Tea and Coronavirus – What’s Happening?

Articles about tea (caffeinated and herbal) and health benefits aren’t anything new – they’ve been swarming the internet for a while now. But it’s only since the coronavirus pandemic that they’ve been popping up much more frequently!

I’ve also been swamped with emails from tea companies either letting me know that they’re having supply problems… or encouraging me to buy all their tea to keep their company afloat as stores close.

So, I’m creating this all-in-one guide to tea and coronavirus to paint a better picture of what’s happening in the world.

First up, coronavirus and tea for health reasons.

Is Tea Good for Coronavirus?

This mostly applies to herbal teas – if you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll see that I always include the potential health benefits of ingredients in herbal teas. Let’s make this simple for everyone.

Can herbal tea prevent coronavirus?

No.

Can herbal tea treat coronavirus?

No.

Can herbal tea cure coronavirus?

No.

Coronavirus is nasty, even the mild cases seem to be knocking people on their asses. If you have it or suspect you have it, you’re going to need medical attention. I’m not going to waste your time repeating the procedures you should follow – you’ve probably read them 100 times by now.

So, what can herbal tea do for you?

what-cha argentina misiones black tea review

Herbal tea could improve your health. It can deliver essential nutrients and vitamins that your body needs, plus there are the mental health benefits too. A good cup of herbal tea might:

  • Calm you down when you’re feeling anxiety over coronavirus (chamomile is a good one to try).
  • Hydrate you and help you get your daily vitamin intake (check out Eloments Vitamin Tea if you’re low on vitamin tablets).
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth when you can’t leave the house to buy a treat (Adagio Teas have some delicious loose leaf blends).
  • Keep your body healthy and keep your immune system up.

A good cup of tea won’t do anything for coronavirus, but living a healthy lifestyle and keeping your body fit and strong could help. The majority of casualties from coronavirus (at the time of writing) have been people with previous health conditions or poor health.

It’s not a miracle drink, but a healthy cup of tea every day as part of your #stayathome diet and exercise regime could help you and your immune system stay strong and ready to battle whatever comes your way.

Tea Shortages – Do I Need to Worry?

I’m writing this in mid-April 2020 and so far, tea shortages haven’t been a problem in the UK.

During the big rush to panic buy at the end of March, I did see that tea shelves were pretty much void of PG Tips, Yorkshire Tea and all the usual standard, “builder’s tea” brands in the supermarket.

But herbal teas and more bespoke tea brands haven’t had as much of a problem. Twinings were sold out of Earl Grey, Everyday and English Breakfast when I checked the supermarket, but picking up Twinings Green Tea or one of their fruit blends wasn’t a problem.

In the UK, my verdict is: we’re not running out of tea, don’t panic.

I also DON’T RECOMMEND stocking up on tea. Tea does go stale and I hate to think of all the wasted tea out there that’s sat around for months while we hunkered down and then thrown out later. Just buy what you need, when you need it.

Tea companies are still delivering and they’re still open for business. Tea growers and tea estates, on the other hand, are having a hard time right now and this is not good news for the long term. It depends on how long lockdown lasts in tea-growing countries as to what impact it will have on us in the UK.

I’ll cover that piece of bad news at the end of this article.

Tea Companies Still OPEN

teapro subscription box oolong tea

First of all, Amazon is still operating but there will be delays on products not considered essential, and some tea sellers might not be restocking on the platform. But so far, you’ve still got a good range of teas to pick from by shopping there.

As for shopping at individual tea stores and websites, I’ve compiled a list of popular tea companies in the UK (most have featured on our blog) and linked to their COVID-19 responses.

This data was last checked on the 14th of April 2020.

Adagio Teas – Open as usual, with possible delivery delays depending on the delivery method.

Ahmad Tea London – Open with longer processing and delivery times.

BOH Tea Malaysia – Open online for orders, but delayed processing and delivery times. Their tea centre and tea garden in Malaysia are closed to visitors until further notice.

Eloments – Main website open as usual. Their UK stockist, Ocado, is closed to new customers and is prioritising delivery slots. You may still be able to find their tea on Amazon UK.

English Tea Shop – Still available at many open stockists online, but no official COVID-19 statement as far as I can see. Check them out on Amazon UK for their full range. They have some great anxiety-calming blends.

Kusmi Tea International – Open as usual with their full range, possible processing delays and there’s a list of countries they are currently not delivering to. Luckily, they’re still delivering to the UK with delays from their main website, and you can find some of their teas on Amazon too.

