Buzzing in the Bay

An exploration of healthy caffeine alternatives

Serve hot or cold: black tea

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As winter is quickly approaching in San Francisco and the mornings are getting colder and foggier, it’s getting tougher for me to crawl out of bed and make it to my 9 a.m. classes. My usual  motivation for forcing myself out from under my electric blanket was a hot, fresh cup of joe.


However, looking for caffeine alternatives has left me with fewer options for warm beverages. Aside from Yerba Mate, all the drinks I’ve tried so far have been cold; and that is no incentive to get out of bed.

So this week I opted for a warm drink: black tea.

I know there is caffeine in black tea but the content is much lower than in coffee. In addition, it doesn’t have the same side affects as a cup of coffee. At least for me, I don’t get jitters, an upset stomach or coffee breath; which are the three main reasons why I wanted to cutback on my coffee intake.

On top of the lower caffeine content, black tea also has several health benefits including antioxidants, hydration and reduction of cardiovascular problems.

These benefits are great and well, beneficial to my health, but they are not the main reasons behind my switch. I’ve been trying to find a beverage that has the same kick as a cup of coffee and black tea is almost comparable.

Whereas after only a few sips of coffee I can actually feel the jolt coming on, I have to chug an entire cup of black tea before I begin to feel woken up. I can deal with this since drinking a couple cups of tea wouldn’t make me loose my mind like coffee would.


The only other issue I have drinking black tea is the taste. Don’t get me wrong, it is good and definitely tolerable but it’s not coffee. When I drink coffee, I add a bit of milk and sugar for a sweeter taste but I just can’t do that with tea; I think it ruins the taste but I don’t crave bitter drinks first thing in the morning.

Upon research for this post, I discovered that adding milk can diminish the metabolic benefits. Although there is debate on the topic, just like there is debate on whether drinking coffee is good or bad for the body. There is always some debate on everything we consume, whether it’s healthy or not and why.

I really love tea and the type of energy it gives me, but unfortunately it is not a definitive alternative to coffee. However, I will continue to drink it when I need to study or wake up but don’t want to feel so energetic to the point that I can’t focus.

In regards to an immediate jolt and on a scale of 1-10, I would rate black tea an eight.


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