I’ve made it my personal mission to help coffee drinkers find teas they like, after being asked for advice so many times about what tea to choose when you want to switch from coffee to tea. I find a lot of coffee drinkers who say they want to stop drinking it for health reasons but they need something to replace it with. Most of them don’t know where to start or feel discouraged about tea because they’ve never tried a good one, except for chamomile (which is not an actual tea btw).
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The majority of tea consumed in the West is poor quality tea in tea bags. Just like wine, there’s the flat and cheap boxed wine, and there are complex, elegant and expensive wines. The same goes for tea. Many exclusive coffee drinkers have only tried low-quality tea and aren’t impressed (I don’t blame them!).
Hopefully, this post will be a guide to help choose better tea for those looking to switch from coffee to tea or just wanting to expand their options. Always choose loose leaf and use a simple tea strainer to brew.
RELATED: Basic Tea Tools to Get Started
‘What do you like about coffee?’ After questioning many coffee drinkers, I got a few answers about why they drink it. Some said because they like the taste, some because they need the caffeine, others mentioned that it’s a staple in their routine and some said they only drink it because they like a hot drink in the morning and it’s their go-to.
Switching from Coffee to Tea
Why do some coffee drinkers want to switch to tea? Some people need to switch for health reasons and others don’t want to quit coffee but they just want to expand their horizons or go for something healthier. Most health reasons are due to the side effects of caffeine in coffee like insomnia, agitation, upset stomach, increased heart rate, to name a few.
To Replace Caffeine
Tea has less caffeine than coffee and it doesn’t cause a crash after the big energy boost that coffee does, instead it provides a steady energy boost and alertness. This is because the caffeine in tea is released more slowly due to its chemical composition. Also, tea has an amino acid called l-theanine that induces relaxation without any sedative effects and paired with caffeine, it helps increase focus and attention.
Matcha is always my top recommendation for people wanting to switch from coffee to tea and need caffeine because it has high levels plus many health benefits. Because we ingest the entire leaf instead of drinking just an infusion, a cup of Matcha delivers all the nutrients (10x more antioxidants than regular green tea) and caffeine content of the green tea leaves used to make it.
These are my favorite Matcha: Matchaeologist Misaki for traditional style Matcha and Meiko for lattes, Ippodo is a great one too and Encha sachets are the best to take on-the-go.
Although Yerba Mate is not exactly tea (doesn’t come from the Camellia Sinensis plant), it’s another good alternative to replace coffee and get enough caffeine. You can drink it South American style or you can also brew it as a regular tea. Some options to try are traditional Mate, roasted Mate or a flavored blend.
Pu-erh and Black tea are also good alternatives to get caffeine. They work well with milk too. Zest Tea claims to have teas with 3x more caffeine than regular black, that’s 150 mg of caffeine per cup and they do this by enhancing it with natural tea extract.
In terms of numbers and for reference, this is the average caffeine content of an 8oz cup of different drinks (based on averages found online):
-> Coffee (regular brewed) has around 100-150 mg of caffeine.
-> Yerba Mate (3 gms) has around 95 mg of caffeine.
-> Matcha (1 tsp) contains close to 70 mg of caffeine.
-> Ripe Pu-erh has between 60-70 mg of caffeine.
-> Black Tea has between 50-90 mg of caffeine.
-> Oolong‘s caffeine levels can vary depending on its oxidation, but it can range from 10 to 75 mg.
-> Raw Pu-erh contains between 30-45 mg of caffeine.
-> Green Tea contains around 30 mg of caffeine.
-> White Tea mostly contains low levels of caffeine between 10-25 mg but some have up to 60 mg.
-> Herbal Tea has 0 caffeine.
To Drink During Your Break
For some, coffee is a staple in their routine and they drink it during their break at work, meeting friends or in their alone time to relax.
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If coffee is your go-to and you want something healthier, here are my recommendations for different times of the day:
-> Morning: If you put milk in your coffee, you might want to try a tea latte or a Matcha latte. Some of my favorite options for lattes are Hojicha latte (low caffeine), Matcha latte, some flavored black tea latte (I love a chocolate black tea latte) and Chai latte.
If you prefer to have a straight drink, then you might want something with more caffeine like a strong and bold Assam, a traditional style hot Matcha or a Ripe Pu-erh. If you can’t have caffeine then you can go for a Rooibos or even a dark roast Hojicha (very little caffeine).
-> Evening or Night Time: I tend to stay away from heavily caffeinated teas after 5 pm and I often go for herbal teas. Some herbal teas can even promote relaxation and help get a good night’s sleep. How does Chamomile tea while reading a book sound, right before bed? Other great herbal teas for night time are Lemon Balm, Lavender, Peppermint or a nice sleepy tea blend.
RELATED: Make Your Own Night-Time Herbal Tea Blend
If You Love The Taste of Coffee
Compared to tea, coffee has a stronger roasted flavor with a full body. Some people love more complex flavor notes and like to discover different coffee from different regions.
For those who like complex flavors and have a more developed palate (which is totally trainable!), I recommend exploring different types of raw Pu-erh and Oolong. Good quality ones can be steeped multiple times getting different flavors and notes from every steep.
Oolong is the tea type with the most varieties within it because the levels of oxidation during processing may vary from 10-80%. It is a great tea type to explore and fall in love with. Some people get samplers to discover a range, which can be a good starting point.
If you love how coffee tastes, then you might want to try some teas that have similar flavor characteristics like earthy, woody and roasted notes. Another aspect to consider is body. Many coffee drinkers prefer full-bodied teas. I recommend you to try the following:
You will never find a tea that tastes exactly like coffee, but that being said, when you switch from coffee to tea you might find a tea or several ones that you love. Try different, good quality teas and you might be surprised. You might even fall head over heels in love with tea… that’s my hope!
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