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Tea for Two: The perfect teas for pregnancy and beyond

We spoke to HotTea Mama co-founder Bethan Thomas for her expert advice on the perfect brew, her ‘Tea-Total’ guide to tea and the perfect iced-tea recipes for mums-to-be and new mums.

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We’re a nation of tea obsessives and there’s nothing quite like a cup of tea to calm the senses and give you a few moments of peace. There’s tons of evidence out there to show that teas may boost your immune system, fight inflammation, encourage better gut health, reducing blood pressure and even ward off certain diseases. Not to mention the calming impact and that all important moment of mindfulness while the kettle boils.

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So, what to do when you want to fall pregnant or actually fall pregnant, and suddenly you can’t wind down with a good old-fashioned cuppa? Pregnant women are limited in what teas they can indulge in, mostly due to the caffeine content and a few ingredients that can actually cause problems. There’s never been a more important time to relax, so what are the options for tea-loving mamas out there?

Tea Expert, or as she affectionally known ‘Tea Nerd’ Bethan Thomas (below) saw a gap in the market for delicious, yet safe to drink teas when she was expecting her first baby, and HotTea Mama was born. Now selling over a million teabags a year Bethan strives to inform her followers about what is safe to drink, and exactly when to start introducing different ingredients.

bethan thomas
Tea Nerd: Bethan Thomas, co-founder of HotTea Mama
I’m constantly looking for natural ways to support women and their bodies through the joys - and challenges - of womanhood. Pregnancy shouldn’t mean we have to suddenly start drinking tasteless, uninspiring teas. Tea provides such comfort: I wanted to make women feel supported within our tea-loving community, and the added health benefits of the teas can be even more reassuring.
Bethan Thomas, co-founder of HotTea Mama

Tea for Every Trimester

Here’s a trimester-by-trimester guide on which teas will support your amazing body at some of the most exciting – and sometimes most challenging times – when you might especially need a soothing brew and a moment of calm.

FERTILITY & PRE-CONCEPTION STAGE

“If you’re trying to get pregnant, try to keep your caffeine intake to under 200mg per day,” says Bethan. “This is basically one cup of coffee and one cup of tea, but you can find a great caffeine calculator hereGet Up & Glow is a great caffeine alternative. The natural citrus kick is a natural way to ‘get you going’ in the morning too – a slow energy release to get you through the day, without resorting to coffee.

FIRST TRIMESTER

“Make sure you avoid too much caffeine again – under 200mg is the NHS guidance.  And also avoid liquorice (it can raise your blood pressure and is in a lot of caffeine free blends) and raspberry leaf at this stage.”

We recommend our Morning Rescue to help with morning sickness and nausea. Whole leaves of lemon verbena, lemon balm, African mint and lemongrass combine with pieces of root ginger for a soothing cuppa. The ingredients have all been used for millennia to ease nausea, and some small scale research now believes that this is due to the gingerols in the ginger, and citrals in the lemon-y ingredients that are both anti-inflammatory.”

SECOND TRIMESTER

“As you hopefully start to feel better after the rough first trimester, you may find that pregnancy insomnia kicks in. It’s the worst! Tossing, turning, hormonal issues – anxiety about the big arrival has probably started to well and truly kick in. Night Owl can help aid you dropping off, with the ingredients valerian, chamomile and lavender having wonderful anti-anxiety properties, promoting a soothing sleep.”

THIRD TRIMESTER

Contrary to popular belief, raspberry leaf won’t induce labour at this stage. However it does start to help strengthen uterine muscles and I recommend introducing Final Push it from 32 weeks onwards. Raspberry leaf is also linked to shorter second stage labour and fewer interventions in birth. Whole peppermint leaf will ease digestion as you get more full of baby!”

FOURTH TRIMESTER / BABY’S HERE

“Once your baby arrives, Milk’s Up tea can help support your milk supply (you can even start drinking it from 37 weeks in combination with hand-expressing colostrum). The caffeine-free blend of fennel, nettle, fenugreek seeds, lemon verbena and star anise. These are natural galactagogues – a substance that increases milk supply. Oats also fall into this category so boost your energy with an oat cookie – there are tons of recipes online, and they go so well with tea!

If you’re breastfeeding, try drinking Night Owl Tea 1 hour before the final feed of the day.  Your baby will get some of the calming properties through your breastmilk and it can make putting them down for bed a little bit easier hopefully,” Bethan says. “Caffeine is going to be a big no-no so try and stick to caffeine-free when feeding your baby, and chamomile, lavender and valerian root can have a soothing impact on you both. These ingredients are also great for those who may be suffering from anxiety, so overall a wonderful way to drift off to sleep.”

Newborn Wonder can give you a slow release caffeine boost when you need it. It is the only tea in the range that contains caffeine: a little more than your average cup of English Breakfast, but a little less than coffee. It is full of antioxidants, and the rosebuds create a soothing, rejuvenating blend. The tea also contains theanine. This is an amino acid which encourages the caffeine to be released slowly, so you’ll receive a long, steady release of caffeine. And try to avoid sugar crashes at the moment – I suggest using honey or agave syrup. They are much better for your health and have a more complex flavour too.”

