Confessions of a former coffee addict (or how I improved my mental health now that I drink tea!)

Coffee used to be part of my morning ritual. For more than 20 years, I would wake each day, drag myself to the coffee maker and put it on to brew. Before rushing out the door, I'd mix it with a big splash of cream and a couple of spoonfuls of sugar and off I'd go to face the day. Sure, coffee gave me enough of a jolt that I could launch myself off to my job as a teacher, but the crash and jitters inevitably followed a few hours later. Soon after, I would find myself becoming impatient and cranky with my students and colleagues, and anyone else who had the misfortune to be around me. Not to mention, I'd feel lousy and tired for the rest of the day.

There had to be a better way.

coffee vs tea

From a young age, I had been an occasional tea drinker, mostly when I was sick or wanted to relax. When I think back to the times when I drank tea, I immediately feel the tension that I'm carrying melt away. Tea time for me conjures images of my mother bringing me a hot cup in bed when I stayed home from school with the flu, or drinking a cold glass on a steamy summer afternoon on my front porch. In my memory, tea is comfort, tea is relief, tea is love.

So a few years ago, I made the switch. I decided that the person I wanted to present to my family and the outside world was a calmer, more in control me - not the tense, on-edge version that had been showing up each day. The person I wanted to be was more patient, more understanding and less stressed than the person whom I had become.

I decided that the transformation into my better self would need to start from the moment I got out of bed. So, one day, instead of turning on the coffee pot, I brewed myself a cup of tea. I poured it into a delicate ceramic mug, sat down on the sofa in my sunroom, and watched the sun rise as I sipped my tea. Not gulped, by simply sipped. Rather than the bittersweet thickness of coffee going down my throat, the tea felt gentle and smooth. My cup of tea, and the serenity it gave, helped me calmly transition into my day. It didn't take long for me to notice a change in my temperament, and soon, others noticed, as well.

From then on, I decided to start each morning with tea, most often black. Sure it has caffeine - I still need it to get focused on my day ahead. But the kick that black tea gives me is much more mellow that that of coffee. I know, I know - science says that caffeine is caffeine no matter how you take it. But to me, it's the difference between the ocean waves caressing your body or slamming down on your head! Later in the day, I'll move on to a few cups of green tea and maybe an herbal blend at night.

For me, switching from coffee to tea has been one of the easiest and most effective ways of improving my sense of well-being. So for a few days, trade in your mug of coffee for a cup of tea and see if you feel the difference.

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