Thursday, February 25, 2010

Goodbye Caffeine. . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Okay, it's early in the AM here and I'm half asleep. Ordinarily the first thing I head for the morning is a cup of tea. . . or coffee if I don't have time for steeping and savoring. But time and nature have caught up with me and. . . I have been told to cut out the caffeine. This is not a lifestyle choice, it's a necessity. Health is involved. And "cutting back" is no longer sufficient.

So I am officially decaffeinated. And friends, it's ugly. I'm up waaaaay before the crack of dawn most mornings to write before I head off to work. I'm having to prop open the eyelids with toothpicks. . . and most mornings even industrial-strength toothpicks aren't enough. After half an hour, I'm sagging toward the keyboard and propping my head up. And I'm wondering if there is some kind of intravenous caffeine I could use. . . a patch perhaps or something sub-lingual. . . maybe a nice nasal spray. Alas, a quick check online reveals nada. In the world of caffeine, we're still in the bean-and-leaf age. Boiling, steeping, and drinking are still the key processes. And then, of course, you ingest.

Of course, I could try chocolate. . . but waking up to a nice Hershey bar does not have the same appeal. Not to mention the calories, the fat, and the fact that in such quantities, my stomach would still rebel. sigh. CocaCola products-- same problems. Caffeine is caffeine. . . whether hot or cold. Off limits.

So, I've gone herbal. It's taking some adjustment. When you have coffee or tea, there are a limited number of decisions to make. Add milk, yes or no. Add sweetening, yes or no. And for you Starbucks fans: Add flavoring, yes or no. (Iced vs hot-frothed is not a decision at five in the morning.) But when you go to the "herbal tea" section, you're in a whole different universe.

You've got your "herby" teas like lemongrass, dandelion root, chicory, rose hip, and mint of various persuasions. Then you've got your "fruity teas," like peach, lemon, apple, pomegranate, and the ever-popular raspberry. Then you've got your flowery teas. . . like hisibcus and rose petals and orange blossoms. Add together in any combination you can imagine and then add your spices: cinnamon, ginger, licorice root, etc. You get the idea. There are a million combinations-- every one of which seems to be for sale at my local Publix Market. It's bewildering.

Then there are the "specialty" teas that are supposed to promote health or continence or weight loss or disease immunity. Rooibos? Yeah, it's a plant from Africa. . . but what IS it? And Olive leaf tea. . . which is supposed to be stuffed with antioxidants. And then there is the wheatgrass tea, which just looks like. . . dried grass. Why am I drinking stuff that looks like it came out of somebody's lawn mower???

Thus far, I've thrown out two boxes of tea and three more are on probation on my pantry shelf. If they can make me change my mind about them, I'll let them stay. But I've found several styles and brands I truly enjoy. (I am not being paid to endorse any of these products. Believe me.)

I love the Good Earth teas. . . the Original and the Sweet&Spicy Red teas have a natural sweetness to them that is very satisfying. Not, however, especially enervating. And maybe too sweet for some drinking occasions, like with food. (I never thought I'd ever write that line in my life! "Maybe too sweet!")

TAZO Wild Sweet Orange is very good. . . I don't even mind the hint of licorice, which I usually hate. Of course they have a number of teas I've yet to try

Celestial Seasoning's Cinnamon Apple Spice, Red Zinger, and Sleepytime teas are tasty.

Bigelow's Mint Medley, Orange& Spice, Pomegranate Pizzazz, and I Love Lemon teas are all good for me.

So, I've been stretching my usual taste boundaries and trying a whole range of new tastes. . . telling myself it's good for me and that I'll be healthier. . . once I wake up. I still miss the leaves. And the beans. Sniff. And the smell. Maybe if I just go sit in my local Starbucks. . .

Any helpful tips on dealing with life after caffeine? Got any herbal tea suggestions? What's your favorite morning brew-- or steep? Should I be changing more than just my beverage? Should I take a cold shower to wake up every morning or do twenty jumping jacks? HELP!


Susan Shay said...

I love Red Zinger Tea as well as Sleepytime! I think TAZO makes a cinnamon tea that's very good when I can find it.
That said, I still have to have my coffee in the a.m. I'm afraid I'm hooked. :)
Susan Shay

Betina Krahn said...

Hey, Susan. . . greetings to a fellow earlybird! Tazo has a cinnamon tea? I'll have to look for it! I adore cinnamon!

I not longer have "the headache" so I'm through that stage, but I have a feeling I still have a way to go. I'm sort of still waiting for that next caffeine bump. And (sob!)it's not coming. Is this what being an addict is like?

Terry Odell said...

I went decaf over 25 years ago when decaf coffee was still instant Sanka (but I won't give up chocolate). I didn't like the idea of being addicted to caffeine once I figured out that the reason I got headaches when I visited my decaf mom was withdrawal.

Now, with all the fancy decaf options, I miss it less. I drink decaf coffee, but also roobios tea (which I can never spell), which is full of anti-oxidants and is good with a squeeze of honey. It was a staple on our trip to South Africa, although I'd been drinking it for years before that.

At book signings, I give out roobios tea bags.

