MISSION: GET INTO YOUR COMFORT ZONE

Find out the newest stress-busting beverage—it's probably in your cupboard right now!

You've likely already heard that chamomile tea is a real stress-squasher thanks to sedating compounds it contains.

But what if herbal tea isn't your thing and you prefer a beverage with more of a caffeine kick? Then you're in for some good news: Scientists from University of College London have just discovered that black tea—the caffeinated kind that's in teabags everywhere—is also a potent stress reducer. In their study, volunteers who drank black tea four to six  times a day had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than volunteers who drank a tea-free beverage. The tea drinkers also reported a feeling more relaxed after performing stressful tasks than the non-tea drinkers.

To get the stress-busting effects, any kind of black tea will do, including the $5 box of 100 teabags from your local market.

But for special occasions, or to impress holiday guests, you may be tempted to try one of the many new kinds of black teas that have recently hit the market. Turns out, black tea is becoming so popular, savvy tea-makers are racing to develop groundbreaking designs and include higher quality leaves in their teas, making this once for-grannies-only beverage into an easy-to-prepare gourmet indulgence.

Here are three of our favorite new black teas that can help start zapping your stress right now:

Designed to inspire

American designer Peter Hewitt, founder of Tea Forté, has elevated the teabag to an art form with handmade pyramid-shaped silken tea infusers that are topped with a playful leaf and cotton stem that rises as the tea brews. Captured inside each infuser are blends of high-quality whole leaf teas, rough-cut herbs and flowers. Completing this tea brewing experience is the Café Cup, a mug that comes with a cap that has a hole in the middle so you can brew your tea while not missing out on the fun of watching its leaf rise. Choose from five varieties of caffeinated black tea including black currant, Bombay chai, earl grey, English breakfast and forté.

Treat yourself: Tea forté, $4.95 for two tea infusers, $12 for six tea infusers, $24 for 20 tea infusers; Café Cup, $20, TeaForte.com, (800) 721-1149

Flowers in your teapot

Numi Organic Tea offers a different kind of black tea experience altogether: flowering tea. Tied into rosettes with fine thread by artisans in China, when this tea is steeped in water, it slowly "blooms" into the shape of a delicate flower. Choose from three varieties: golden jasmine, black beauty and midnight peony.

Treat yourself: Numi Organic Tea flowering tea, $8.99-$9.99 for seven blossoms, WorldPantry.com, 866-972-6879

Full of flavors

Inside every pyramid-shaped flow-through mesh teabag, Adagio Teas promises to deliver the robust, complex taste of loose tea in a convenient self-contained brew. Though they offer the traditionals, such as English breakfast, they're also known for walking down a wilder side of the tea leaf path. Choose from 21 varieties of black tea including aassam melody (malty tea that makes an ideal breakfast tea), ceylon sonata (smooth tea from the high plains of Sri Lanka), darjeeling #22 (muscatel summer tea from the Himalayas) and golden monkey (robust morning brew from coastal China. If you're not up for exotic, then sample their dozens of blends that pair black tea with more common flavors, such as orange,  almond, chocolate and banana.

On the go? Adagio offers convenient Anteadote bottled teas in several varieties including black. This all-natural unsweetened tea is made from leaves, not concentrate, uses filtered water and has a full 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.

Treat yourself: Samples start at $2 (makes 10 cups), 4 ounces, start at $7, Anteadote black tea, $2 per 16.9-ounce bottle,  Adagio.com

 

  

This month, one lucky Four Weeks subscriber will win a collection of Tea Forté products including 15 silken infusers, Café Cup and Tea Trays

 One lucky Four Weeks subscriber
will win two 16.9-ounce bottles of Adagio Anteadote: Pure Black Tea and Pure Jasmine Tea

See a full list of this month's giveaways here.

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