Some people know about my ‘adoration’ for the delectably delicious roasted nectar of the coffee bean… I’ve written about it before – it’s more than the luxuriously rich, nutty, earthy flavour and aroma, admittedly, it’s also about the jolt! There are days, especially on the weekends, when the thought of a perfectly brewed triple americano (canadese, as it’s sometimes called here in Canada) is the reason I spring out of bed. And that first sip, what can I say – it’s, well, nothing short of magical!

So, what happens when a buddy of mine, a health guru of sorts, challenges me to give up my morning cup of black gold, for a tepid cup of pale green tea?

Sometimes, timing is everything. I’d actually been thinking about aborting my daily coffee routine for a little while now. I go through this process at some point once every year. I realize that I can’t go a day without a cup, without getting a terrible headache that Advil has no governance over, and I say to myself, ‘I need to get off this stuff.’ Then set out to break it off, cold turkey! I simply stop, and suffer through 3-4 days of headaches and irritability, before the fever breaks.

But, the break-up never really takes…

I always go running back because I miss so many things about it – the taste, the smell, just going into a coffee shop and hangin’ out. There is just so much to love, you see. Nevertheless, I just broke it off again last week. What had once seemed so shiny and new, has somehow faded and suddenly looks dull in my relationship with coffee. Caffeine can be a cruel, cruel mistress. Most days I’ve been left feeling jittery, and sort of ‘dried out’, for lack of a better word. It’s also been wreaking havoc with my attempt to stay hydrated for my training rides and weekly races… I needed out.

I mentioned this to my buddy Tyler, who drinks green tea with the same fervor that I used to drink my coffee. He comes into the office each morning, and carefully brews a personal-sized Bodum of special, loose-leaf green tea that he brought back from his most recent trip to China.

‘You should really try green tea, man’, he said matter-of-factly. ‘It’s so good for you, and it still has some caffeine, so maybe it will help with the headaches.’

The light bulb went off! Of course! Breaking it off with coffee would be easy if I didn’t need to go through the painful withdrawal. BUT, green tea? That’s not even like switching to regular, proper English tea, which is still dark and flavourful. I couldn’t exactly see myself jumping out of bed in the morning to get at my tepid cup of pale, tasteless green tea! (Yes, properly brewed green tea doesn’t use boiling water.) On the other hand though, some of the more well-known health claims for green tea are that it is an anti-oxidant which helps prevent certain types of cancer and heart disease, and also increases your metabolism and helps burn fat. So, with those reasons combined with the drastically lower levels of caffeine I was looking for, I figured I’d at least give it a go. No more coffee. Green tea here I come!

Tyler took me to Chinatown and we bought some high-grade Chinese loose-leaf green tea, and a diffuser (essentially, a re-usable metal filter that was cheap and I can keep at the office for convenience). It’s been a full week now, and I can say I haven’t had a single cup of coffee, and for the most part, I haven’t had to deal with the requisite headaches or grumpiness. And now that my palate is getting used to that pale green liquid, it actually has all kinds of wonderful flavour. I will admit, I’m enjoying it so far, and plan to stick with it for a bit. I’m also finding it a lot easier to stay hydrated just in general, which is making me feel better in all kinds of ways! So, we’ll see how long this green tea kick lasts, or more accurately, how long I can hold off before going back to the dark side…

In the meantime, here is a quick breakdown of Pros and Cons, as I see them.

Pros to switching to green tea:

  • Reduced caffeine intake, which makes it easier to stay hydrated so I can perform better, riding faster for longer
  • I like the taste of green tea, though admittedly less than coffee. This is still a pro though because I’m tending to stick to just 1 or 2 cups a day, further reducing my caffeine intake
  • It may help increase my metabolism, helping me to shed some of that ‘mid 30s’ old man spare tire I am now battling with. Shedding just a couple pounds around the midriff would hopefully make me a bit faster on the bike
  • Green tea does still have some caffeine (about 1/2 that of brewed coffee), so from a race performance standpoint, including muscle contraction, alertness and mental focus, I’m still going to get that caffeine edge
  • I can still enjoy the ‘coffeehouse’ atmosphere, but just order a green tea instead of a coffee. And, compared to an americano, a green tea is a lot less spendy
  • Anti-oxidants in green tea may help to prevent cancer and heart disease, which may be the best reason of all to switch

Cons for switching to green tea:

  • You can’t deny that green tea is lacking the same kind of appeal as a rich, well-brewed cup of good coffee, never mind a cappuccino, americano or a flat white. So for me, the enjoyment factor is down on green tea, and let’s be honest because taste, and enjoyment are huge factors here
  • And there you have it! I really only have one good reason for not making the switch. Huh… If you can think of any other reasons against, let me know

You can link here to the post Tyler wrote on green tea, which includes info on the history, and even proper brewing techniques.

Green tea is a much healthier choice of caffeine ‘administration’, than say, coffee, so if you’re looking to make a small health/diet change for the better, green tea just might be your ticket.