short answer, but the reality is that there’s much more things to consider.
Best time of the day
Best after breakfast and lunch
Tea has two benefits that can help you decide during which time of a day you should have tea.
- It supports your digestive system
- It contains caffeine that can increase energy levels
Given the above it makes sense to take tea when such benefits come in handy. For most people energy levels are low in the morning and after meals. Therefore, it’s the best to consume tea after a breakfast or lunch. The general consensus is about 20 minutes after a meal, but this figure might be different based on personal conditions.
Avoid tea in the evening
You might also long for a cup of tea after dinner. However, the side effect is that this might not be beneficial to your sleep due to caffeine. Thus, for evenings we highly suggest a herbal tea such as a Chinese flower tea such as Chrysanthemum tea, that actually helps you calm down and sleep better.
If avoiding tea during the late hours ruins your evening, then try to steep a cup with shorter steeping time. This will result in less caffeine extraction. In theory, decreasing steeping time also results in less caffeine, but this will result in a less optimal taste.
Best tea per seasons
What’s often not considered when deciding on when to drink tea, is what tea to drink during which season. A few things need to be considered:
Drink it fresh
If you buy a seasonal fresh loose leaf green tea, then of course it makes sense to drink it fresh. Fresh teas contain the most nutritions, but also taste better. See the table below tea types that are better to drink within a certain period after the packaging is opened:
- Green tea: best within 4 months
- Light oolong tea: best within 6 months
- Dark oolong tea: best within 1 year
Black teas are fully oxidized teas, and therefore it’s less urgent to consume them fresh. As long as you store them dry at normal room temperatures without exposure to direct sun light, they tend to preserve their flavor and aroma very well. With pu erh tea, there’s no urgency at all as the flavor will only become better, the longer you let it age. While you might not expect it, this is also often the case with white teas.
The above assumptions only hold for pure teas not blended with other ingredients and without any artificial flavoring added.
Best teas for Spring and Summer
Besides the fact that you should drink some teas fresh, it’s also a good idea to match teas with the weather conditions that change with seasons. Less oxidized teas such as green and white tea tend to have a ‘cooling’ effect on your body, whether you drink it hot or cold. Therefore, they are great for during spring and summer. The cooling effect of green and white tea balances your body against the hot whether.
Chinese green teas
If you’re a pu erh lover, then Sheng pu erhs have a similar effect. For oolong drinkers, it’s the best to go for light, less oxidized oolongs such as Tieguanyin.
Best teas for Autumn and Winter
During the colder seasons, you actually want to drink teas that warms your body. In such situation, more oxidized black tea is the best choice. If you love oolong, then go for a dark oolong such as Dahongpao. If you can only live with pu erh, go for a ripe (shou) pu erh, or perhaps a sheng pu erh that’s aged for more than 10 years.
Chinese black teas
Related to seasons, your body condition also changes with age. Older people tend to be more sensitive to cold. Therefore green and young white teas that have a cooling effect tend to be less suitable. These types are also more ‘raw’ and therefore are more sensitive to the stomach. This also makes it less suitable for more senior people.
- Given this, more suitable teas are:
- Aged white tea (longer aged teas are less raw)
- Black tea
- Dark oolong tea
- 10+ aged sheng (raw) pu erh tea
- Shou (ripe) pu erh tea
When not to drink tea
Yes tea is delicious, but there are times when you should just stay away from it.
- When you’re pregnant
- When you’re below 12 or sensitive to caffeine
- When you don’t feel well after drinking tea. In such case, consult a doctor.
- When your doctors says you shouldn’t drink tea.
Can I have tea all day?
As mentioned above, tea contains caffeine, so it's better to avoid it in the evening hours. Instead, go for caffeine free herbal infusions.
How many cups of tea should I take per day?
There are rules of thumbs stating 3 cups a day. However, in reality this really depends on personal conditions. If you're sensitive to caffeine then drink it only in the morning and limit yourself to 1-2 cups. If caffeine doesn't affect you much, you will be fine with about 3-5 cups.
Particularly interested in green tea? Then read this post: When to drink green tea?