It’s in the tea leaves: Study says one cup a day boosts creativity

One cup of tea a day can be enough to keep your writer’s block at bay. A new study in the journal Food Quality and Preference found that just one cup of black tea had the power to spark creativity long after participants drank the brewed tea leaves.

Study: Drinking tea boosts brainpower

To test this, a research team in China recruited 40 students to come to the lab to complete a creative, innovative test: dreaming up the perfect name for a ramen restaurant. The students were given the following instructions: “There is a newly opened ramen (noodle) shop, and we are recruiting shop names for it. Please write as many names as possible that you think are cool and attractive within 20 min.”

Before the students had to think of creative restaurant names, the researchers first served them warm cups of water or cups of Lipton black tea brewed at the same temperature.

The tea leaves had an outsized effect on the participants. Independent raters found the tea-drinkers’ names to be more creatively innovative than the water drinkers. Overall, the researchers found that tea drinking was linked to enhanced divergent thinking, the part of our brains associated with generating original ideas and solutions to problems.

Tea can stimulate creativity

The researchers theorize that the ritual of tea drinking can unlock the creative parts of our brains because we are primed to associate tea drinking with positive attributes like creativity. “It has been found that people believe that those who drink tea have a particular set of personal characteristics such as ‘smart,’ ‘innovative,’ ‘elegant,’ ‘self-confident’ and ‘steady,’ ” the study concluded. “It is possible that when people expose to tea, they might be primed to behave in the way that they think a tea drinker should do.”

If you’re a regular tea drinker, you already know about the life-changing power these brewed leaves can give you. Once you start making your tea breaks a relaxing ritual of your workday, you begin to associate your positive mood with tea. As organizational guru and tea aficionado Marie Kondo put it, “I drink multiple cups of tea a day. So that will be my break. After I’ve accomplished a few things or start to feel tired, I’ll get up and make another cup.”

So next time you’re looking for creative inspiration for your next brainstorming session, take a break to brew yourself a cup of tea.