Novus Tea – Open as usual, with a new range of “isolation bulk packs” if you want to stock up!

Pukka – working hard to stay open as usual with their range of herbal teas.

Pure Leaf – Appears to be open as usual and still available on Amazon and at stockists.

Teakruthi – I received an email from Teakruthi explaining that they plan to continue operating but there will be some delays, as they source their tea fresh rather than stocking up like most tea companies. They have some great wellness teas to choose from and Ayurvedic blends.

teakruthi covid 19 response

Tim Hortons – All UK stores are closed, but you can still find their teas on Amazon.

Twinings – Open as usual but with very high demand that’s causing delays in processing and delivery. They have some awesome Superblends that are good for keeping healthy.

What-Cha – Open and running as usual in the UK. I ordered 100g of India Assam Mancotta from this store last week and can confirm that it arrived like usual.

Whittard of Chelsea – All UK stores are closed, but they’re doing their best to keep their online store open. If you don’t mind the delivery delays, I recommend checking out their Fruit and Herbal Tea Section.

Teapigs – Open as usual online with delivery delays due to Royal Mail, and they’re doing their bit to help the NHS by sending key workers lovely cups of tea.

Bird & Blend – All UK stores closed, but you can buy their tea online as usual. There may be delivery delays, but their new Easter range of teas looks worth the wait.

Clipper – Open as usual online but they’re already sold out of their standard Fairtrade teabags and there will be delivery delays too.

5 Teas to Try During Coronavirus Lockdown

As I already pointed out, teas aren’t going to win the battle against coronavirus, they won’t treat it and they certainly won’t prevent it. But a good cup of tea when you’re feeling down? That can make a world of difference if you’re stuck at home alone.

These are my 5 recommended teas to try if you’re bored at home.

1. Focus Superblend by Twinings

twinings focus superblend
Image Credit: @twiningsteauk

If you head to Twinings Teashop and try to buy their ‘Defence’ Superblend, you’re out of luck. It’s a wellness blend designed to boost your immune system… and it’s completely sold out. But it’s not only the tea in this wellness range that could serve you well during coronavirus.

‘Focus’ is a mango and pineapple flavoured herbal tea, which just sounds delicious. If you’re struggling to focus at home, whether you can’t find the energy to get out of bed or you need help focusing on work in a noisy household, this is a good tea to try.

It contains white hibiscus, lemon peel, and rosehips (amongst other ingredients) which are all a good source of vitamin C. It’s also enriched with added vitamin B6, which has various positive effects on the body including reducing tiredness/fatigue, soothing anxiety (especially in women) and regulating sleep hormones.

Check out Twinings Focus Superblend if you’re finding that being locked indoors makes you lethargic and unproductive!

2. Ceylon Breakfast Vitamin Tea by Eloments

eloments ceylon breakfast tea
Image Credit: @elomentstea

This is my top choice for anyone who doesn’t like all the fruity, herbal teas I’ve been talking about. If nothing makes you happier than a standard cup of tea with an optional splash of milk and teaspoon of sugar, this is the one for you.

Ceylon Breakfast is a simple breakfast tea, but with added vitamins that you might be missing if your working-from-home diet is somewhat lacking. It contains over 40% of your daily intake of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, C and zinc. These vitamins and minerals are supplied through natural botanical extracts. For example, holy basil extract and guava extract are used instead of synthetic vitamins made in a lab.

It comes in standard teabag format so you can brew it like you would your usual cup of PG Tips. This is my recommended tea for anyone who can’t stand taking vitamin pills.

3. Ananda Veda by Teakruthi

teakruthi ayurvedic tea
Image Credit: @teakruthi

This is a green tea blend from Teakruthi that is good for calming and soothing your mind and body. Along with regular yoga sessions and nightly meditations, this tea is your path to keeping calm and carrying on through the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a green tea blend, so quite low in caffeine but still enough to wake you up a bit. That’s why I’m recommending it over a standard chamomile tea. The problem with drinking chamomile for anxiety and stress is that it can make you feel very sleepy. Not ideal!

Ananda Veda contains a mix of lavender, mint, lime flower and rosehip with fresh Ceylon green tea. The steam that rises from this tea is very therapeutic to just breathe in. The lavender will calm your senses, the mint will calm your stomach and cool your body, while lime flower can slow your heart rate and reduce your blood pressure (minimally) and rosehip is a good source of vitamin C.

Teakruthi is always good at blending teas but this one is particularly great if you need to “slow your roll” and stop overthinking things (AKA, imagining symptoms) during the lockdown.

