If you're scientifically minded and interested in increasing either your personal creativity or that of your team, there's no shortage of research-validated advice out there, from kicking off a brainstorming session with embarrassing stories to pretending you're someone else or going for a run when confronted with a problem that demands creativity. (Really, studies suggest all these tactics work.)
But while there are plenty of creativity-boosting ideas out there, few are as easy -- or as pleasant -- as the one a group of Chinese researchers recently uncovered: just brew yourself up a nice cup of tea.
A cup of creativity.
To investigate the effects of a nice cup of tea on creativity, the research team recruited 50 students to come into the lab and engage in tasks that demanded creativity, such as building with blocks or coming up with names for a hypothetical ramen shop. Half of these volunteers were first served a cup of tea. The other unlucky half got just a cup of warm water to drink.
So what happened when independent experts rated the efforts of the two groups? No matter the task, those who had enjoyed a relaxing cup of tea were judged to have come up with more creative solutions.
As the British Psychological Science Research Digest blog points out, this isn't the first study to link tea drinking with improved mental performance, but it is the first to suggest that a cup of Earl Grey or chamomile might enhance creativity specifically.
It remains unclear exactly how tea might affect our ability to be innovative. "It's possible the effect is simply due to relaxation," speculates BPS, but given that boiling some water and sticking in a tea bag is dead simple and also pretty tasty, this is one tactic you can safely try even without an understanding of the mechanism behind its creativity-boosting effects.
Another brew that boosts creativity.
Not a tea fan? If the clock approaches 5 p.m. and you don't have a long drive home in front of you, you could also consider having a beer or two instead. Unlike tea, I can't guarantee a couple of cold ones will never have any negative side effects (lapsang souchong has never caused a hangover or car crash that I know of), but science has also shown that a couple of beers isn't bad for creativity either.