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9 best teas for sleep that make bedtime a breeze

Wind down and drift off with these fruity, floral and herbaceous infusions

Joanna Gould
Thursday 07 January 2021 09:15 GMT
<p>We tried both loose leaf and bagged teas, testing for taste, efficacy and how easy they were to make  </p>

We tried both loose leaf and bagged teas, testing for taste, efficacy and how easy they were to make

We’ve all struggled to drop off at night from time to time, but for some of us sleeplessness is a recurring and very real problem.

Whether it’s a busy mind keeping you up, waking during the night, or just poor quality sleep, sleep deprivation is no joke. Research shows that a regular lack of sleep can put us at risk of a whole host of conditions – from high blood pressure and immune deficiencies to mental health issues – and proper rest is essential for good health.

So what can we do to help ourselves get some shut-eye? Experts agree that a good sleep routine is useful; give yourself a break from screens, ensure your room is a cool, calm space and try to wind down before bed. Avoiding caffeine is a no-brainer, but the good news is a cup of something more relaxing could soon have you on your way to the land of nod.

Sleep teas are imbued with healthy herbals selected for their calming qualities: the daisy-like chamomile flower is a natural sedative, lavender supports relaxation and is thought to enhance sleep quality, while other botanicals such as valerian may reduce the time taken to fall asleep.

When looking for a sleep tea, think about flavours you usually enjoy. Chamomile is a generally unassuming slightly sweet and mellow flavour and is found in the majority of sleep teas, but if you’re not a fan there are plenty of blends with other helpful ingredients to help disguise the flowery flavour. Consider too whether you have the equipment on hand for a loose leaf tea (you’ll need a strainer or an infuser pot) or if you would rather stick with bagged teas which tend to be more convenient but not as flavoursome.

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How we tested

We tested over 25 varieties of sleep tea using a range of ingredients and assessed them on their ease of use, quality of ingredients, taste and efficacy. Here are the top nine sleep teas we think will give you the sweetest dreams.

The best sleepy teas for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Pukka night time tea: £2.99 for 20, Hollandandbarrett.com
  • Best fruity sleep tea – Vitabiotics tea+ sleep: £3.95 for 14, Vitabiotics.com
  • Best warming tea – Clipper organic sleep easy infusion: £1.45 for 20, Clipper-teas.com
  • Best chamomile tea – Mr Ames chamomile: £3.95 for 20, Mramestea.com
  • Best tasting sleep tea – Kaytea sleeping beauty: £8.99 for 50g, Kaytea.co.uk
  • Best CBD blend – Papilio elderberry, rosehip, hibiscus and hemp body soothing CBD tea: £9.95 for 10, Papilioproducts.shop
  • Best chamomile blend – Teapigs calm: £4.15 for 15, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best functional blend –  Lily Canetty-Clarke sleep tea: £8.50 for 50g, Lilycanettyclarke.com
  • Best floral blend – T2 sleep tight loose leaf icon tin: £12 for 50g, T2tea.com

Pukka night time, 20 bags

Pukka night time indybest.jpg

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

  • Type: Bagged
  • Key ingredients: Valerian, chamomile, lavender, ashwagandha

Pukka Herbs makes consistently good therapeutic teas using the principles of Ayurveda and herbal medicine, so it is no surprise that this night time tea grabs our top spot. Specially formulated by master herbalist Sebastian Pole, this tea is at once genuinely tasty and effective. It harnesses the power of valerian – a powerful root with studies to show it helps reduce time taken to fall asleep and boost sleep quality – alongside the traditional chamomile and lavender, plus ashwagandha, an Indian shrub prominent in Ayurvedic medicine. Ashwagandha is thought to help regulate stress levels, as spikes disrupt and shorten sleep duration. Made from organic, ethically sourced ingredients and packaged beautifully and plastic-free, these are always a winner for us as part of a healthy sleep routine.

