Mini-Challenge #1: One Week of No Coffee

According to the Mayo clinic, there’s anywhere from 95 to 200mg of caffeine in a cup of brewed coffee. “If you’re caffeine habit totals more than 500mg a day, you may want to consider cutting back,” they recommend.

I’ve gotten to the point where I drink sometimes three cups of brew a day. Gulp.

I don’t have the restlessness or anxiety they mention as possible symptoms of caffeine overload, but I do get the third: headaches. My daily monsters started in August and are often treated by drugs containing caffeine. They’ve finally started abating a bit, now that the weather has shifted and I kicked the demon cold, so they’re more of a background player than a waking nightmare. But I’m curious as to if my coffee consumption might be triggering them at all, or the withdrawal hours when I don’t partake. I have a feeling they’re related more to something else… but I can’t imagine the coffee helps anything.

Before the last year, I’ve been an espresso (Americano) drinker more than a lover of brewed coffee. More than even coffee, tea has a far more complex place in my heart. But last January, a blood test (the ALCAT) showed that tea triggered inflammation in my body but not coffee, and I spent three months off of the leaves and relying more heavily on beans while I tested the results out in real time. Coffee’s delicious, of course, and I found a new appreciation for it. Housesitting for my brother later that summer, his conveniently-timed drip pot then had me drinking just that much more.

My gentle rotation of black, green, and white teas had turned into a habit.

So that’s what I’m changing this week, as I kick off a month of exploring four habits for seven days apiece. Because, at its max, a cup of black tea has 70mg of caffeine (and I hot flush my leaves first, which removes much of that). Green tea clocks in at 45mg at most. Even espresso’s harm taps out at 75mg tops, so jumping from that to brewed coffee was more of a dramatic stretch than I’d realized. If the headaches don’t budge, I’ll still be doing something good for my body by reclaiming power over this morning habit.

To start on day one, I flushed some Earl Gray teas, then swirled in some of the almond milk I’d made yesterday. Yesterday, I prepped for my first coffee-less day by cold-infusing herbal tea and a cardamom-laced chai, so now they sit in the fridge and I have something enticing on hand later.

I don’t expect much life-changing shift from this mini-Challenge. But I’m okay with that: there have been plenty of life-changing shifts in this Year, and they now layer and grow, one on top of the other, as I change and add to them. This is about committing a week to undoing a habit I didn’t mean to foster, to reducing my caffeine intake overall, to see what happens to my body and brain when I’ve done so, and to reintroduce myself to the joys of tea that, yes, take a bit of time to put together, but also provides that much more depth to my day.

Plus, I’ve got so much amazing tea in my cabinet, begging for me to play with it.

Cheers to shifting habits, one again.

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