beans-in-cupI have a confession to make: I strayed. I’m a bit reluctant and embarrassed to admit that, for the past two years, I had swapped out my daily green tea with a steamy shot of mean black espresso. Yes, I gave up the delicate little leaf for the big black bean. I had never before been a coffee drinker, but at age 25, the mental and physical demands of major life changes were weighing me down, and green tea just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. So I started drinking coffee.

With my daily cup, I was not only on high mental alert, but I found myself especially creative and cheerful. Sometimes I even had the sensation (the actual physical, emotional sensation) that I was in love, just from a single dose of good ol’ Joe. I was intrigued and pleased by these surefire effects, but, of course, in the back of my mind I always wondered, is this OK? Is this sustainable? Or am I headed toward a major mental crash and burn?

Although I only indulged in one serving per day (any more and I’d be up all night with my heart pounding and my mind racing), I had the sneaking suspicion that this false stimulant would ultimately backfire and cause me great fatigue. I also suspected it was aging me quickly. I’m not talking about silly, superficial aging like wrinkles or saggy skin; I just didn’t want to wear out my mind and body any more quickly than its natural progression.

So the day after I turned 27, I made a birthday resolution to stop drinking coffee. It was a guilty indulgence that I just didn’t feel right about anymore. I cut out the coffee and replaced it with a single dose of matcha. One-fourth the caffeine; quadruple the peace of mind. It’s barely been two weeks since I quit cold turkey, but there’s no looking back. I don’t miss it, I don’t crave it, and I’m still perfectly able to function in my daily life. Without coffee, I’m also sleeping better (which in turn means I don’t require coffee in the morning anymore anyway), so I’m glad to be out of that coffee-dependence-caused-by-sleeplessness-caused-by-coffee cycle.

Truth be told, I was never a coffee person anyway. As it is, I’m naturally a bit wired, so I certainly don’t need additional stimulation to wear down my system. Compared with coffee, I far prefer green tea’s flavor and history, and the culture surrounding it. Yes, I’m definitely a green tea person, and I feel like I’m back to my normal self again. I have returned to tea.

It’s good to be back.

This article was originally posted to T Ching in March of 2012.