When I was growing up my mom made coffee every morning, without fail. I’d wake up to her coffee grinder screaming as it pulverized coffee beans. I grew up mostly in her household, just her and I. So every morning I woke up smelling it. I honestly don’t even remember the first time I tried it (must have been THAT long ago), but I do remember thinking it was terrible. But, just like everyone else, I drank it anyway. And every time I made sure it was sugary, creamy and tasted nothing like actual coffee.
Eventually I became some what of a coffee snob. If it was good enough coffee, I’d drink it black. I went through a phase where I would only buy fair trade, organic, locally roasted, whole bean coffee. I’d grind it myself every morning and make the perfect cup-of-Joe with my trusty French press. I’d brew it hot, brew it cold, brew it hot then cool it, add it to vegan ice cream, make homemade lattes… all of the things. I learned to love it. Or so I thought. Thinking on it more now, I learned to love the idea of it and the social interaction that came with it. Of course, the caffeine buzz was nice too.
Sometimes the caffeine buzz was too strong or I’d feel nothing at all. Often times I would feel more tired after drinking coffee than if I had not. Lately, I make coffee, pour myself a cup, and don’t finish it. Not even close to finishing it. I’ve always really enjoyed tea as well, but typically I take coffee in the morning and leave tea for when I’m sick, freezing cold, or practicing scheduled “self-care.” I’ve come to recently ask myself, why? Why is tea the special occasion beverage and coffee is routine? It’s like it’s just what we do as Northern Americans. We wake up and we drink coffee. We can skip breakfast — sure no problem! But coffee! Coffee’s a must.
So I’ve taken a step back, done some thinking, and after becoming inspired by some idols in the functional dietetics field, I’ve decided to make the switch. I’m still a lover of a routine, especially in the morning. A hot beverage waiting to wake you up on a brisk morning is one of those little joys in life. Likewise, a good latte or cappuccino will always have a place in my heart. They’re both darn right delicious (and who doesn’t love foam art?!) Yet, besides the mere fact that I feel like I’m only consuming coffee because it’s just “what ya do,” there are some legitimate reasons as to why I’m making the shift to tea.
1. Lower caffeine intake
Tea naturally has less caffeine than coffee. You might think I’m crazy for deliberately choosing to consume less caffeine, but that’s precisely what I am doing. Caffeine is a diuretic, which makes us urinate more and can cause dehydration. I’m already prone to being dehydrated because I rarely feel thirsty and often forget to drink water (I know, I know). Thus, consuming a beverage that has less caffeine will pose less of a risk for dehydration, and quite possibly help with in fact, hydrating me. And we all know that if we’re hydrated, our whole body functions better. Vibrant, clear skin is one specific effect I love from being adequately hydrated. Lastly, for people who get jittery or feel anxious off coffee, tea can be a great alternative. Personally, tea has never made me feel fidgety or like my blood pressure is rising. Coffee on the other had, definitely has (coffee’s caffeine content is highly variable depending on species, grind, brew time, etc.)
Caffeine in Coffee vs. Tea (per 8 oz.)
Black coffee: 95-165 mg Brewed black tea: 25-48 mg
Latte: 63-126 mg Brewed green tea: 25-29 mg
Instant black coffee: 63 mg Bottled store bought tea: 5-40 mg
2. My sensitive GI tract
Since I can remember, I’ve struggled with my gastrointestinal tract. There’s always some kind of woe going on with me. Be it bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea or an unfortunate combination, I’m frequently uncomfortable. And frankly, it’s no fun. On the other hand, I love having something hot and ready to add a little comfort to my mornings. Coffee tends to turn a “good GI tract day” into a not-so-good one. When brewed hot, coffee is very acidic. It contains chlorogenic acid which can irritate the lining of the stomach (especially an empty stomach). Not only does the acidity upset what feels to be my entire GI tract, the caffeine in coffee stimulates the central nervous system which causes an increase in acid production. This leads to things like cramping, gastritis and even ulcer development (aka aggravation of my inherent tummy woes). Tea is less acidic and tends to calm my system while also providing a nice lift in energy.
Side note: Tea does contain tannin which interferes with iron absorption. It’s best to drink tea in between meals and eat vitamin C containing foods with iron rich foods to aid with iron absorption.
3. More catechins, please
Catechins are a specific type of antioxidant commonly found in tea. Green tea has some of the highest concentrations of one of the most potent forms of catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). These powerful antioxidants are known for their prevention of oxidative damage by free radicals, which we become exposed to via our environment (things like pesticides, air pollution, UV light, etc). We all know berries and leafy greens are packed with antioxidants, but green tea, especially matcha (concentrated, powdered green tea) has some of the highest EGCG content of any food. One matcha latte a day keeps the doctor away? Maybe! More research needs to be done, but what we know about antioxidants still stands true: they’re chronic disease fighters. I’ll take an extra serving!
And, that’s it folks — my reasoning for switching. I also tend to crave something sweet with my coffee, where as I don’t always do that with tea. I can just barely sweeten a matcha latte and have my sweet tooth satisfied with that alone. I prefer to drink my coffee unsweetened but eat a pastry of some kind along with it (which only adds to my GI tract being upset with me). In the end, to each their own. We are all different and unique. What works for me may not be the best fit for you or the next person. But knowledge is power and understanding your own body is the most powerful thing. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!
You can follow me and chat with me on Instagram @theflourishinggut
Natalie, future RDN