4. Chocolate Chai by Adagio Teas

adagio chocolate chai

This is the tea I drink when I am craving something sweet but watching my weight. In the middle of lockdown, when you don’t want to risk a run to the shops for some sweet snacks, this sweet tea is your saving grace.

Adagio Chocolate Chai is a high-caffeine black tea with cocoa nibs and spices. It’s warming and comforting without weighing you down like a rich hot chocolate. When you want to feel cosy and stay in bed all day, binge-watching The Tiger King, this is the tea you should pick.

Nutrition-wise, there’s not much in this tea that will boost your immune system besides the ginger which is one of your standard flu-fighting tea ingredients. Black tea, however, does have some health benefits as it’s a good source of some antioxidants. Drinking your tea black is the best way to harness those health benefits.

5. Peppermint by Whittard of Chelsea

whittard peppermint tea
Image Credit: @whittarduk

This is a tea you should have in your cupboard. It’s just so good for refreshing and resetting your mind, plus it’s something you can drink all year-round. If you’re a bit of a pessimist (or maybe you believe you’re a realist) then you’ll want to buy tea that will last well into the summer. No matter how long the lockdown lasts, peppermint tea will always be a good choice.

These peppermint teabags from Whittard are great for cold brewing as well as drinking hot, so if the weather takes a turn for the better you can enjoy an ice-cold tea that would make your usual Starbucks barista jealous.

Peppermint is also really good for calming you down and reducing anxiety, so you can have a nice warm cup of peppermint tea before bed to get you in the mood for sweet dreams.

How is Coronavirus Effecting Tea Estates?

Back in February, World Tea News published an article about the impact of coronavirus on China’s tea harvest. This was before lockdown in the UK, when coronavirus was feeling quite far away. The conclusion the article came to was that the impact on the tea trade was a lack of sales – not a problem with the tea estates and tea pickers themselves. This was primarily because the peak of coronavirus in China was before the first harvest in mid-February 2020.

By the time the first harvest came around, tea estates/workers were prepared and had a plan ready. So, no tea was lost and the market is set to recover from the short-term loss in lack of domestic sales.

The Rest of the World

Unfortunately, that means that as coronavirus spread, other tea-growing areas of the world were hit at the worst possible time. Tea production in India, Kenya, Malaysia and elsewhere around the world has stopped completely or scaled back drastically. As Financial Times reported, India went into lockdown for 3 weeks when the first flush of Darjeeling tea should have been harvested. But now, the leaves have developed too much becoming larger and more robust – not the first flush Darjeeling that earnt the title “Champagne of Teas”. Essentially, a whole harvest is lost.

The Diplomat reported recently about the living conditions of the tea workers in India, hit by the coronavirus lockdown. Their homes, healthcare, food, and supplies are all tied to the tea plantations – without work, things have ground to a halt.

And, if you’ll allow me to go a little off-topic, the same article also gives a little insight to the workers on tea estates in Assam, India – the tea that goes into standard “builder’s” teabags.

The watchdog reviewed studies of health indicators of Assam tea workers, revealing a high incidence of anemia and infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and respiratory illness. This susceptibility to disease is attributed to poor personal and household hygiene, unsatisfactory sanitation and housing, and the absence of functioning toilets, which leads many to openly defecate.

These essential workers are more prone to coronavirus due to their unhygienic conditions. I’d like to point out that even when coronavirus blows over, these issues will still be here. If you don’t buy Organic, Fairtrade or Soil Association Certified tea, you should do.

Thankfully, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has set money aside to help the workers on tea estates. I just hope that it will be enough for now.

What Can I Do to Help?

It can be a bit daunting, reading about the big problems the world faces. But there are still small things you can do to make a difference.

  • Don’t stop buying and drinking tea. Even when it’s in short demand, it’s important to keep buying your tea to support the market and keep tea gardens open.
  • Buy tea that’s marked as Fairtrade, Organic or has a certification like Rainforest Alliance or Soil Association. Not only does that provide a better quality of tea, but it also means that the workers and farmers themselves are paid fairly for their work.
  • Support small tea stores. What-Cha, Bird & Blend, Teakruthi and other less well-known tea brands are much more likely to go under from global disasters like this. Most, if not all, of these small tea stores will have online shopping options so there’s no reason why you can’t support them from lockdown.

If you know of other tea stores that are still open in the UK, let me know in the comments below so I can update this article.

Leave a Reply