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Coffee vs. Tea

Understanding one’s diet, and the body’s reaction to it, is key to better health.  In the past I’ve advised keeping a food journal to begin the learning process of what your body likes and dislikes. But some of the things we need to have a healthy body don’t always coincide with our pallets.  For me, it’s coffee.  Yes, that glorious nectar that everyone else raves about… I really don’t like.  It’s bitter, it’s oily and it’s a processed food.  I’m determined to eliminate processed foods as much as possible.  I, however, LOVE tea (yes, insert Brit joke here) and though black teas are processed, they are much more pleasing to my tastes than coffee.

Now, I want to state for the record that it isn’t coffee itself that I feel the need to eliminate just because it’s coffee.  I don’t jump on every food trend bandwagon that goes passing by.  I know that caffeine has some great benefits when taken in moderation, such as promoting better blood circulation which is a must for someone like me who has a history of migraines.

Note the word “history”.  I’m not saying I’ve cured them.  I’m saying I’ve eliminated all the things that trigger them.  Soy, being the inflammatory biggie in my diet, was the last major player in my battle against migraines.  The first and worst was the dreaded feminine hygiene products containing bleach.  Now I hardly have cramps and have been migraine free for MONTHS!  MONTHS I tell you! After years of having them every cycle without fail.  As a matter of fact, this summer will be an entire year without one.  I could almost cry.

So now that I don’t need the caffeine as much to ease migraines but do need it to keep my diet well balanced and my metabolism up, I’m looking to switch away from coffee entirely.  I drink only two cups of weak coffee daily but to equal that in black tea, I need to drink almost five cups.  This would interfere with how much water I drink daily and I don’t want to reduce that.  Water is vital to my diet for various reasons.

Interesting fact: Tea has more caffeine than coffee.  The reason coffee is perceived as being more caffeinated is because it is made so much stronger than tea.

Although I don’t drink much coffee, I do need to find adequate caffeine replacements for it to ensure good health and allow my body to adjust.  I’m starting off with trading my second cup of coffee for two cups of Chai (my favorite black tea blend).

Tea is actually green in its natural state and its varying degrees of process determine its type.  Green tea is unprocessed tea leaves; white tea is when those leaves are picked prematurely and dried, leaving them with a somewhat white appearance similar to sage; yellow tea is when the leaves are allowed to “yellow” in the sun while still on the plant before picking; oolong tea is the leaves withered on the plant till they are dark and curled; black teas are 100% oxidized (allowed to wither completely then rolled and bruised); and lastly there is post-fermented which undergoes a second oxidizing process and the liquid produced from brewing is actually similar to the color of coffee.  Interesting fact: “Black tea” is actually called “red tea” by the Chinese because the liquid produced is red in color. “Black tea” to Asian countries means post-fermented teas.  “Red teas” to most Western societies refers to roobios which is not a tea but actually an herbal infusion.

I’m looking to add a cup of weak green tea to my daily routine instead of the coffee, though I will have to ease into that.  Green teas are highly stimulant and if you have even an erratic heartbeat (which is incredibly common and doesn’t pose a threat except for much later in life or if the person is unhealthy) or any other heart flutter/condition, if can cause palpitations.  So generally, you don’t want to overdo it on the green tea until I know if I’ll react to it.  But it does have quite a lot of health benefits that I’d love to include at least a few cups of it weekly.

The word “tea” is also often misused when in reference to herbal infusions or tisanes.  “Herbal teas” aren’t teas at all unless they contain tea leaves (which some do, such as jasmine tea which is Chinese tea and jasmine flowers).  Infusions are the process of seeping a plant to extract it’s oils/flavor in boiled water.  Because both tea and herbal infusions are made the same way, the term “tea” has been carried over to mean any beverage prepared in this manner.  Coffee is actually a decoction (or it started as one) which is the mashing and boiling of a plant to produce the beverage.

So that’s this month’s diet exchange, tea for coffee.  I’m also hoping it will reduce my honey intake (though it has great benefits, it’s still a sugar intake I’d like to reduce a bit) as well as a reduction on the amount of almond milk I drink (as I add it to my coffee).  Although the almond milk is nice and healthy, it can be binding.  Plus, we need to keep our diets with lots of variation to keep our bodies healthiest and not stagnant.  I like having an option for coffee, tea or any beverage.