And now I'm off to SleuthFest, and after that, Written in the Stars in Shreveport. Will be a challenge since we're closing on our house right in between and will be on our way to Colorado, where we hope to settle down. But we don't have a house yet.

ArkansasCyndi said...

Wow. I'm going to be no help at all. I love my morning coffee.

However, when I was writing my dissertation, I drank gallons of hot tea (non-caff) and sometimes I wonder if I should go back to hot tea. I think my mind associates hot tea with "work".

Good luck.

Terry Odell said...

Just checked the box: it's rooibos. Told you I can't spell it, and spell check hasn't ever heard of it.

Helen Brenna said...

I empathize, Betina. I loved coffee, but dropped it a few years ago. Switched to green or black tea in the morning, and that little bit of caffeine seems to do the trick for me. Every once in a while I get a decaf - tastes to good.

Can't stand all the herbal, flowery teas, so I'm no help there.

The good thing? I have no more near the headaches I used to get during the time I drank coffee.

Betina Krahn said...

Terry, I'm thinking the key to this is sticking with it. 25 years is probably what it will take me to change my expectations. And there are certain situations that I can't imagine not having coffee in. . . meetings, working at my desk, after a good meal in a restaurant.

Coffee is kind of a neutral taste that goes with so many things. . . sweets, pastries, all kinds of sandwiches and dinner menus. Most of these herbal teas are too sweet or too flowery to be a universal drink for me. Not to mention the fact that they don't serve herbal or anything decaf at Chilis!

Cindy, isn't it amazing how we associate certain foods and drinks with experiences or places in our lives? For me coffee and Toronto will always be a combo. I honeymooned there and the coffee was so good the DH started to drink coffee for the first time in his life! And luscious "Caribou" latte's will always mean Minnesota for me.

Helen, I'm with you on the flowery teas. I guess I'm more of a fruit and herbal person. But I still like decaf black tea. . . though the taste isn't as strong.

Betina Krahn said...

Okay, they do serve decaf coffee at Chilis. . . but I'm not a fan. It's often horrible.

Not that I'm a coffee snob or anything. . . I just know what I like.

Lori said...

I can relate. I had to give up caffeine about 5 years ago, since I pinpointed it as one of the causes of my debilitating migraines. But I like the taste of coffee, so I drink decaf, and let the psychological lift I get from "coffee" pretend to perk me up. Truthfully? I don't function well until 10:00. Which kind of sucks when you get to work at 7, LOL.

I do drink tea, and agree that Bigelow Orange & Spice is great. They used to make a decaf Cinnamon Stick tea that was soooo good, but I don't think they make it anymore :(

Good luck!

Michele Hauf said...

Luck with the decaffeination process, Betina! I've never been a pop or coffee drinker, so I must get mine from chocolate.

Tea freaks me out because it all tastes like water with some really bad, and weak, flavoring in it. (Hmm...maybe like water with grass in it?) Who can drink that stuff? Though I did attempt to go over to the 'tea side' a few years ago, and found I like the Rooibos Chai from Teavana. I like it but don't love it. But at least chai has more flavor and you can add milk, too.

Keri Ford said...

I've cut out a lot, too. It makes my joints ache.

Sometimes I go for the teas and stuff, but I've found I have to be in the mood for them. Best I've found that works for me? A glass of ice water. I think the cold slapping the inside of my mouth is part of the perking process.

(Michele, I used to have the same problem too with them tasting like water. try brewing them through a coffee pot)

Linda Henderson said...

I don't care for a lot of the teas on the market. My sister drinks all kinds and has tried her best to get me drinking them but I just don't care for the taste of the fruity ones. I really like the Plantation Mint tea but it's really hard to find in decaf. It's good to make with regular decaf because it gives the regular a touch of mint. My sister makes this all the time in her tea maker. The International Brands of coffee have some that are decaf and they aren't bad. They still taste like coffee so maybe you wouldn't miss it so much.

lois greiman said...

I'm not a coffee drinker. In fact, I can get a headache just walking past a coffee shop. Isn't that weird! But...if you add enough cream and sugar I'll ingest anything. And here in the deepfreeze I like to have something hot to drink. Usually it's just hot water with lemon and stevia for sweetener though.

Anyone tried stevia?

KylieBrant said...

Betina, I drink waaaay too much caffeine in the form of Diet Coke. I don't care for tea. I need to wean myself off and start drinking water again.

KylieBrant said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Candace said...

Try the Republic of Tea brand, Betina. My favorite for hot tea is the Earl Greyer (that's not a typo; it really has the "er" on the end). It comes in a decaf. For what I consider the perfect iced tea, try Ginger Peach. Yummy.

Betina Krahn said...

Lori, I probably will have to do the "decaf" thing with coffee, myself. . . and trick myself into thinking I'm getting perked up. ::g::

Michele, I grew up hating tea. We lived in a border state where iced tea was a major summer drink, but I thought it tasted like cleaning fluid. ugh. Then I moved to Oklahoma where iced tea was served year around I couldn't escape it. Oddly, I found I really liked it. Especially with fresh lemon or orange. You know, my mother always used to say that as you grow your taste buds grow and change. . . and I'm living proof. YOU WERE RIGHT AGAIN, MOM! (I'm shouting so she can hear me past the pearly gates.)

