I decided awhile back that starting Sept 8 I would try to break my coffee habit. Don't get me wrong, I love coffee. But there's is a big difference between enjoying coffee and needing coffee, and for the past few years I have definitely been in the needy camp.
I've been a coffee drinker since I was 15 yrs old, and have been addicted to caffeine most of my life since then. This doesn't bother me from a health perspective, the vast majority of the data I've seen suggests coffee is a healthful drink for many reasons.
But being addicted to coffee isn't fun, because it means that any lapse in caffeine intake results in a strong, debilitating headache and generally fuzzy head that inevitably impacts any work I attempt (and not in a good way).
For the past 2 years I've been simultaneously working to finish my PhD and become a respected writer in the food and health space. This involved daily lab work as well as building and maintaining a website with 4 original, high-quality articles per week. As you can imagine, this was a staggering workload and I could not afford to take the mental hit that would be inevitable if I were to wean myself off coffee.
But since I graduated I've had the time and flexibility to make the shift. My intention was not to ditch caffeine completely, but just take the dosage down a few notches so that if I'm on vacation I don't need to inject myself with espresso before I can crawl out of bed.
I reasoned that if I could get myself onto tea as my morning beverage, I would still be able to enjoy coffee without being a slave to it. Also, as a personal challenge I wanted to see if I could make the transition without resorting to Advil.
But this isn't easy.
Tea is not a direct substitute for coffee, and in the past when I've tried to get by on tea alone (even several cups) it only delayed the inevitable headache by a few hours at best. However, through experimentation at Samovar Tea Lounge I realized that a strong Japanese green tea called sencha actually does have enough caffeine to get me through a day. And it can stave off a headache for about 20 hours.
Though at first I could not get by for 2 straight days on sencha, I began by alternating between coffee and sencha each day for the first week and a half. This reduced my caffeine intake by enough that toward the end of the second week I could get by for two full days on just sencha, or one day with a pot or two of high-quality oolong or other tea. Another week and almost any well-caffeinated tea would suffice, so long as I drank enough.
At this point it's been nearly a month and, while I still need some form of caffeine by 3p each day (that's when the headache starts now, it used to be 10:30am) I can get by on tea alone for days at a time.
My guess is I could probably go a full week on just tea, but the delicious, roasty allure of San Francisco's Blue Bottle Coffee has prevented me from attempting it.
I adore my beloved coffee.