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The right brew can help you beat the winter blues

GREEN tea has been trendy in the West for a while now, along with black-skinned fruits and yoga. But in this case, trendiness does not indicate mere faddishness. There is ever-mounting evidence that green tea (along with yoga and black-skinned fruits) is seriously good for you. A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has shown that drinking green tea “may play an important role in the prevention of depression among breast cancer survivors”. A recent Japanese study also showed that green tea combats depression in a range of sufferers. It is, in short, the ultimate brew for combating the winter blues.

Green tea contains theanine, an amino acid found almost solely in tea plants. It lends the tea its unique, earthy taste – and has also been shown to reduce mental and physical stress and improve cognition and mood in a similar manner to caffeine. Scientists say it boosts dopamine levels (dopamine is related to adrenaline), lending a boost of energy.

The daddy of green teas is called matcha: just one gramme contains 70 times more antioxidants than orange juice. A study in the American Journal of Nutrition found that regularly drinking matcha could boost metabolism by 40 per cent. It’s not cheap though: a starter matcha kit and 30g of tea can cost you up to £55 (www.cup oftea.uk.com). But if the winter is getting you down, it may be a worthwhile investment. Here are some other brews to perk you up.

HOT LEMON WATER
It may be simple but it’s the single best way to start the day (apart from a hot stone massage from a beautiful masseuse). Lemon is an antiseptic, and is known to relieve symptoms of indigestion, heart-burn and bloating as it dissolves uric acid and stimulates the bowels, effectively helping to clean you out as you empty yourself of toxins. The liver can make more enzymes out of fresh lemon juice than any other food element, so it’s a brilliant antidote to a heavy night on the sauce, too.

ROOIBOS
In the category of super-brews alongside green tea, Rooibos is grown in the Western Cape of South Africa but adored throughout the world for it’s floral, nutty flavour and its ability to soothe nervous tension, allergies and digestive problems. This is thanks to its heavy load of anti-oxidants, including asplathin and nathofagin. Its lack of caffeine makes it the perfect alternative to black and green tea. Available widely.

ST JOHN’S WORT
The British Medical Journal released a study in 1996 linking the St John’s Wort plant to a positive effect on depression, and it is prescribed that purpose around the world. St John’s Wort contains hypericin, an agent which inhibits monoamine oxidase, a chemical associated with depression. It may also help relieve chest congestion. Available widely as a tea.

YELLOW TEA
Specialist tea maker Jing has conducted a study into the levels of EGCG in its teas. EGCG is the most abundant flavanoid (anti-oxidant compound) found in tea and is said to be 100 times more potent than Vitamin C as an immune system booster. Jing’s Pre-Rain Jun Shan Silver Needle Yellow Tea had the highest concentration, The teas come in lovely little cloth sacks and Silver Needle has a light honey taste – which can only help boost mood, naturally. www.jingtea.com