Keri! Ice water! Okay, the internal equivalent of a cold shower. maybe that would work just as well as tea or coffee. . . but when it's so COLD inside and outside. . . I want something WARM. Come on summer!

Linda, I forgot about the flavored coffees! Yes, the decaf versions taste every bit as good as the regular kind. Okay, another item for the shopping list. Thanks!

Lois, I do the hot water with lemon thing, too! An old boss of mine who had worked for a while in Japan said they "sold" hot water on the trains and that people drank it as much as the tea that was offered. Interesting. And Stevia. . . I'm a convert and I LOVE that stuff. I use Truvia as well as the regular stevia and it's great.

Kylie, diet coke was actually my downfall, too. I had managed to give up the coffee and cut back onthe tea, but diet coke was the perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up. And out at restaurants, what else is there. Oh. Besides water. sigh.

Candace, I forgot all about the Republic of Tea teas, and you're right, they're wonderful. I love the peach and ginger one, too-- the longevity tea, they call it.
I haven't tried the Earl Greyer. . . will put that on my list.

Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I don't feel so alone and deprived anymore. ::grin::

Debra Dixon said...

You know I didn't do coffee until my husband began working at home a couple of years ago, and he's a coffee drinker. And he brings it to me. All fixed and everything.

I couldn't say, "No." He was being sooo nice.

I "do" mostly cold caffeine though. Zero and Diet Coke. One of my special "gifts" is that I can drink gallons of tea or coffee and go right to sleep.

I have a friend who can't have anything caffeinated after a certain time in the evening.

Michele Hauf said...

Keri, that's an idea, to brew it in a coffee maker. But then I'd actually have to learn how to use the coffee maker. :-)

I still remember, oh so many years ago, when I held a PAN meeting at my house for the local romance authors. Betina and Lois were there, along with others. I didn't know how to make coffee, but a few wanted it, so I thought I could fake it. I remember seeing Betina's face after first sip of that horrendous brew. I don't believe she finished that cup. ;-) Sorry, Betina!

Keri Ford said...

Michele--LOL. I bought a little 4cup coffee maker. Like something you'd see in a hotel room. Cheap little sucker and brews tea like a charm.

I've grown up my entire life making coffee for my grandparents, but they have those pre-measured pouches. when I'm given a tin of ground coffee and a spoon I'm so lost.

yodasmith said...

You could try yerba mate--an herbal tea. Some say the the stimulant in it is natural caffeine, some say it is mateine, either way it shouldn't cause any adverse effects that regular caffeine does, but it will make you mentally alert. If you want you can look around at

Personally, I think the "need" to wake yourself up in the morning is WAY overrated. Your body is designed to wake itself up, so you really don't need help from some substance. I don't drink coffee, or any sort of tea in the morning, I just simply begin my day! I even prefer showers at night! Just be sure you get plenty of sleep during the night, and exercise in the morning might help, too!

Betina Krahn said...

Yodasmith, I've heard of that tea, but never tried it. Thank you--I'll look into it!

And I sand corrected. . . it seems there IS a caffeine patch. It's from a company called Spot On Energy, and the patches of that same name are sold in packs of 4 for $2.99. They deliver about 20 mg's of caffeine-- about 1/2 that of a cup of brewed tea. But because they go right through the skin, they do the job of a whole cup of tea! Or so they claim. I may investigate further!

Oh, and Michele. . . I don't remember making a face at your coffee. And I'm soooooo sorry you do! lol!

Thanks, everyone for a fun posting day!

Paula R said...

Hi Betina, you are the second person today that I have come across who is going through caffeine withdrawal. Take care of yourself.

I love Celestial Seasonings, Bigelows is good too. All I drink is tea and some sodas, but I can't list the names off top of my head. Tetley tea is a pretty strong brew, so that might help to wake you up. Girl, you might have to do some jumping jacks too, just to get the blood flowing. You can kill two birds with one stone with that one.

Peace and love,
Paula R.

Betina Krahn said...

Thanks, Paula! I'm thinking that a boost in the exercise department might be just the thing.

And you kow, I LOVE the taste of Tetley Tea for some reason-- it's my favorite for iced tea, even though it's harder to find down here. Florida is apparently Lipton and Luzianne country!

Cindy Gerard said...

I was just checking this post and man, blogger must have eaten my response because I posted early yesterday.
Anyway, what i said was, I quit caffine years ago and have never regretted it - although the headaches were horrible for a while due to withdrawal.
Now I drink international coffee cafe Vienna - no sugar, no caffeine but I mix with skin milk instead of water in the morning. yummy good. And we drink a lot of Sleepy Time at our house

Betina Krahn said...

Yep, I'm definitely going to have to try the International coffee thing again. I hadn't thought of mixing it with milk, Cindy, but you can bet I'll try it tomorrow morning. Thanks for the tip!

Aaaaaand the great advice just keeps rolling in! Thanks, guys!