The thing I enjoy most about the beginning of a new year is the chance to challenge myself, to change my habits while I’ve still got the momentum before work and travel and other distractions get in the way.
In light of that, I decided to take on a one month challenge, with plans to move forward if my new habit proved satisfactory.
For the last few weeks, I haven’t had a single drop of coffee.
I’ve been addicted to coffee since the middle of college and it was only made worse by my two and a half year stint as a barista. We got one free drink for every shift worked and the pick of leftover espresso shots, so by the time I left, I needed something like three drinks a day to keep the headaches away.
But in 2016, I reached a tipping point.
The year was full of unexpected travel for me, and each time I boarded a plane, I was worried about one thing: would my host have a coffee maker?
Though coffee has proven health benefits, like any addiction, it has its downsides. My relatively low body mass and sensitive stomach caused me to experience side effects like stomach pain due to coffee’s high acidity and a pronounced “jitteriness” after the caffeine first hit my system. This alone should have been enough to consider removing coffee from my routine, but the morning headaches that angrily demanded that first big dose of caffeine were beginning to make me feel like I had lost control over my day.
In my research for an alternative, I discovered that tea could offer that first energy kick I needed without the uncomfortable mid-morning “high” of coffee while reducing my stomach discomfort and addiction to caffeine.
Caffeinated tea contains, on average, about half the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee (caffeine will vary by type, quality, and aging process used). As I’m discovering, it’s really the perfect way to reduce your caffeine intake without tempting migraines. You get the satisfying energy boost you crave without the fallout.
Here’s my routine…
I brew a strong cup of Numi’s Pu-erh Tea, typically the Emperor’s Pu-erh or Ginger Pu-erh. It’s rich, potent flavor and color reminds me of coffee, so it created the placebo effect I needed in the first week to convince myself I would be okay. I really enjoy the almost savory quality of the dark tea leaves, and I find that the Emperor’s Pu-erh pairs well with a bit of lemon juice, while the Ginger variety is delicious with a nourishing spoonful of honey.
I drink a cup of Numi Tea’s refreshing Mate Lemon Tea to stave off that primal urge for a siesta.
I’ve found that I can get through a whole day with just my morning cup of tea totally headache free. The afternoon energy boost is great for long work days, but it’s not necessary. My morning stomach sensitivity has all but disappeared and I don’t experience the jolt I used to feel after the coffee kicked in at all, just a mild awakening to the day before me. It feels like an integrated habit instead of a necessary evil.
Don’t get me wrong—I like the flavor and aroma of coffee. I don’t think I will ever banish it from my life. But replacing coffee with tea has noticeably improved my day-to-day life. And the practice of trying something new has reminded me that I don’t need to be afraid of taking on a challenge.
But the best part it that it’s eliminated the anxiety I used to experience when I traveled. Everyone has access to water and a stove. I can bring my tea bag and get on with my day.