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Vitabiotics tea+ sleep, 14 bags

Vitabiotics tea+ sleep indybest.jpg

Best: Fruity sleep tea

Rating: 9.5/10

  • Type: Bagged
  • Key ingredients: Rooibos, magnesium, passion flower, chamomile, vitamin C

Providing 56mg of magnesium per serving and 12mg vitamin C, this vitamin-rich tea is supplied in a 14-day course format: within four days we were dropping off earlier, more easily and sleeping more deeply, and for longer. We drank one cup of tea each day, though not necessarily at bedtime, and really enjoyed the dark fruity taste. Rooibos tends to be quite a love-it-or-hate-it taste and we’re firmly in the latter camp, but can report it was undetectable in the flavour of this tea thanks to the inclusion of blackcurrants and cherries. Passion flower and of course chamomile have well documented studies into their effect on sleep, but perhaps a good dose of magnesium is the wonder sleep ingredient we really need.

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Clipper organic sleep easy infusion, 20 bags

Clipper organic sleep easy infusion indybest.jpg

Best: Warming tea

Rating: 8/10

  • Type: Bagged
  • Key ingredients: Cinnamon, chamomile, valerian

Love the effect of chamomile but can’t get on with the flowery taste? We hear you. Consider this, then, from Clipper: its sleep easy bags are packed with warming spicy cinnamon and orange, which override the chamomile flavour and make for a delicious bedtime cuppa. Cinnamon has also been used since ancient times to improve sleep – it is thought to balance blood sugar to prevent sudden waking, and helps to unwind the body and mind naturally. With other sleep heroes like lemon balm and valerian added into the mix for good measure, this tea packs a powerful punch in your sleep hygiene arsenal. All ingredients are organic and the bags are unbleached, plant-based and biodegradable. Try the brand’s snore & peace variety of sleep tea (£2.05, Ocado.com) for a more traditional chamomile blend if that’s your thing.

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Mr Ames chamomile, 20 bags

Mr Ames chamomile indybest.jpg

Best: Chamomile tea

Rating: 8/10

  • Type: Bagged
  • Key ingredients: Chamomile

When we put a call out for recommendations for sleep tea, some of you got in touch to say that pure dried chamomile was the best thing that worked for you. And no wonder: chamomile is effective in promoting sleep as it has a sedative and relaxing effect thanks to the chemical structure of the plant, essentially acting as a natural tranquilizer. Here, then, are pure whole chamomile buds ethically sourced and hand packed into compostable teabags for ease and convenience. The flavour is distinctly floral but light, sweet and beautifully rounded. If you’ve only tried (and failed with) poor quality supermarket chamomile teas we urge you to try this.

  1. £3 from Mramestea.com
Prices may vary
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Kaytea sleeping beauty, 50g

Kaytea sleeping beauty indybest.jpg

Best: Tasting sleep tea

Rating: 8/10

  • Type: Loose leaf
  • Key ingredients: Hibiscus, chamomile, lemon balm, lavender

Combining the two big sleep hitters in the herbal medicine world – tranquil chamomile and dopamine-inducing lavender – this loose leaf blend of yellow and pink buds is certainly the prettiest tea we’ve tried. A well balanced blend of functional herbals, when steeped for five minutes we enjoyed the hibiscus flavour of this tea, with a dose of lemon balm (known to produce a calming effect) and tasty liquorice to sweeten. As with all loose leaf teas, making the time in our routine to enjoy a cup of this before bed felt indulgent, and put us in the right mindset to go off to the land of nod easily.

