“I think the answer is we all need a little help, and the coffee’s a little help with everything—social, energy, don’t know what to do next, don’t know how to start my day, don’t know how to get through this afternoon, don’t know how to stay alert. We want to do a lot of stuff; we’re not in great shape. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep. We’re a little depressed. Coffee solves all these problems in one delightful little cup,” Jerry Seinfield once told NPR in an interview, and I couldn’t agree more.
Coffee is a huge part of my work and personal life. I won’t lie to you: I drink at least six cups of coffee a day—it’s pretty much my life blood.
So, when my editor asked me to swap out my daily dose of coffee for tea, I was a little hesitant.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a hot cup of tea in the evening or over a meal, but it’s not my idea of morning fuel.
However, never one to turn down a challenge, I happily obliged and immediately swapped out my Nespresso pods for a variety of green, black, and herbal teas.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t have a caffeine-free awakening, I’m back on the bean—but that’s not to say I didn’t learn a little about myself, and my caffeine addiction, along the way.
Day 1: A warm beverage is a warm beverage.
I work from home as a freelance writer and I find my caffeine habit really helps to punctuate the day; grabbing another cup is a great excuse to get up from my desk and take a walk around my kitchen.
In that respect, swapping one warm beverage with another wasn’t so hard. In fact, I have to admit that I was excited to try my new selection of teas.
I even pulled out my Will and Kate commemorative tea cup that’s been in my cupboard since 2011.
I ended up having about four cups of tea throughout the day, a little less than my usual coffee habit, but probably due to the volume of espresso vs tea.
I noticed that I drank a little less water throughout the day as well. In terms of energy levels, I didn’t notice a huge difference.
Day 2: The headaches start setting in.
I woke up after a great night’s sleep.
My partner always tells me I don’t sleep well because I almost always indulge in espresso after lunch and late into the afternoon but I’ve always ignored his well-meaning advice.
Unfortunately, about half way through the morning I started noticing a splitting headache—almost like a hangover that wouldn’t go away with Gatoraid and a greasy breakfast sandwich.
I opted for another cup of matcha green tea, which supposedly has the most caffeine, but my headache persisted for most of the day. I hate to admit it, but caffeine withdrawal is definitely a thing. I ended up going to bed early in hopes that I could sleep off the dull throb in my head.
Day 3: Can I just stay in bed?
Man, this was a lot more difficult than I had initially anticipated—it made me realize I should consider cutting down on the amount of espresso I consume when the whole thing ended.
I worked at Starbucks all throughout college and I think that’s when I began to build my tolerance to the stuff—and as a professional writer, my consumption didn’t wean after graduation.
I think day three was by far the hardest to get through. I felt exhausted, my head was throbbing all day, and I found it genuinely hard to concentrate. I noticed myself craving candy and chocolate too, which I gave into.
The sugar rush helped get me through to the end of the work day and I wound up watching Netflix in bed for the rest of the day.
Day 4: Okay, this isn’t so bad.
I’m no stranger to non-essential dietary restrictions like this one—in fact, I do a 5-day juice cleanse every quarter and I practice intermittent fasting during weekdays. Because of this, I already had a sneaking suspicion that day four would be much easier than the previous few days—and I was right.
I woke up feeling naturally energized, my headache was gone, and I was actually looking forward to the taste of matcha. I still had about five cups of tea (two of which were herbal) though, but it was enough for me to power through the day without my usual afternoon energy slump.
Day 5: Is it over yet?
I actually woke up before my alarm—which never happens! I was energized and ready to get to work, but the smell of my boyfriend’s coffee later in the morning made me swoon.
At this point, I was definitely missing the wonderfully bitter flavor of my black espresso. Throughout the rest of the day, I only consumed two cups of tea and noticed my water consumption was back to normal.
I got through the day without any noteworthy symptoms and even met up with friends after work without feeling like I needed an evening espresso or power nap.
In conclusion, I do think there are benefits to cutting back on coffee consumption… my usual six cups per day is probably not the best approach, but cutting it out completely is just not in my narrative.
Am I happy I challenged myself? Yes, definitely. Am I looking forward to multiple cups of coffee tomorrow morning? Yes, definitely.