I love my morning tea. Not caffeine-free tea, but a nice hot cup of real black tea. I’ve never been a coffee person, but I always loved my tea. Like most people addicted to their hot caffeinated morning beverage, I found it impossible to function without a cup of sort of fancy black tea with rose, lavender and corn flowers. The caffeine, but mostly the floral aroma is an important part of the daily ritual and self care I need in the mornings. It warms my soul in a deep way as I start my day. Then during the day, I used to reach out for 2-3 cups of green, white or matcha tea.
Increases Anxiety and Stress
In the recent few years, I’ve noticed that while the ritual of tea is one that centers me, no matter how crazy things get, the caffeine may actually be having an opposite effect on my mental and physical self. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that creates anxiety, and over time can have a compound impact on stress levels.
A study done in 2008 showed that caffeine increases alertness by blocking a brain chemical (adenosine) that makes us feel tired, while at the same time triggering the release of adrenalin that’s known to increase energy. If we continue to drink high amounts of caffeine, over time, this can result in caffeine-induced anxiety.
Caffeine can make you gain weight
And, you might want to close your ears for this. Caffeine can make you gain weight. Caffeine stimulates the production of adrenaline, which is normally perceived by our body as stress (doesn’t matter if it is real or not). This stress response by our nervous system combined with stress hormones (i.e. adrenaline and cortisol) can either lead to a slimming effect or fat storage. During this time, the blood sugar to rise in order to provide more energy. This unused sugar is then stored by your body (via insulin) as glycogen in your muscles, and leftover is stored as body fat.
What to drink instead? Caffeine-free teas
Given the harmful impact of stress and anxiety over our bodies over long term, I’ve recently made a decision to switch to non-caffeinated herbal teas. Some of these herbal teas provide medicinal benefits for mind and body (see my post on getting rid of digestion and bloating). So, what are some non-caffeine options? If you’re just venturing into the world of herbal teas, here are some of my recommendations (note that some of these are not sold as teas but common household herbs and spices):
- Allergies: Nettle tea (excellent for seasonal allergies)
- Digestion & Bloating: Fresh mint, fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, fennel seeds, licorice (see here for blog post), cumin seeds, dandelion root, and coriander seeds.
- Inflammation: Turmeric (fresh root or powder), chrysanthemum, holy basil, and ginger.
- Aging: Roasted buckwheat tea (also known as soba tea). Buckwheat tea is high in the flavonoid quercetin. (According to Dr. Rhonda Patrick a scientist focused on healthspan optimization), Quercetin has many interesting properties including anti-inflammatory and anti-viral but it has recently been identified as a possible senolytic, a compound that can get rid of a senescent cell.
- Sleep: Chamomile, kava kava
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. So, I still find comfort in nursing a hot beverage and I’m slowly working to get off the caffeine train. In fact, these days, anytime I see a plant, root or herb, I wonder if that can be drank as a tea. And, I also love to experiment with mixing different herbs and flowers in my tea. What caffeine free teas are your favorite?