POST-PARTUM

Mums can suffer from iron levels dropping post-partum. There’s also evidence to suggest that tea can help you with your iron levels too. Bethan says, “I’ve seen research to suggest that your usual cup of black tea – that we’ll traditionally have with milk and sugar – can prevent us from absorbing non-haem iron from food, especially if we drink it around mealtimes. Non-haem is a type of iron found in plant foods, vegetables, cereals, beans and lentils and isn’t as easily absorbed by the body as say the iron found in meat.

Try swapping your black tea for something like Get Up & Glow, which has a grape base and means you’ll get a slow release of vitamin C into the body, which is the all important vitamin for iron absorption. That very light natural sugar lift is also the perfect way to replicate caffeine, so you’ll get a bit of a lift. A small glass of orange juice with your meal will also really set you on the way to getting that iron that you need.

GOOD TO KNOW: Our teas are great in the hot weather too! 

In the summer or on hot days make a jug of iced tea and keep it in your fridge – it’s a great way to hydrate without refined sugar in cold drinks, and will last you throughout the day!  Simply make it the night before – put 3 tea bags per 750ml – 1 litre jug and cover the tea bags with freshly boiled water.  Top up with cold water and pop in the fridge. By the time it’s morning, it will be lovely and strong but not bitter – using cold water stops too many tannins being pulled out and making it bitter.”

WHEN PERIODS RETURN

“This can be an extremely challenging time for many, with the cramps being intense and PMT going haywire, while your body adjusts to menstruation.

Tea can be a great natural support to help with your wellness, offering a holistic way to ease cramping, moderate moods, balance hormones and regulate periods. Over The Moon is blended with raspberry leaf, chamomile flowers, ginkgo, spearmint, dandelion root and rose petals. I recommend that you drink the tea throughout the month, preparing your body for your period. There are  active elements of the botanicals which have been scientifically linked to strengthening your uterine muscles – meaning cramping will be less severe.”

MENOPAUSE

Whether you are going through pre-menopause, perimenopause, menopause or postmenopause, Bethan’s blend has active ingredients to help. Raspberry leaf can lessen heavy menstrual flows, Ginseng to help with mood changes and improve sleep, Green Tea to support bone strength and prevent weight gain, Gingko Bilboa to improve blood circulation and cognitive function and Liquorice to reduce the occurrence and length of hot flushes. Finally Valerian ties them all together to reduce stress and anxiety that this time brings. 

“I recommend this tea iced,” says Bethan. “It’s really easy to do – just leave 3 or 4 teabags in a water jug overnight in the fridge. Serve with ice for a refreshing drink to combat any hot flushes.”


Tea Recipes: HotTea Mama Recipes for Women

From conception through the menopause, Bethan and her team at HotTea Mama want to support and encourage women to share their experiences over a cuppa. So she has shared some recipes especially for Junior:

tea for mums

GET UP & GLOW SPARKLER

This sweet, sparkling fruity hit, is a perfect punch substitute!  We’re tempted to make a pitcher of it and enjoy alone at a paddling pool party…

Ingredients:

  • 2 Get Up & Glow tea bags 
  • 50ml freshly boiled water
  • 50ml sparkling water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 5 Mint Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup

Method:

  1. Put the kettle on to boil.
  2. Add 2 Get Up & Glow tea bags to your favourite mug.
  3. Add the boiling water and leave to brew for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and stir in the honey or agave until mixed in.  Allow infusion to cool.
  4. Then add plenty of ice to a serving glass. Pour the iced tea over, top up with sparkling water.
  5. Garnish with lime wedges and mint, serve.
Hottea drink

FINAL PUSH MOJITO

The classic minty, lime combination with a hint of sweetness and raspberry leaf too… oh so refreshing!  Suitable from 32 weeks, it’s the perfect way to prepare for labour in the heat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Final Push tea bags 
  • 50ml freshly boiled water
  • 2 Limes (1 cut and quartered)
  • 5 Mint Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Muscavado Sugar
  • 50ml Soda Water/Lemonade

Method:

  1. Put the kettle on to boil.
  2. Add 2 Final Push tea bags to your favourite mug.
  3. Add the boiling water and leave to brew for 7 minutes.  Remove the tea bags and let it cool.
  4. In this time, add the wedges of lime, the mint leaves and sugar to your glass, use a muddler to mash the mint leaves & lime in the glass
  5. Then add plenty of ice to a serving glass. Pour the iced tea over, top up with soda or lemonade (depending how sweet you like it) and enjoy!

hot tea cocktails

MORNING RESCUE ‘G & TEA’

A sweetly zingy, citrus hit.  You can swap soda water for lemonade if you like it super hot, but we recommend it without!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Morning Rescue tea bags
  • 50ml freshly boiled water
  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup
  • 50ml soda water
  • Ice
  • Slice of lemon
  • Rosemary sprig

Method:

  1. Brew the tea bags in your favourite mug for 5 minutes, then strain.
  2. Combine tea with honey and stir until the honey is dissolved. 
  3. Allow to cool.
  4. Add ice, a slice of lemon and a rosemary sprig.
  5. Gently stir and pour into a glass and top with soda water to serve.

>> HOTTEA MAMA costs from £6 a for a box of 15 teabags and is available at HotTea Mama, Amazon and notonthehighstreet

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Each teabag can be used twice to create 30 cups of tea from a box. All teas are wholeleaf, vegan and gluten free. Teabags are plastic-free and biodegradable – add them to a food compost bin.