By Sheela Prakash
For whatever reason, maybe you’re trying to cut back on caffeine. Perhaps you’re gotten a little too reliant on your coffee habit and want to trim down to have you back to feeling your best. Know that you don’t need to go cold turkey unless you really want to. A moderate amount of caffeine can be a part of a healthy lifestyle. What does moderate mean exactly? For some, that might mean limiting your multiple cups of coffee to one or two. For others, it might mean exploring other caffeinated options — one of the easiest to try is tea. Depending on the variety of tea, a brewed cup can contain anywhere a little more than half to an eighth of the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee, not to mention the many caffeine-free teas that are available, too. If you’re looking for a mild jolt to replaces your coffee, there are a handful of great teas to try. Here are five:
Irish Breakfast = Your Basic Morning Cup at Home
If you’re looking to replace your standard cup of drip coffee you sip each morning, try a brisk black tea that’s sure to help wake you up. There are a lot of great breakfast teas out there, which are all blends of black tea varietals, but my favorite is Irish Breakfast. In comparison to more common English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast is stronger, with a rich color and a robust, malty flavor due to a higher amount of Assam tea leaves, a variety of black tea leaves. Assam is also higher in caffeine than other black tea leaves such as Ceylon, which means so is Irish Breakfast, though still about half the amount you’ll find in your cup of coffee. It can hold up to a splash of milk and some sugar, if that’s your preference, or simply enjoyed bold and black.
Masala Chai = Latte
I am not simply referring to chai lattes you can order at every coffee shop these days that are very often made with a sweetened tea concentrate. Those are fine if that’s your preference but my preference is true masala tea, whether it’s in bags or loose leaf, because the tea flavor is always brisker and the sweetness can be controlled. The Indian black tea is infused with warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger and traditionally served milky. At coffee shops, I’ll usually order black masala tea and sweeten it and add milk myself if the latte is made with concentrate. Or if you just can’t do without a latte’s foam, try making homemade chai lattes.
Pu-erh = Cold Brew
The two major types of pu-erh tea are raw and ripe pu-erh. Both hail from China but raw pu-erh is similar to green tea while ripe pu-erh is unique in that the tea leaves are fermented. Due to the fermentation process, ripe pu-erh is deep and dark in color when brewed and has an earthy, full-bodied taste that’s extra rich and smooth. While it’s usually sipped hot, try ripe pu-erh over ice as a substitute for cold brew. It can even be brewed just like your usual coffee cold brew.
Yerba Mate = Your 3 PM Coffee
Yerba maté is technically not tea, but neither is it coffee. Instead, the South American brew is actually made from the leaves and twigs of an indigenious plant. The flavor is smoky, vegetal, and bitter, so it can be an acquired taste for many, but it’s worth trying as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. It delivers a little over half the amount of caffeine that coffee does, so it’s the strongest brew on this list. It’s also said to help with concentration and focus, which means it may be perfect if you’re suffering from a 3 PM slump at your desk.
Matcha Latte = Your Super Fancy $6 Coffee
If you’re looking to replace your complicated order at the hippest coffee shop in the neighborhood, a matcha latte probably won’t steer you wrong. There’s as much ritual behind maybe a matcha latte, whether on your own or when you order one out, as there is for some fancy $6 siphon-brewed situation with oat milk. Matcha is made from green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder and then whisked into hot water. It’s got more caffeine than most black teas but less than yerba mate and a flavor that’s rich and complex, that’s made frothy and creamy with the addition of steamed milk. Like all green teas it’s rich in L-Theanine, an amino acid that helps promote focus and relaxation.