As much as we may try, it's near impossible to plan a wedding and completely avoid stress. No matter what the cause (and there are many), wedding planning can drive you to drink—coffee when you're exhausted and wine (or something stronger) when you've just had enough for the day.
But Martin Ekechukwu, president of Village Tea Company, suggests you reach for something else instead. Herbal tea, he says, is a particularly good replacement for coffee during high-stress moments. "Usually what will happen with coffee is ultimately it helps to drive more nervousness in your body. You want to stay away from things with high caffeine in it. You want to stay closer to a green tea or a white tea for some of those soothing properties."
If you're used to the caffeine but are looking to move away from the coffee, there are teas for you. "English breakfast and Earl Grey [teas] have just about as much caffeine as coffee," Ekechukwu says. "If you're looking to get a caffeine fix you're in the right place with a chai tea." The trouble with chai is brewing it well in a way that's also convenient—our expert says the key is using 50 percent water and 50 percent milk for a richer brew.
If you've ever complained about not liking herbal tea because of a bitter flavor, you may have fallen victim to one or two rookie mistakes. First, "Not all tea is equal," Ekechukwu warns. "Tea either comes as a full leaf tea or the dusty stuff. You can do a nice full leaf tea that's in a bag as long as it's not a dusty bag—a good pyramid tea bag. Or you can do a loose leaf tea." Village Tea Company sells loose leaf tea and full leaf tea pyramid bags packaged in sustainably-sourced, completely recyclable materials—good for you and the environment.
Second, the water makes a big difference. "[Use] warm water, not hot water, because warm water will bring things out naturally; hot water will burn your tea," Ekechukwu says. The water should be warm to the touch, meaning you should be able to drink it immediately without burning your tongue. "The exception to the rule is rooibos, which is actually not a leaf; it's a root. And with oolong [tea], you can go full-on boiling."
There are lots of reasons you might already be steering clear of coffee—maybe you're not a fan of the flavor, you're trying to avoid anything that messes with the look of your pearly whites, or you simply can't stomach it. Either way, there are even more reasons you should turn to tea.
Approach tea as another method of self-care. It's healthier than coffee, offering nutrients and other properties that gently nudge your body in the right direction. In the same way that you might light a lavender candle to calm your nerves or drop eucalyptus oil in a bubble bath to find your zen, tea can bring balance and calm with just a few sips. Here's how.
If you've just lost out on your favorite venue or the wedding photographer of your dreams is already booked, you're likely going to feel a lot of stress coming your way. Ekechukwu has just the thing: "I would pick up a really good chamomile lemon blend. Citrus is a property that actually helps to get your muscles nice and relaxed, and the chamomile itself is known as a soothing property for the mind. You want to balance those two things out."
When You're Tired
Maybe you've been up all night wedding planning, or you're catching a flight at the crack of dawn to check in on progress for your destination wedding. Any sleepy moment of the wedding planning process—or life—can be handled with tea. "I would go for a good cherry rooibos," Ekechukwu says. "Cherry is actually a super fruit. It's got a ton of natural antioxidants. The sugar has a small stimulant. The rooibos has a lot of polyphenols to give you that energy. You want to choose things that are naturally sweet where you don't have to add any sugar at all."
Before a Dress Fitting
We all remember that scene in Bridesmaids when they eat a super heavy lunch before heading to try on dresses. While Megan physically doesn't bloat, most of us aren't so lucky. Thankfully, there's a tea for that! "I would go for a plain lemon ginger green tea" Ekechukwu suggestions. "Green tea helps to fight bloating. Ginger is a known natural medicine—it helps to calm your body, calm your nerves, calm your skin, get your circulation going."
The Morning After the Bachelor(ette) Party
...Or pretty much anytime you need a quick hangover remedy. "There's a combination I love: green [tea], white [tea], ginger, and lavender. The green and the white teas have a bunch of antioxidant properties and completely detox you." The ginger will calm your system—and your stomach—to restore some balance as your body recovers.
When You're Working on That Wedding Dress Bod
What kind of tea works well for weight loss? "A nice, really strong peppermint tea," Ekechukwu says. "You can do your own stuff at home. I would get fresh peppermint, lukewarm to almost boiling water, and drink just straight peppermint and water. The mint itself has a property that helps suppress hunger." DIY flat tummy tea? Don't mind if I do.
When You're Shredding for the Wedding
What kind of tea should you drink right after a workout? "I kind of go back to things that give you the most oxygen back to your muscles," Ekechukwu says, "so I would go with a white tea. You can do a flavored white tea." Village Tea Company sells one infused with strawberry—natural sweetness offers good flavor without the extra stimulation you'd get from sugar.
When You Spot a Breakout Right Before the Wedding
This is one of the many week-of disasters we all fear: getting a zit (or five) right before the biggest day of your romantic life. What kind of tea should you drink every day until your skin clears up? "I would do plain white tea every day, maybe a little lemon juice, but no sugar," Ekechukwu says.
And the tea isn't just for drinking—double-team breakouts with a topical scrub. Ekechukwu suggests making one of your own using sugar, white tea leaves, and a bit of brewed white tea. Having the tea both raw and brewed will allow you to get even more of the nutrients available in the leaves.
When Your Immune System Is in Danger
If everyone at work is coming down with the flu a week before your wedding, you should brew this immune-boosting tea and chug until you're in the clear. "Lemon ginger green tea," Ekechukwu suggests.
Village Tea Company has customers who swear this blend has been the only thing they could keep down during the depths of illness—and according to them, it's what nursed them back to health, too.
The Night Before Your Wedding
In the hours ahead of the big day, particularly as you lay in bed on your final night as a single guy or gal, it might be tough to get your brain to shut off. For moments that need a calming force, "I've usually done a plain chamomile [tea] with nothing or add a slight touch of honey," Ekechukwu says. "But again, the water's got to be right; if the water's too hot it'll burn the good nutrients." Plus, that super-hot water will jolt you—and maybe even burn your mouth—while warm water will help lull you into calm.
The Morning of Your Wedding
Ekechukwu has an intimate knowledge of the nerves that can crop up on the wedding day. What did he sip that morning? Tea, of course.
"What I did on the day of the wedding—I was nervous—I did something different," he says. "I went for a really cold, plain green tea with no sugar at all. The coldness and the tartness woke me up really well because green tea has a really distinct flavor; it helps you focus." If you want something a bit sweeter, Ekechukwu suggests you go for a goji berry or açai berry with a green tea—both allow you to focus without having significant stimulations.