  1. £8 from Kaytea.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Papilio elderberry, rosehip, hibiscus and hemp body soothing CBD tea, 10 bags

Papilio elderberry, rosehip, hibiscus and hemp body soothing CBD tea indybest.jpg

Best: CBD Blend

Rating: 7/10

  • Type: Bagged
  • Key ingredients: Elderberry, rosehip, hibiscus, hemp

You can’t move for CBD products in the natural health arena these days; thought to help regulate stress hormones, reduce anxiety and boost REM sleep. This tea uses futura 75 hemp flowers to deliver 15mg of CBD per bag along with warming herbals – elderberry, rosehip and hibiscus – to help soothe the body ready for a deep sleep. Elderberry is the primary flavour, giving the tea a wintry fruity taste, with just a hint of rosehip and hibiscus. While we didn’t feel noticeably more relaxed after trying a cup, we enjoyed the flavour of this tea, which offers a good alternative to many floral tasting sleep teas.

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Teapigs calm, 15 bags

Teapigs calm indybest.jpg

Best: Chamomile blend

Rating: 7/10

  • Type: Bagged
  • Key ingredients: Valerian, chamomile, lemon balm, lemongrass

The primary ingredient in this tea is organic chamomile, followed by a healthy dose of lemon balm and lemongrass and a dash of valerian root to ensure a super-restful blend of natural herbals. We enjoyed the chamomile flavour with slight citrus twist, and this is a good tea for those of us who don’t enjoy the lavender flavour that so many blends use with chamomile and valerian; the Great Taste Award panel agree that it’s pleasant too. Our ongoing issue with Teapigs bags is that while they are laudably plastic-free, they sometimes split when you separate the tag from the bag, so we’ve docked a point for this. Splitting aside, building this into your pre-bedtime self-care is sure to make you feel calmer and ready for a peaceful night’s sleep.

  1. £4 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Lily Canetty-Clarke sleep tea, 50g

 Lily Canetty-Clarke sleep tea indybest.jpg

Best: Functional blend

Rating: 8/10

  • Type: Loose leaf
  • Key ingredients: Lavender, lime flower, vervain, passion flower

Lily Canetty-Clarke is a medical herbalist with an interest in Ayurveda who makes functional herbal products from her clinic in Bristol. She prepares blends for a range of health complaints, and this sleep blend is a winning formula of lavender, linden blossom (lime flower), vervain (or verbena) and passion flower. We’ve mentioned lavender pretty extensively, but vervain is seen less often, though research has shown it to be beneficial for insomniacs. Passion flower too has a body of evidence to show that it helps to increase the neurotransmitter GABA, which in turn regulates mood and calms the body and mind. We like the subtle floral flavour from lavender – the other herbs don’t taste floral – and felt more relaxed and rested after drinking it regularly.

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T2 sleep tight loose leaf icon tin, 50g

T2 sleep tight loose leaf icon tin indybest.jpg

Best: Floral blend

Rating: 7/10

  • Type: Loose leaf
  • Key ingredients: Lemon balm, lavender, jasmine, rose

Pure floral botanicals make up this divine smelling sleepy tea with whole rose petals, relaxing lavender and jasmine flowers nestling with dried lemon balm (believed to combat restlessness), but don’t be put off if florals aren’t really your thing. This tea has been skilfully blended to showcase the botanicals’ gentle natural sweetness and is well balanced with no obvious overriding flavour, so it’s delicate and mellow rather than being an overly perfumed cuppa. A cup of this incorporated into your nighttime routine feels like a luxurious way to start winding down for a restful sleep – and we really like the pretty tin.

  1. £12 from T2tea.com
Prices may vary
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The verdict: Teas for sleep

The Pukka night time tea scored highest and secured our best buy award, as the tea ticks many boxes: it tastes good, it’s ethical and environmentally friendly, and its plethora of carefully chosen herbal ingredients really work, so we’d point any insomniac in its direction first. We were taken aback by the result of the Vitabiotics tea too, so this could also be worth a try to combat your sleepless nights. Aside from these, take your pick of the various floral and botanical blends which could help relax you before bed; build them into a regular routine for best effect.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on teas and other groceries, try the links below:

We’ve also found the best CBD teas to help you relax, unwind and get cosy this winter

To add to your comfort when sleeping, try one of the best mattress toppers

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