Coffee….it’s an AMAZING drink. There are not many drinks that elicit the same feelings of comfort and energy as this amazing staple. It has its health benefits, tastes amazing and fuels the majority of North America as we work our way through the week. However, as with anything, the key is balance. In my case, I like espresso…with LOTS of cream and sugar. Which leaves me with 2 options: go black, go light, or save it for a treat. These days I like to get a variety in my morning ritual, to try and balance the types of caffeine my system is processing. Here are a few alternatives that I always have in my arsenal to get me through the week:
Classic Black Tea – Chances are, if you’re looking to get off coffee – this is going to be a hard transition, unless you increase the quantity of tea leaves significantly beyond the label recommendations. However, if you are about that cozy, cream and sugar flavor in the mornings, this may be just the ticket. In our house, we love a cuppa – there is just nothing like a well done cup of tea. Black tea is known to have tannins, just like red wine. Which is why, if you’re feeling especially stressed, this may be a smarter choice than your standard cup of joe. It will help calm you down and send the ‘everything is going to be okay’ message to your brain. Teas that fall into this category would be any of your breakfast teas (English, Irish, French, any of the Grey’s, etc.), or if you’re at Starbucks, the latest addition to the menu – the London Fog. It comes standard with Vanilla sweetener, which is where most of the 230 calories come from, and 2% milk.
Classic Green Tea – I used to be very skeptical of green tea, mostly due to the lack of intense flavor and pale color. You see, I like everything to be full bodied and with strong, deep, bold flavors. So, it took me awhile to get used to green teas. However, over the years, I have learned to appreciate the nuances of these subtleties, if you’ll pardon the pun! These days, I am in love with Gun Powder Green and Genmaicha. Gun Powder Green is intense. I really have to be careful not to overdo it or I will get the jitters – which may be perfect if you’re trying to get away from coffee and like light, crisp flavors. Genmaicha, is a green tea with puffed brown rice added to it. It adds an unusual aroma, and a complex nutty flavor. Some are put off by it, but to me it has become a true comfort food. It has the amino acid theanine, helps with hypertension and is full of antioxidants. Sounds like a win-win to me!
Pu’erh – If I am trying to wean myself off of coffee, I personally prefer this tea as my go to for several reasons. First, the flavor is deep, dark and rich. Mellow as well. It has a nice punch of caffeine and can quite easily pull me out of my morning fog. Pu’erh is also quite good for our bodies. It helps to manage cholesterol, decrease fat absorption, and reduce stress levels. I find that Pu’erh teas blended with cocoa nibs, coconut and chai are especially addictive when craving that cozy fall spice flavor.
Yerba Mate – Yerba Mate is a green tea that comes from the holly plant in the Amazon. There is a reason it fuels Brazil. It’s amazing. Later, I will go into the many amazing benefits of mate. However, for now, I can say that the vitamin and antioxidant profile is off the charts. The caffeine in Yerba Mate is like a sister caffeine to coffee, as it works a bit differently. Mate is distributed into your muscles as opposed to your central nervous system, which pretty much eliminates the post-caffeine lull, and at the same time, I personally find that it makes me want to get moving – perfect for those early morning workouts!
Oolong – What’s neat about Oolong tea is that it walks the fine line between black and green teas. As a result, it has the best qualities of both, and caffeine too! While it has the fat fighting qualities that green teas have, one thing unique to Oolong is the help it provides your bone and teeth structure. Not only is the tea itself full of vital minerals, it promotes the body to absorb more of the minerals we consume in our diet. It helps with insulin management, so it’s also great for diabetics. Full of antioxidants, polyphenols, helps repair tired skin…and it’s yummy too!
It should be noted that, all caffeine is a diuretic. It’s so easy to fool ourselves into avoiding water, thinking that the tea or coffee counts as part of our water intake. It does not. We all need 1/2 – a gallon a day, or more depending on a variety of factors. A simple rule I like, is to have a glass of water for every glass of caffeine, in addition to my normal water intake. However, please be advised, I am NOT a doctor, please do your research. The information above is what I personally have come across in my personal research and it works for me and the way my body works. Know your body – know yourself – and listen to what it tells you.
As with anything, variety is the spice of life, and perhaps you may want to give some of these teas a try to round out your morning routine. I still have my espresso on the weekends, but with all these choices – I am like a kid in a candy store!
Have questions? Drop me a line and I will see what I can dig up for you! I hope you have a big happy day!
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