Herbal Alternatives to Coffee
Are you looking for a quick pick-me-up that’s similar to coffee, but NOT coffee? Maybe coffee gives you the jitters or you just don’t enjoy the bitter taste. Here are 4 herbal alternatives to that morning cup of joe.
Green tea is well known for its many health benefits, including fat loss, improved brain function and protection against heart disease and certain types of cancer. But did you know that it can boost energy while also reducing stress and anxiety?
The average amount of caffeine in an 8-oz cup of green tea is around 35 mg (coffee has around 90 mg). Green tea also has high levels of l-theanine, an amino acid that can reduce anxiety. L-theanine is thought to cross the blood-brain barrier and trigger the release of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain which leads to a relaxed but alert state of mind.
Green tea leaves are harvested from the Camellia sinensis plant and then quickly heated by pan firing or steaming rather than going through the withering and oxidation processes used to make black and oolong teas.
In a 2017 study, researchers discovered that students who drank green tea experienced consistently lower levels of stress than students in the placebo group.
Matcha is produced from shade-grown green tea leaves, which are stone-ground into a fine powder. An 8-ounce cup of matcha tea has around 70 mg of caffeine — almost as much as coffee — but it has a distinct earthy tea taste and loads of nutrients. When you drink matcha you’re actually consuming the entire tea leaf, so you get a concentrated amount of the many healthful and stimulating properties of green tea.
According to research published in the Journal of Chromatography A, matcha tea has three times more epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) — a phytochemical that acts as an antioxidant to fight viruses, cancer and heart disease — as regular green tea.
The shading process also increases the levels of l-theanine in the tea, resulting in an energizing but anxiety-reducing tea that can contribute to a feeling of “calm alertness.” Many coffee shops and kava/kratom bars now offer a matcha latte, which is matcha tea powder (may include sugar), water and — often — steamed milk.
Yerba maté, Ilex paraguariensis, is a popular South American herbal tea that outrivals even green tea in its antioxidant content. The tea is commonly produced and consumed in the countries of Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.Traditionally, yerba mate has been shared from a gourd as a symbol of friendship and bonding and is commonly sipped through a filtered straw.
Yerba mate contains trace amounts of every vitamin and mineral your body requires, as well as seven out of ten essential amino acids. It will also give you an energy boost with its 85 milligrams of caffeine per cup. This is almost double the amount of caffeine found in black tea but less than half that of coffee (100 to more than 200 mg per cup). As a bonus, many yerba mate drinkers say it increases alertness and energy like coffee, but it doesn’t have the same jittery effect.
Yerba mate contains an array of beneficial compounds including the following:
- Caffeoyl derivatives: The main health-boosting antioxidants in yerba mate.
- Xanthines: Stimulating compounds including caffeine and theobromine, which are also found in tea, coffee and chocolate.
- Saponins: Bitter compounds with anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering properties.
- Polyphenols: This is a large group of antioxidants, tied to a reduced risk of many diseases.
Yerba mate can be served hot or cold and flavored with honey, sugar, lemon and/or milk.
If you want to go the traditional route, purchase a hollowed-out drinking gourd and fill it up to three-quarters full with dry leaves (and twigs). Then add hot water (not boiling) and let steep. You can also purchase a metal filtered straw so you can easily sip it without getting leaves in your teeth. The tea may also be prepared with cold water, in which case it is known as tereré.
If you don’t have a gourd, you can conveniently make yerba mate with a French press. Place about 2 tablespoons of yerba mate leaves into the French press and cover with about 16 ounces of hot water. Brew to desired strength and then press the lever all the way down to filter the leaves.
Chai tea is a type of black tea mixed with strong herbs and spices, often including cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, star anise, and sometimes fennel, nutmeg, pepper and coriander.
Chai tea contains less caffeine (47 mg) than coffee, but still enough to improve clarity and mental alertness. And since it’s made from black tea, it contains many healthy antioxidants.
Similar to a matcha latte, you can find chai tea lattes in many coffee and kava bars. This is simply chai tea mixed with steamed milk. Besides its potential health benefits, chai tea has a robust flavor and delicious smell, similar to gingerbread.
Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical evergreen tree indigenous to Thailand and the surrounding countries in Southeast Asia as well as New Guinea. The plant has been used for millennia in traditional medicine and in social and religious contexts.
Kratom belongs to the Rubiaceae family, which includes coffee and gardenia plants. The trees can sometimes reach 80 to 100 feet in height, but most stand somewhere between 13 and 52 feet. Kratom trees require very rich, fertile soil, and they are extremely sensitive to drought and frost.
Kratom has been used for various purposes in Southeast Asia for centuries, including as a household remedy for various ailments, as a recreational drink (primarily among men), and in some Thai villages, it was used as part of religious ceremonies.
Farmers, fishermen and other manual laborers in Southeast Asia would also chew the fresh or dried leaves to combat fatigue and improve work productivity. The leaves could also be smoked or brewed or steeped into tea.
In traditional use, rural populations would ingest kratom leaves to treat common medical problems, such as diarrhea, fever, cough, anxiety and pain and even used it as a wound poultice. It is still popular in Asian village communities during social gatherings.
White vein kratom is typically linked to more stimulating and energizing effects than red or green kratom. It is often relatively pale or yellowish in color and is derived from young leaves.
We offer White Bali, White Borneo, White Maeng Da, White Malay and White Thai.