I’m not a fan of tea… In fact, anyone who knows me is well aware that I have a particular affinity to coffee and caffeine in general. But despite my personal preferences, tea in general does tend to have a reasonable amount of caffeine. In fact, a normal cup of pure green tea (without any additives) usually has almost 30 milligrams of caffeine, despite some sources claiming that green tea is “naturally” caffeine-free.
I learned this lesson the hard way last week, when I decided to enjoy a cup of green tea at about 7 o’clock in the evening and wound up being awake for most of the night. I spoke to my Sensei about it, who studies herbs and Chinese Medicine, only to be told not to consume tea after 5 p.m. for this very reason. I should have asked BEFORE trying it. Nothing like learning the hard way…
I wrote a post last year, outlining the benefits of green tea, called My Tea Is Green With Envy. In fact, I also wrote about the aspects of coffee called Sweet, Blessed Caffeine…, although it doesn’t necessarily cover the benefits of coffee so much as it discusses the appropriate levels of caffeine one can consume. Regardless, I won’t get into the benefits of Green Tea in this post, as you can easily read them in the linked article above.
As I said in the beginning, I’m not a fan of tea. I remember the first time I tried a cup. Although I don’t remember exactly when it was or how long ago, I had decided to try a cup in lieu of my constant stream of coffee. I remember wondering why in the hell I subjected myself to the brew as it reminded me of a cup of hot bath water (And no, I’m not speaking from experience. Before anyone asks…)
But I try and enjoy (and I use that term lightly) a cup of green tea at least once an afternoon. According to an article posted by the Pacific College Of Health And Science, “Green tea polyphenols and polysaccharides are effective in lowering blood sugars. […] The polyphenol group of green tea catechins has been shown to lower blood sugars, as well as the polysaccharides in green tea.”
Some other studies have explained that some blends of black tea can also have the same benefit, although I can’t seem to find my source so I’ll leave it to you to decide. But after my little insomnia “incident” with the green tea, I asked Sensei about some different teas that provided some, if any benefit. Here are some of the options he threw at me:
- Ginger Tea: This is good for helping to stomach pains and nausea. It’s also been shown to help with muscle aches, making it ideal for post-workouts. A true herbal tea, this is a genuine caffeine-free alternative when compared to green or black teas;
- Barley Tea: I honestly had never heard of barley tea until Sensei mentioned it. But it’s also good for helping with stomach issues and can help alleviate problems with your sleep patterns. Some also enjoy drinking it for it’s nutty flavour. Since barley tea is made from, well… barley, it falls under the same category as ginger tea and is said to be completely caffeine-free (I’m seeing a trend and I think Sensei is trying to tell me something!);
- Dandelion Tea: Alright, this one sounds straight up disgusting! Sensei even suggested picking and drying my own dandelions to make this tea. But once I got to researching, dandelion tea has a significant number of benefits, according to an article posted by Healthline.com. These benefits include reducing water weight, helping with stomach issues, increasing liver health and preventing urinary tract infections. Sounds pretty good, although dandelion root can interact with some medications, so chat with your medical practitioner before drinking it in any serious way. Another caffeine-free alternative, some claim it tastes surprisingly similar to coffee;
- Ginseng Tea: I’ve heard for decades that the consumption of Ginseng helps with increased brain function. Healthline.com also has a pretty decent article on this one. But some of the benefits include helping with erectile dysfunction, boosting the immune system and may increase energy levels. The interesting benefit to this one is that it could also help to lower blood sugar levels. Ginseng is actually on par with coffee on the caffeine front, which is likely how it “helps” with energy levels.
Last but not least, is a blend of tea that I actually kind of enjoy. This would be mint tea. Sensei recommends having a cup of mint tea in the evenings as it helps you to relax. Peppermint tea is said to be caffeine free as it is an herbal tea, and has a significant number of benefits that include the ones listed above. Not least of which would be the fact that it also helps to freshen your breath.
Although you can easily obtain any of these teas at your local grocery store, it’s also important to know what you’re putting in your body. Take a close look at the ingredients listed on the package. Some commercially-made teas will include additives, preservatives and ingredients you may not want with your tea.
I stand by my preference of coffee over tea, but there’s no denying that the benefits make it worth having a cup. Whether enjoyed while reading a book, streaming your favourite show or simply because you like it, a cup of herbal tea can be a great idea. Although I admit that I won’t be harvesting my own dandelions from the back yard anytime soon… ☯