Working, studying, raising kids, building hobbies, running a business, volunteering … the list of adult responsibilities goes on and on. It’s really no wonder that this overload of activities makes it a struggle to get up in the morning and stay focused throughout the day (the exhaustion always hits around 2 p.m. for me), and that’s why coffee is often considered an earthy, life-saving brew of caffeine and concentration.
This dependency on coffee is completely normal. According to statistics from E-Imports, a company that offers solutions and startup information to people who dream of owning and running a cute corner coffee shop, about 50% of Americans drink coffee. Out of the 50% who sip and savor a strong cup of joe, the average adult drinks 3.2 cups of coffee a day. I mean, who can limit themselves to only one cup a day? Coffee tastes good, and one cup probably only contains enough caffeine to get you through the morning (or, if you’re a coffee warrior, through a couple hours max).
I love coffee. I drink three to four cups a day! But while it’s a literal lifesaver, I encourage you to hold off on swearing your fealty to coffee’s bold, invigorating kingship. Instead, consider another option … an option that’ll give you a delicious kick of caffeine without the added sugar rush or coffee crash.
Consider the sweet, soothing experience of tea!
I encourage you to check out the article from Adagio Teas for more details, but I’ll try to summarize this question (steeped in the richest, most fascinating history) here: Tea is a plant, much like coffee, that is native to Asia—specifically India, China, and Japan. The proper name for the tea plant is Camellia Sinensis, from which tea farmers pluck the leaves and buds, process them through various methods of steaming, drying, and pan-frying, and then ship them worldwide to tea drinkers like you and me … who use the leaves to create an intense, delicious, and caffeine-infused beverage!
Steeped tea (the product of dried tea leaves submerged in hot water) is very versatile. Just like coffee, it comes in a variety of different types, including these popular categories: black tea, green tea, and white tea.
If you’re wondering: Herbals are not considered tea because they do not come from the Camellia Sinensis plant and contain no tea leaves. Some well-known herbals are peppermint leaves, hibiscus and chamomile flowers, and the red rooibos bush from South Africa.
Why Choose Tea over Coffee?
If you’re interested in exploring the world of tea, don’t feel like you have to throw out your coffee-drinking habits and rituals. Coffee and tea can live together in harmony! In fact, many people (myself included) drink coffee in the morning for their initial caffeine intake, then drink tea in the afternoon and evening for the taste and extra boost of energy.
Why, you might wonder, would I want to drink tea if I can just get my caffeine from coffee? Well, coffee gives you an instant kick in the pants (especially on those mornings when you can’t drag yourself out of bed), but the buzz doesn’t last long. Have you ever noticed that you need to drink more coffee … or crash a few hours after the first cup? Tea doesn’t do this. Instead, it provides your body with sustainable energy.
The human body tends to react to the caffeine in tea differently than the caffeine in coffee. Not only does tea have much less caffeine than coffee (hence why you’re technically okay to drink 3-6 cups of tea a day), certain elements in the tea leaf reduce stress and increase energy … all without those pesky side effects! Scientifically, Adagio Teas says, “The high levels of antioxidants found in tea slow the body’s absorption of caffeine – resulting in a gentler increase of the chemical in the system and a longer period of alertness with no crash at the end.” This is great news for people who want to stay awake and keep drinking delicious, delicious caffeinated beverages!
Can Tea Hold a Leaf to Coffee?
Tea comes in many varieties, just like coffee. When you order that morning coffee at your local Starbucks or Caribou Coffee, you may be inclined to order a latte one day and an iced espresso the next (errybody likes to have options)! These same options exist with tea. Don’t believe me? Tea comes in a wide array of different flavors, bodies, and aromas. This experimentation (which can be fun in itself) is even better once you learn that each category of tea has its own distinct picking process, strength, texture, and characteristics.
To understand how these different characteristics work, consider coffee when it’s brewed up and ready to drink. For some people, coffee tastes … well, it tastes like coffee! Others, though, may be able to differentiate between roasts. Light roast can be bright and citrusy with some tart cherry notes, and dark roast can be bold or smoky. You can experience these same characteristics with tea! Take oolong tea, for example. A particular favorite of mine is called Ti Kuan Yin. It’s a light Chinese tea that steeps up sweet and smooth with some definite nutty notes. Then, at the end of a sip, it goes soft and vegetal, like standing next to a yard of dew and freshly cut grass. Depending on how many times you steep the leaves, you can get different flavors on your palate!
If straight teas don’t float your particular boat, there are always flavored and scented blends (teas with added components like dried fruit, extract, or flower blossoms) to try. These blends are lighter in flavor, and they generally have no added sugar, but they may be interesting choices for those who like mochas and caramel Frappuccinos. A customer favorite at a teashop I used to work at was Green Mango, a tea blend that tastes like tea … but smells like a basket of fresh mangoes.
Tea is customizable too, if you find the strength of flavor isn’t quite up to your personal standards. It allows for different choices, combinations, and brew times, and it’s very forgiving and open to additions—if you want to add honey, milk, a sprinkle of lavender or cinnamon, or fresh mint leaves to your tea, do it! Explore your options. There’s an entire world out there just waiting to be plucked and steeped for your enjoyment.