(CNN)Call it quarantea. Every day at 3 p.m. since the UK imposed coronavirus-related restrictions in mid-March, Laura Seabright, a London-based teacher, and her family have enjoyed afternoon tea.
Why drinking tea might just help in a crisis
The kids make cupcakes or other baked treats, and tea is served from a traditional English tea set Seabright inherited from her grandmother.
"The kids love it. They're always asking about things to make for tea. They've definitely embraced the ritual," she said.
Seabright said it's been a good opportunity to get the family together and build in time to relax during busy days juggling work and homeschooling with three kids under 10. She hopes they'll find a way to keep up their daily teatime once the children are back in school and daycare.
For centuries, tea has been used for far more than quenching thirst. Around the world people drink it to relax, reinvigorate and soothe, and it's something we need now more than ever.
In the UK, where tea drinkers imbibe 100 million cups every day, according to the UK's Tea Advisory Panel, the beverage remains part of the national psyche — despite a growing preference for lattes, espressos and flat whites. The sentiment that a restorative cup of tea makes everything better still holds true.
With tea consumption growing around the world, the United Nations has designated May 21 the first ever "International Tea Day."
Even in the United States, long a coffee-dominated country, tea drinking is growing in popularity, with people consuming 0.4 kg (14 ounces) a year compared with 0.36 kg (12.7 ounces) in 2007 according to the United Nations, as people switch away from soda, milk and fruit drinks.
Scientists are beginning to look into just how tea might affect mood and cognition. Specifically, they're investigating whether it's relaxing and alerting effects are a direct biological outcome of the compounds in tea or whether they come from the context in which the drink is consumed — preparing your brew, choosing your favorite cup and sitting down for a brief respite from the world. Or both.
Green and black tea come from the same plant — Camellia sinensis. Green tea, however, is processed in a different way, which results in higher levels of some of the compounds that scientists believe have positive effects on our mental health.