*Photo credit: Myriams-Fotos
Years ago, I used to drink a lot of coffee. A lot.
No. I don’t think you understand.
From the time I woke up, until my last cup at 9PM, I was drinking coffee. It was very unpleasant. By mid day my stomach would implode, my appetite was erratic, my blood sugar levels where all over the place, and I often got headaches mid-late day. Sleep was also often not achieved without a struggle, and was often fleeting.
Fortunately, I managed to put the madness to a halt. But not by myself. I had a little help from a stranger at the Tea Expo in Las Vegas.
As Kita and I were walking down one of the aisles there, a voice yelled out to us “Hey, would you like to try some tea from a 500 year old tree?”
I turned to look over my left shoulder and there was a feisty little bearded fellow with a big toothy smile on his face and three pots of tea in front of him. His offer was intriguing and unique, so we walked over.
He was marketing a tea called pu-erh, which is a fermented green or black tea. He had three pots in front of him, each still half full and being kept warm by small candles.
This particular pu-erh, he told us, was from a very old, semi-cultivated forest in the Yunnan provence of China. And the trees that the tea was harvested from where in excess of 500 years old. That’s pretty cool!
The first pot, he explained was on it’s first steeping. And it was black. Like coffee. (Can you guess where this is going?) The second, was on it’s 10th steeping, and it was dark brown. The third was on it’s 20th steeping, and had a nice golden color.
We tasted each one. The third pot, tasted like a mellow cup of black tea. The second, tasted like strong black tea. But the first was so strong and bold, it rivaled the strength of coffee.
And then my wheels started turning. I bet I could make a coffee substitute out of this. So I bought some of this guy’s pu-erh and brought it home.
The biggest problem a person has when quitting coffee is horrible headaches and fatigue. That’s from the sudden absence of caffeine, resulting in a lack of blood vessel dilation that your body has become accustomed to from the huge amount of caffeine consumption.
So I mixed in some Gingko biloba to help combat this as Gingko supports circulation.
I wanted the pu-erh to have some bitterness to it as well, so I tossed in some roasted dandelion root, which is also great for your liver. A sprinkle of the medicinal mushroom chaga went in for good measure…and then I brewed it.
Now in the past, just as I had mentioned, quitting coffee, or even cutting back would put me down for a few days. Not this time. I made the switch over night from coffee to my tea, which I called Coffee Quitter.
Not a single headache, no fatigue. In fact, my energy levels improved, my sleep was more restful, and I just generally felt better. I am still, to this day, nothing short of amazed.
Keep in mind there is still caffeine in pu-erh: approximately 60-70 mg per cup versus 150-200 mg per cup of coffee. But even with that said, I was drinking far less volume of the tea than I was the coffee, so I had cut my caffeine intake by at least 85% over night.
After that, I didn’t touch a cup of coffee for a few years for fear that I would run off the rails with it again. Eventually I had some while out to breakfast with a friend. One cup. And that was it. Since then, I’ve been able to keep it to one cup a day in the mornings a few times a week.
For my tea choice, I now will drink Bulletproof Breakfast during the day if I’m at the store. It’s a more mild version of Coffee Quitter that also has chocolate and coconut and is another great coffee replacement.
And when I’m at home, I go for cold brewed Moroccan Rose mint.
It really does amaze me how many different ways there are to improve your life with plants, and how many problems can be solved. Arresting my coffee habit to the point where I can actually drink it like a gentleman was quite a surprise.
To the feisty little guy with the tea from the 500 year old trees: If you’re reading this, thank you!