I stopped drinking coffee two years ago.
My life was very different back then. I was working over eighty hours a week in the corporate world. My typical schedule involved arriving at my cubicle at 9am and not finishing until midnight – Monday to Thursday, Fridays meant finishing a little earlier at 8pm, but then always being dragged in on a Sunday from about midday to the evening. And this always involved eating takeaway dinners at my desk with my headphones on.
To survive, I was drinking a lot of coffee. At first, just in the morning, but then in the afternoon as well. I also begin drinking more and more Coca-Cola – over 5 cans a day. This built up over my twenties.
At the time, I couldn’t understand why I was becoming so unhealthy – I was at the gym at least 3 times a week. I began learning more about diet. I read through every diet and exercise regime I could get many hands on, gravitating towards Crossfit and Paleo type diets. The biggest lesson for me was that fat doesn’t cause damage – simple carbs and sugars do. I was amazed to learn that milk, sugar, fructose in fruits and artificial sweeteners spike your insulin levels, causing whatever energy in your system to be converted directly into fat. I was having milk and sugar based drinks all day long.
I substitued coffee and sodas for green and english breakfast tea bags. Almost immediately, I enjoyed having tea instead of coffee and soda. I found that tea gave you a slow consistent amount of energy release without the crash. I was however, having about 4 english breakfast teas with milk and two sugars a day which amounted to about 8 teaspoons of sugar a day. I felt like I was back to square one. I tried drinking the english breakfast tea bags straight, but couldn’t stand it so I swapped to green tea. The more I learnt about green tea the more it came across as this super powered brew for health and concentration.
I wanted to find other teas like green tea that didn’t require milk and sugar. I tried a number of teas at the local tea shops, but was never really satisfied. My biggest grief was that they kept trying to sell me flavour-infused blends. I would look at the back of the packet and see “flavour” listed as the last ingredient. Why does tea need flavour added to it? I gave up and stuck to green tea bags.
I’m very lucky that I’ve had the chance to travel frequently. In the last 2 years alone I have been to Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Hawaii, and all through the United States. I explored the tea being served at each stop along my travels. The first thing I was struck by was how different tea was overseas compared to back home. I have a friend in America, a software guy who swears by pu-erh tea as his daily tea of choice. On his strong recommendation, I tried it by purchasing it from retailers here in Sydney. Each time I tried it I couldn’t stomach it! I have spent thousands of dollars purchasing different tea trying to find a good cup. It’s so hard to find what you want, when you don’t know what you don’t know.
I thought my friend was crazy. When I finally visited him, he took me to his local tea house to try some of his local pu-erh. I was blown away. It was completely smooth and complex at the same time and didn’t require artificial flavour or milk. The staff refilled my teacup sized teapot over 5 times with each infusion tasting just as fresh as the first. We sat there for over 2 hours, pausing and connecting over tea. I still remember that conversation.
But I was perplexed, I couldn’t understand why for the same price, pu-erh tea back home was undrinkable. The more I travelled, the more I had a similar experience. I was finding teas that were either nowhere to be found back home or would be a much higher grade (quality) overseas. I could walk down a street pretty much anywhere and be served a beautiful cup of tea. But in Sydney, I struggle to find a barista as passionate about their tea as they are their coffee.
I don’t want others who want to learn more about tea to have to go through what I went through. I want to make a change, and I’m not going to wait around hoping someone else is going to do it for us.
I would love for you to join me on this mission to pause and sip tea!