Sometime during my year studying for the CPA (Certified Public A-word) license, I became dependent on coffee. Coffee has a deep-rooted following for many reasons, and in our get-up-and-get-shit done culture, I’m not the only one who became easily addicted to the kickstart this beverage brings.
During some of my darkest studying moments, I remember drinking several cups of coffee each day, followed by a disturbing amount of #basic Diet Cokes. I am proud to say I’m a Diet Coke survivor (that’s a story for another time), but coffee remains a staple in my morning routine.
It’s not even necessarily the caffeine anymore – it’s the comfort of a warm beverage that says, “Good morning, I’m here for you, we can do this.” I’ve even grown to enjoy a simple, black cup of coffee (no, I’m not a psychopath). But over the past few years (post-CPA trauma), I’ve made a serious effort to cut down on my caffeine dependency.
As a runner, I’ve also noticed how dehydrating my cup o’ Joe addiction can be. Last summer, I guzzled down a large coffee the afternoon before a nighttime 5K race. The results were not promising; I strongly advise against doing that to your body.
If you’re like me and don’t want to sacrifice that warm, comfortable beverage but want less caffeine and more hydration, then I’d like you to meet my new friend, Tea.
Tea is so hot right now, you guys.
I’d like to tell you that I had this grandiose health awakening and that is when I decided to be a tea drinker, but that’s just not true. I started drinking tea when I studied abroad in Dublin and realized that Ireland is incapable of selling a decent coffee maker (no offense, but seriously). The espresso drinks are on point – but ordering an Americano is the closest you will come to the classic Dunkin Donuts experience in the Emerald Isle. I started to swap out my normal coffees for tea. I noticed it would keep me alert for class but didn’t give me jitters or keep me up all night.
I am by no means a tea expert, but I would call myself a newborn enthusiast. Over the past few years I’ve swapped out a lot of *but not all of* my coffee stash in favor of a variety of loose leaf teas. I feel better and less dependent on my daily cup(s) of coffee.
If you’re not a tea drinker now, I encourage you to explore a bit with teas this winter. Here’s the basics of what you need to know.
As a runner and semi-athletic human, hydration is important to me, but sometimes it’s hard (and boring) to make sure I’m getting enough ounces of water in each day. Tea is a nice way to continue to hydrate throughout the day with a spark of flavor – because, let’s face it, I don’t always have time to chop up beautiful fruits for infused water all the time… I barely have enough time to shove a fruit in my face on the way out the door for breakfast.
It’s a good caffeine kick – no jitters included.
With natural stimulants that balance out the caffeine content, tea steadily increases your energy without giving you a “buzz” or the all-too-common jitters. While tea does contain caffeine, it doesn’t contain the extreme highs and lows that generally can come with it. When considering caffeine content of your cup, know that generally speaking: the darker the tea, the more caffeine. If you want a boost in the morning, go for a black tea. If you’re just looking for an afternoon pick-me-up, a green tea could be a good, more balanced option for you.
Fun fact: almost all tea comes from the same leaf, but the way that it is prepared and the time that it is picked provide the wide range of the tea types (black, oolong, green, white) you might be familiar with.
It’s good for you!
I talked with Ashley Whitney, marketing coordinator of Tiesta Tea and knowledgeable tea advocate, who provided me with information about the benefits of drinking tea. She talked about how tea is not only a means to steadily increase your energy, but it is also chock-full of antioxidants and, in certain studies, has even been shown to boost memory.
Loose tea has more benefits than your average tea bag.
When people think of tea, they often think of the traditional Lipton tea bags. Though there is nothing wrong with them, using loose leaf tea is often more beneficial than store-bought tea bags. And as a bonus, loose leaf tea also tends to be more flavorful. Why does loose leaf tea have more benefits? To help answer this, think about food in general: the less processed it is, the more natural benefits you can get from it. Tea is no exception to that rule.
Afraid of buying a tin of loose leaf tea and taking a long time to get through it? Ashley from Tiesta Tea noted that loose leaf tea can also be good for over two years, if it’s stored properly.
Don’t need caffeine or feeling sick? Reach for herbal teas.
Tea is my go-to the moment I start to feel an oncoming sore throat or a stuffy nose. Herbal teas give all the antioxidant and hydrating benefits of tea – and sometimes pack an even bigger health-punch, depending on what else is in the tea. Herbal teas are not made with the traditional tea leaf, so they are usually decaffeinated and are perfect before bed or to help lull you into a much-needed nap.