When I was a kid, I hated tea.

Similar to plenty of pre–teens, I was picky with what I ate. I adamantly refused refried beans, scoffed at anything green, and turned my nose up at salads.

Tea wasn’t something I was ever forced to drink. Still, whenever I had a cold and it was suggested to me, I wasn’t excited. I thought tea was bland. It was just slightly flavored hot water, sometimes a bit sweet if you added sugar.

Then, I grew up, and I still disliked tea. For many, many years. It was only when I started getting into self–care that I actually began to voluntarily drink it.

I struggled with my mental health throughout high school and I realized how useful self-care would be for me. Self–care was simple things: taking baths, going on jogs after school, drinking enough water in a day. Along with all of the other restorative habits I adopted during my high school years came an overwhelming love for drinking tea.

It started with just a cup every other day or so, when I remembered to make some. At first, it tasted just as it always had: bland and unexciting. But as I drank it more often, I realized that the subtle hint of flavor was what made it so good. Drinks don’t need to be rich and sugary to be delicious. Still, if you want a tea that’s bursting with flavor, you can definitely find one. 

Drinking tea relaxed me. It was an amazing partner in crime for reading a sci–fi novel. It woke me up in the morning and kept me awake throughout the day. And, as I started college, tea became more than just an occasional drink—it became a daily ritual.

My first cup is always in the morning with breakfast. I usually pick from the wide variety of tea options in my kitchen, depending on my mood. I buy a ton of tea from David’s Tea, and some of my favorites are their Valerian Nights, S’mores Chai, and Japanese Sencha. Valerian Nights is a black perfume–like tea with hints of coconut. S’mores Chai is a lot richer and darker—definitely one of my favorites. And Japanese Sencha is a go–to choice whenever I need a basic green tea to really get me going.

Not only does morning tea wake me up and prepare me for the day, it makes it a lot easier to get through my early classes. As morning turns into afternoon, I add a ton of ice to the leftover tea I hadn’t finished from the morning and use that to get through my homework.

Then it’s late afternoon, and my tea options get a bit more creative. Sometimes, I’ll go out and get Thai bubble tea from Woosa (in my opinion, the best boba spot near campus). Other times, I’ll just put together something fruity and ice it. I occasionally skip the late afternoon tea, and instead have it after dinner. I have a couple different teas, including Lemon Cayenne Cleanse and Super Ginger from David’s Tea, meant specifically for your stomach that are rejuvenating so late in the day.

If all that tea isn't enough, I'll have one last cup (sometimes two, if I’m staying up very late) at around midnight. That cup of tea is a relaxing blend—often Tazo’s Chamomile Tea. I’ll pair it with a few graham crackers to prevent feeling bloated.

I drink at least three cups of tea a day, if not more. Some people might find that excessive, but to me, it’s what keeps me going. I never need coffee (although, I admit, I’m a sucker for it). For me, tea is better than coffee. As I mentioned, I’ve struggled with mental health, and have found that coffee can give me unneeded anxiety, especially when I’m studying. Tea is the perfect alternative, thanks in part to its  lower caffeine content.

I won’t go through all the endless health facts, but I will name a few. For one, tea has been proven to reduce risk of heart disease. It can widen important arteries and reduce any clots. It contains tons of antioxidants which are great for your body. On top of all that, it can reduce tooth decay and strengthen memory to prevent certain diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s later on in life.

But beyond the disease prevention and mental health improvement, tea is simply good. It’s delicious. Sure, I’m not a fan of all kinds of teas, but when you find the one that suits you, it genuinely can make your day brighter. I believe that people who don’t like tea have simply not tried the right kind yet.

So, please, go out and find your tea. There are endless options and the benefits are incomparable.