What causes hangovers?
Many of us know what it feels like to wake up regretting that last drink or few. Hangover symptoms range from fatigue and muscle aches to headache and nausea. But how do alcoholic drinks create these symptoms?
According to some sources, the main cause of hangover is the alcohol itself:
Alcohol, aka ethanol
Ethanol is a diuretic – it makes you pee more, losing electrolytes (like salt) and water. This can cause dehydration, a possible culprit for your hangover headache and thirst.
What’s more, ethanol is broken down in the liver to acetaldehyde, a toxic chemical that causes inflammation throughout the body. This can make you feel rough and cause havoc in your gastrointestinal tract.
But there are other substances in alcoholic drinks that can contribute to a hangover, too. These include:
Congeners are compounds created by the fermentation process that flavour and colour some alcoholic drinks. Drinks with higher congener levels have been linked with more severe hangovers.
Sulphites are naturally occurring in grapes which go on to produce wine, and can also added to wines (and other drinks) as a preservative or an enhancer. Some people have an existing sensitivity to sulphites, and in those people, sulphites are associated with the propensity to developing headaches.
Consuming lots of sugary alcoholic drinks can cause blood sugar levels to spike, then crash as the body overcompensates. The resulting ‘sugar hangover’ can add to or intensify your hangover symptoms.
Together (and along with other substances), these compounds cause your body three main problems that account for your hangover:
Why is tea a good hangover cure drink?
Enter: tea! Packed with benefits, it’s well known for being:
- High in antioxidants
The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice these benefits address all three of the problems mentioned above. For this reason, some claim tea is the best drink for a hangover!
Which is the best tea for a hangover?
As you probably know, different teas have different benefits and properties. And people experience hangovers differently, too. One way to choose your personal hangover recovery tea is to consider which tea best matches your own symptoms.
To help, here’s our round-up of some of the best teas for hangover, and the symptoms they’re good for:
Gently soothing camomile tea is a long-used natural remedy for upset nerves and gastrointestinal issues.
We love Pure Camomile: hand-harvested, air-dried organic camomile flowers.
Best tea for stomach ache and ‘hangxiety’.
If you’re feeling sick, try a cup of Dragonfly True Clarity Ginger. It boosts the natural anti-emetic power of ginger with anti-inflammatory turmeric and antioxidant thyme – ticking all the hangover cure boxes.
Best tea for nausea.
Turmeric teams beautifully with aniseed, fennel and cardamom - botanicals championed by Ayurvedic tradition. Together they make our Golden Balance Turmeric tea, an excellent anti-hangover drink.
Best tea for headache and muscle aches.
Peppermint tea has a host of benefits. As well as being a natural digestive aid – great for morning-after stomach ache - peppermint tea is wonderfully reviving. It might help freshen up that sandpaper mouth, too!
Our Pure Peppermint tea is organic, fresh and vibrant.
Best tea for: upset stomach and freshening up!
Green tea is often associated with detoxing, because of its high antioxidant content. Research even suggests green tea could protect the liver against the damage caused by alcohol. And as it contains caffeine, green tea might be just the boost you need to overcome fatigue caused by alcohol-disturbed sleep.
Dragonfly Pure Green Mountain tea is light, smooth and our pick for best morning hangover drink.
Best tea for: fatigue/tiredness.
Should you avoid any particular tea with a hangover?
To our knowledge, there aren’t any teas that should be avoided when you have a hangover.
If you’ve heard you shouldn’t drink tea the morning after the night before, it’s probably due to confusion around caffeine. The thinking goes: caffeine is a mild diuretic so couldn’t it worsen dehydration, thus a hangover?
In a word, no. Indeed, research suggests there’s no need to worry about caffeine consumption and fluid loss. You’d have to drink a lot of cups of tea in very quick succession to have any adverse effects. Besides, dehydration alone is unlikely to be responsible for hangover symptoms.
But it’s worth noting that all ‘true’ (black, green, white, oolong and pu’er) teas contain some caffeine. That’s because caffeine is naturally present in Camellia sinensis - the plant they come from. So, if you prefer to avoid caffeine, you could choose one of the herbal teas listed above.
For a comforting tea closer to a ‘traditional’ cuppa, try rooibos. For example, naturally caffeine-free Rooibos Choco Chai is sweet and decadent – it might just help you kick those hangover sugar cravings, too!
Is tea the best hangover cure?
The honest answer is that the best hangover cure is prevention. That might not help you right now, but it’s worth remembering for your next night out!
Our favourite tip is to follow every alcoholic drink with a full glass of water. This naturally helps slow (thus reduce) your alcohol consumption and counteract any dehydrating effects.
When it’s too late for prevention? Well, hangovers vary in symptoms and severity for a number of reasons, so the best cure for one hangover might not be the best for another. Nonetheless, a benefit-rich, comforting cuppa and a gentle day will likely help you feel better, so pop the kettle on!
To stock up on the teas recommended in this blog, check out our online shop or make your way (when you’re feeling up to it!) to one of our stockists. For your Welcome Discount, exclusive offers and tea news, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter - just enter your details in the form at the bottom of this page.
Reviewed and updated: November 2022