Good Food Blog
Cutting down on caffeinePosted at 12:15PM, 17 July 2008 by Jenni Muir - Food writer
Could you go caffeine free? I've found the easiest way is to cut back slowly rather than go cold turkey, because the cosy ritual of making and drinking hot beverages is as difficult to give up as the tea and coffee, and my work colleagues feel similarly.
We pride ourselves on tea drinking in our office, each taking it in turn to make a cuppa for everyone else, which often involves boiling up twice because the kettle's so small. But while the first couple of the workday are usually builder's brew, by the end of lunch most of our motley collection of mugs contains a veritable spice rack.
We've got all the usual camomile and peppermint combos, plus fruit infusions and, more recently, redbush (rooibos), which some of us like and some really don't. Yesterday there were even fresh slices of ginger milling in the bottom of one mug as Elizabeth decided to wage war on her emerging head cold.
There have been plenty of reports on the rise of the coffee chains and increasing popularity of espresso drinks in the UK over the past 12 years popularity of espresso drinks, but what about all the people (women in particular) who are going the opposite way and cutting out caffeine? Nearly everyone I know is. Yet it doesn't seem to be a simple matter of drinking decaf instead - there's a box of decaf tea sitting in the office kitchen that's been untouched for at least six months.
People now seem more sophisticated in their choice of not-tea drinks. Just this week the Gaucho Argentinian restaurants in London Piccadilly and at the Dome in Greenwich have announced that they will be serving afternoon tea with mate, South America's favourite herbal tea, from August. And Alan Yau's Thai chain Busaba Eathai offers a selection of fresh tisanes, served with coconut cookies. In Korean restaurants, I always order the barley tea.
Fresh lemongrass tea is lovely (though fearsomely expensive when you're buying stalks from the supermarket), as is mint tea (but even with using it in cooking I never seem to get through a bunch before it blackens). Apple tea, made by steeping sliced apple in hot water, sounds intriguing but I'm not sure I wouldn't feel it was a waste of an apple.
Of course none have the enlivening effect of a good espresso, but tisanes can be very refreshing in their own way. And don't they have a fabulous effect on the skin? Our office may not be a strictly representative sample, and no doubt someone medical would say such claims are tosh, but the spot-and-blotch-free visages round here are certainly a good advert for the herb and spice brews.