Who can forget when juicing skyrocketed from a niche trend to a full-on phenomenon? Models, It girls, and actresses touted the benefits of their regular cleanses and were constantly snapped with their requisite green juice in hand—and thousands of us mere mortals followed suit. The fervor may have died down since the initial craze (along with a healthy dose of criticism on just how healthy these juice cleanses actually are), but the very fact that we easily use “juicing” as a verb and associate it with a certain type of lifestyle proves its impact. So—what’s next? Sure, there’s bone broth and “soup-ing,” but lately, we’ve started noticing another trendy new liquid quickly gaining traction among the cool crowd—and the irony is that it’s really not new at all.
Tea has been sipped upon by both royalty and common folk alike for thousands of years—and the newest iteration puts a beautifying spin on the traditional, often-overlooked beverage. The latest crop of designer teas tout skin-clearing and waist-slimming powers and celebrity fans ranging from Miranda Kerr to the obsessively-followed Kylie Jenner—along with your grandma, who prefers her tea with a dash of milk before bed. So, is beauty tea going to be the next juice? What sets these trendy new beauty teas apart from their conventional counterparts? We caught up with Theresa Krier, founder of couture tea brand Big T NYC—which happens to be a backstage staple at New York Fashion Week—and asked for her insight.
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In the past, tea has often been overlooked and passed over for its flashier, adrenaline-pumping counterpart: coffee. But tea devotees know that a cup of this beverage goes beyond the powers of coffee and boasts antioxidants that do everything from de-bloat to help you fight off a cold—and the trendy new iterations offer amped-up versions of these abilities. “Tea is inherently beautifying because it is hydrating and rich in antioxidants, which are both important foundations for natural beauty,” Krier says. “Beauty teas are specifically designed to amplify these inherent benefits.” Many beauty teas will take a traditional formula—say, a white tea, which is already antioxidant-rich—and then add in even more beautifying ingredients. For example, Krier’s Tell-Tale Glow Tea ($20) features organic white tea, and a special blend of superfruits like goji berries, elderberries, and currants, all of which are loaded with beta-carotene to help promote healthy skin.
For Krier, creating a beauty tea brand arose out of a need—one she started noticing backstage at all the runway shows. “I was working backstage at New York Fashion Week and noticed that the models were thirsty, but wouldn’t touch the available sodas,” she says. “They, understandably, disliked the bloating and unnecessary chemicals.” Inspired by this dilemma, she decided to create an all-natural beverage that would help people stay hydrated and focused in any situation, without the bloating or caffeine crash.
So, what exactly can you expect from a cup of beauty tea? Krier says it can do everything from help you fall asleep more peacefully to improve your skin—and, of course, there is the ever-appealing weight-loss promise. “The best teas to help you lose weight are green and white teas, which are rich in EGCG, a form of antioxidant that helps boost metabolism,” she says. “Pu-erh tea, an aged and fermented dark tea, is another great option thanks to its detoxifying properties.” Doctors and nutritionists may not agree that using tea to aid in weight loss is effective, but that doesn’t stop celebrities from jumping on the tea-wagon (exhibit A: Kylie Jenner’s questionable and likely sponsored Instagram proclaiming her love for Fit Tea’s detox; Sarah Hyland and Vanessa Hudgens have posted similar photos). One thing to keep in mind is that many of the weight loss–focused tea brands may contain ingredients that act as natural laxatives—so, maybe don’t drink 12 cups a day in hopes of expediting the process.
For skincare benefits, Krier recommends white teas and rooibos tisanes because of their high levels of glow-giving antioxidants; Sakara Life’s Detox Tea ($20) contains red rooibos, a DNA-repairing anti-inflammatory to help soothe your skin. One last thing to keep in mind—when choosing tea, opt for organic, Krier says, since conventional versions are notorious for having pesticide residue.
We asked Krier: Is tea going to blow up, juicing style? “Let’s hope!” she says. “I don’t do well with juice cleanses. … I need food. Tea will likely never replace juice, or any type of food, but rather, tea is the perfect addition to your daily routine.” Though brands like Your Tea and the Jenner-approved Fit Tea might offer 28-day “tea-toxes,” they’re not meant to completely replace your meals like juice cleanses are—rather, you’re instructed to sip them two to three times a day along with your regular meals to help promote a healthier gastrointestinal environment. There are other benefits of tea that make it an It-crowd favorite too—namely, the lack of calories, the wide variety, and the subdued yet sustained caffeine boost (or non-caffeine versions, should you prefer to sip before bedtime à la Grams). “Depending on the tea or tisane, you can get benefits that help promote energy, heart health, weight loss, detox, sleep, anti-aging, relaxation, and a myriad of other benefits,” Krier says. Compared to sugary juices and hard-to-make soups and broths, beauty teas seem to be a much more appealing alternative—just steep, sip, and bask in the beautifying benefits. Now, who’s ready for a tea-tox?
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Big T NYC Cold Brew Tea Kit ($12)
Give your cold-brew coffee addiction a break with this yummy, less crash-inducing alternative. Chose one of the three flavors—Tell-Tale Glow, Unexpected Fling, or All Night Long—add water, refrigerate, and sip for a refreshing, hydrating treat.