Slowing Down For Coffee And Tea
Caffeine and beverage delicacies
Our ability to tolerate caffeine is partly genetic.
Some people are “fast metabolizers”, meaning they process caffeine effectively and it isn’t as likely to cause health complications.
Others are “slow metabolizers”. In excess, caffeine can increase their risk of disease.
In general, most who drink about 1 to 3 small cups of coffee or about 2 to 4 cups of regular black tea probably won’t experience any significant disruptions.
Whether caffeine is a smart option also depends on lifestyle factors.
Many people find that caffeine worsens carb cravings or hypoglycemia symptoms. If you find yourself jittery and sugar-jonesing an hour or two after a coffee, consider drinking less coffee, or cutting it with decaf.
For some, caffeine may worsen other conditions, such as anxiety. For women, it may worsen unwelcome symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes.
The flavor of black coffee can be intense. If you’re already a fan of black coffee, you might appreciate it for a rich, nuanced taste. There’s a hint of acidity, almost a sourness in some blends.
If you’re used to a coffee-type drink that’s more like liquid chocolate cake, trying black coffee can be kind of a hairy experience at first. If you’re interested in much lower-calorie options, going black could be worth it.
Sensitizing to the subtle complexity of black coffee can take time. It can be a practice in appreciating finer qualities. Ultimately, it’s an example of making a tradeoff for better, rather than deprivation.
Black coffee is just one example. There are many finer-quality, lower-calorie options to find. To experiment, try consuming less in terms of calories, and more in terms of quality and experience.
Make it better
Today, why not treat yourself to a really awesome cup of coffee?
Here are some options.
- Check out your local independent coffee shop. Ask for recommendations.
- Buy slightly better-quality beans than you’re used to, and grind them fresh at home.
- Try a new and more manual brewing method, like a french press or pour-over.
After being plucked from the Camellia sinensis plant, tea is fermented and processed.
The more processing (heating and drying) the tea leaves undergo, the darker they turn.
- Green tea and white tea are the least processed tea
- Black and oolong teas are partially dried, crushed, and fermented.
Regardless of the processing method, black, green, white and oolong teas all contain health-promoting polyphenols.
In fact, tea ranks as high as or higher than many fruits and vegetables in the ORAC score, a score that measures antioxidant potential of plant-based foods.
Thus, tea has many health benefits, plus about half the caffeine of coffee.
Make it better
Start with loose tea. Tea bags usually contain lower quality “dust” tea, a sort of waste product left over from sorting the higher quality loose leaf tea.
(Of course, if you have bags, you can still use them. But loose leaf is better stuff, so consider upgrading!)
Dessert teas are often a nice substitute for something sweet after a meal. Double-check ingredients, as manufacturers often use sugar or artificial flavors, even in “natural” products.
Whatever you choose, drink it better.
There’s a reason that a traditional Japanese tea ceremony is a careful, slow experience: It asks us to pause during our busy day and enjoy the details of the moment.
With your next cup of coffee or tea, try taking a few extra minutes to slow down.
Sniff the coffee or tea. Taste it. Savor it.
Watch the steam rise.
If you’re trying something new, be curious. What’s it like? How does the flavor change from start to finish?
Rather than seeking a quick hit of caffeine, consider using coffee or tea drinking to step briefly out of your busy day and into a moment of calm and focus.
Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves—slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.
—Thích Nhất Hạnh