Tea Drinking Possibly Makes A Person More Creative Than Others
Agatha Christie, the world’s best-selling author of all time, put it quite succinctly: “Tea! Bless ordinary everyday afternoon tea!”
Writer Fyodor Dostoevsky agreed, proclaiming, “I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”
And it’s not just famous authors who enjoyed a cup of tea to get the creative juices flowing. Musicians like John Lennon and Ozzy Osbourne are among its many fans, along with actors including Daniel Craig and Jack Nicholson. Artists such as Henry Matisse and Mary Cassatt used it as inspiration for what wound up on the canvas.
Is there a link between creative people and their love of tea drinking?
According to science, absolutely.
What the Research Says
There are a number of functions associated with tea consumption, not the least of which is the improvement of one’s mood, which leads to higher and more developed creative output.
As the world’s second most-consumed beverage, a number of studies have been done on the effects it has. One such study involved two creative tasks – one with building blocks and the second with the naming of a fictional restaurant. Half of the participants were given water, while the other half drank tea.
In the spatial creativity task involving the blocks, the tea drinkers scored higher in the ten minutes directly after they drank tea than those who had only water. The results in the semantic study involving the restaurant name were nearly identical, with tea drinkers outperforming their counterparts.
To get even more scientific, researchers studied the effects of two key ingredients in tea: caffeine and theanine, an amino acid that’s primarily found in black and green tea (as well as mushrooms, if you’re looking to create but aren’t feeling particularly thirsty.)
The results indicated that 100 milligrams of theanine and 50 milligrams of caffeine improved speed and accuracy when it came to completing tasks. Additionally, cognition (the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses, according to the Oxford English Dictionary) also increased, with a focus on how well the user was able to pay attention to a certain task.
Tea and the Creative Process
So tea improves cognition, but how does that relate to the creative process?
Creativity is generally separated into two categories, and we see the effects that the ingredients of a cup of tea can have on both.
The first is convergent thinking, which involves coming up with a single solution to a problem. For instance, taking three words such as ‘out’, ‘fire’ and ‘school’, and coming up with the missing word that relates to each one, which in this case would be ‘house’.
The second component is divergent thinking – coming up with multiple solutions to a question, such as uses for a specific object like a hammer.
Both of these categories require an attentive mind which, as we’ve seen, is the result of tea consumption. What’s more, even the act of preparing tea was seen to have a positive effect on creativity, as it mentally prepared the user for the task at hand.
The Other Benefits of Tea and Creativity
While drinking tea won’t necessarily give you superpowers that you didn’t previously possess, it can give a helpful boost to the tools already in your belt. The chemicals in tea, notably caffeine, assist with keeping things interesting by block adenosines, which are the natural tiredness triggers in the brain. This helps a creative person stay sharp, focused, and helps to improve abilities like writing and critical thinking.
Studies have shown that drinking a cup of tea at bedtime results in a better night’s sleep (assuming an option with less caffeine is on the table.) There is a significant correlation between being well-rested and a person’s creative ability, not to mention the health benefits that come along with it.
When it comes to the morning, black tea is helpful to increase alertness and get one started on the right foot.
Squelching Those Nerves
Some teas produce a calming effect, which can be especially useful in reducing anxiety. Making a creative presentation, displaying work in public, performing in front of an audience – all of these things can cause nervousness. Not only can tea do wonders when the pressure is on, it can actually improve mental health.
A Friend at Work
Taking breaks during periods of creativity is always a good way to ensure things don’t get too stale or mundane, and enjoying cup of tea is a good activity that helps to refresh the mind. It helps with blood flow, which in turn can increase a person’s creative ability. In fact, breaks between work on a project are often when ideas and solutions often come to the mind. The boost that tea provides enhances this.
Unfortunately, creative types know all too well that rejection is just another part of the process. One of the keys to being successful in a creative environment is to learn to accept rejection and move past it. While it can be easy to lose motivation when a project doesn’t go as planned, tea with caffeine and fresh flavors has been proven to improve one’s outlook on situations. Optimism is easier to achieve and the creativity can continue to flow.
As important as it is to be alert and focused in order to be creative, decompressing at the end of the day is equally vital to maintaining that drive over long periods of time. This is where decaffeinated tea is at an advantage. Drinking it won’t keep you awake all night, and the act of doing it can help you to analyze what you accomplished during the day and what you hope to achieve tomorrow.
Why Tea Instead of Coffee?
While both coffee and tea have caffeine, certain coffee drinks have a higher concentration of it, which can lead to jitteriness and more extreme symptoms of withdrawal when it’s not in the system. Imagine being a painter, trying to place tiny details on the canvas with a shaky hand. Not ideal for the visual artist.
While both have their benefits, tea also has a much higher concentration of antioxidants, which keep the immune system performing at peak levels. White and green teas both offer this advantage, which also limits cell damage.
Tea is also rich in polyphenols – micronutrients found in plants that are linked to lower blood pressure and levels of cholesterol. Blood pressure can increase during periods of stress, which aren’t uncommon in the creative field, especially if a deadline is approaching or a project is facing setbacks. Drinking tea regularly can help to avoid the negative effects associated with stress.
Tea Recommendations for Creative People
While we’ve looked at the overall effect tea has on the creative mind, several teas stand out as being particularly helpful in different situations.
This tea decreases stress levels, helps to stave off fatigue and can also help exercise performance. It also receives high marks when it comes to improving brain function; researchers found that subjects showed a 20% improvement over those who drank the placebo.
Asian cultures have long utilized the medicinal properties of this tea, and with impressive results. It has been shown to reduce the effects of cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s. It also helps with reaction time and improves the memory, which is especially useful in creative endeavors.
The natural taste of Ginko Biloba is a good reminder that what you’re drinking is a healthy way to do wonders for your cognition and memory. This is a tea that can also be taken as a supplement if so desired, and is taken by Alzheimer’s patients to slow the effects of the disease.
Curcumin, the chemical found in turmeric, produces a hormone in the brain that actives higher levels of cognitive abilities. The mind stays sharp, functioning at maximum capacity. It is often combined with ginger tea to help absorb the turmeric’s health benefits.
Polyphenols and catechins – an antioxidant – are abundant in green teas, which aide in improving creativity and brain function. They can help with writer’s block, inspiration and increased focus on a project.
Increased energy is also a product of green tea, and then energy will carry you longer – a lot longer, as it turns out. Studies show that cognitive impairment in older age and stress-related aging are both helped by green tea, meaning you’ll have more gas in the tank to keep creating for years to come.
Tea and Creativity
Through scientific research and the large number of benefits, both to the brain and to overall health, it’s clear that a nice cuppa tea throughout the day can vastly improve the critical thinking and functionality of the creative mind. Its many benefits have been utilized by famous tea drinkers for hundreds of years, the results of which can be found written in books, hanging on gallery walls, viewed on movie screens and heard in music all around the world.