My New Year’s resolution—in addition to a number of my friend’s—was to wean myself off of coffee, and I’m happy to say that it’s still going strong. I think many can agree that sipping a cup of Joe gives you that happy rush, which often feels so good. It seems like a perfect pick-me-up beverage in the morning when your own gears just don’t want to kick in. In my case, that cup of Joe used to call for me again around 3pm. Especially when I had spent a fair number of hours in front of a computer screen or when my internal mid-day clock was getting quieter and quieter—to that point where it felt like I needed a nap.
You may think, so what's wrong with a cup of Joe? In my experience, coffee tends to be an extremely acidic beverage that may upset my internal ecosystem. It is known that caffeine stresses the adrenals and can cause blood sugar issues. Sure, coffee delivers that needed rush, but on the other hand it leads to a feeling of going up the walls. Also, I noticed my facial complexion gets a gray tone accompanied by rings under my eyes—this may be because caffeine dehydrates the body, which leads to that grayness and overall sluggishness.
A change was on the horizon
It seemed like a good idea to have another hot morning beverage alternative, so I have been drinking tisanes up the wazoo. Currently, the following are sure to be found in my kitchen cabinet: deep red rooibos, and South American herba mate (contains caffeine), which is often celebrated as a coffee substitute and has a slightly bitter taste similar to green tea.
Chef’s Note: Virtually any dried flowers, fruits, spices or herbs steeped in hot water can be called a tisane. Usually there are no tea leaves in tisanes and are traditionally caffeine-free. Tisanes are said to be relaxing or rejuvenating.
Skipping coffee and drinking tea has been improving my overall mental energy, focus, mood and also promoted deeper sleeping, which is important since I don't sleep usually more then six hours. Currently my yogi friends have me hooked on chai tea that I like to prepare as follows.
Home-made Chai Tea
(recipe yields 8 cups)
2 sticks cinnamon, 2” long
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
10 whole cloves
5 cups water
¼ cup Assam or Darjeeling tea, or 3 tea bags of these teas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup honey
4 cups water
1. In a pot, combine cardamom and cloves in the water and bring to boil. Simmer mixture 15 minutes on low heat.
2. Add the tea and steep on the side of the stove for 2-3 minutes. A longer steep time will increase bitterness in the tea. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve.
3. Add honey, vanilla and water (or milk, see tip below) and heat on the stovetop.
Chef’s Tip: Instead of the water, add 3 cups cow’s, almond or rice milk for a chai latte version of the beverage.
…Quick caffeine comparison:
Coffee, average 160 mg
Coca Cola, 21 mg
Rockstar Energy,160 mg
Red Bull, 75 mg
Monster, 151 mg
Herba maté, 85 mg
Black tea (Darjeeling), 42 mg
Green tea, 25 mg