One month without: why I decided to give up caffeine

In nearly every office across the country, there is a a culture of relying on caffeine to get through the day. No matter if your vice is coffee or tea, chances are that someone will offer to do a round of hot drinks every hour or two. I normally drink two or three cups of tea per day, and maybe even more during those chilly winter months. Tea has always been a vice for me. It warms me up while the air conditioning is blasting, and it always seems the cheer me up. It’s refreshing, and it feels like home.

So why did I decide to give up caffeine forever?

In a standard cup of tea, there is 35mg of caffeine, compared to around 70mg in a cup of coffee. This may not sound like a lot to coffee drinkers, but I noticed that it was sometimes having an effect on me. My heart would start beating faster after each cup, which made my body think that I was anxious. It’s hardly the warm and happy feeling that I used to associate with tea. After a while, I decided that it couldn’t be worth it. But my tea addiction would not let me give up my favourite hot beverage forever.

Then I found decaf tea, the lesser-know cousin of decaf coffee. It’s stocked in every supermarket that I’ve come across. When I first tried this version, I noticed some key differences. There’s a certain tang with tea that comes at the end of a sip that decaf doesn’t have. It also tastes more milky and smoother somehow. Other than that, it’s hard to tell the difference. It’s hot, it’s brown, and it comes from the same shape and size tea bag.

The first week without caffeine at work was brutal, I can’t lie. I used to go and make a brew whenever I was feeling most tired at work, but now a tea wouldn’t make me any more awake. The familiar rhythm of sipping on a hot drink didn’t make it feel too different, but my tiredness was palpable.

My colleagues and friends thought I was making a weird decision.

“How long are you doing that for?”

When I replied forever, people were very confused. Most assumed it was a test for a month to see if I could do it, but I was determined to make a permanent change.

I was dismayed at the end of the first week when it wasn’t getting any easier. I slept a lot that weekend, but I decided to persevere.

Then, at the end of the second week, the tiredness imperceptibly lifted. I was back to normal – a bit sleepy every now and then, but I didn’t feel like I needed a pick-me-up multiple times per day. I had cracked it.

Now I’m a month in to my decaf challenge and I won’t ever go back. I feel healthier, I’m finding it easier to sleep at night, and the heart palpitations after a cup of tea are non-existent. It has been a challenge at times, like when I went home for the weekend and had to go without tea because my parents only had regular tea. At conferences and events, decaf usually isn’t an option. But now that I no longer need tea to feel awake, it isn’t a big deal.

The decaf life is definitely for me!

Do you think you could live without caffeine? Would you ever give it a try? Or are you not a fan of coffee or tea anyway?