Drink tea instead of coffee

Man, I love coffee. Left to my own devices, I will drink it all day and all night. I’ve often lived by the dialogue from Jim Jarmusch’s short film, Coffee and Cigarettes: “I drink a lot of coffee before I go to sleep. Then I can dream fast.”

Trouble is, you eventually suffer for this sort of behaviour, as I discovered for the umpteenth time this week.

So very tired.

It’s time to slow down and drink tea instead of coffee. Tea can clear the mind, gently blowing away the synaptic cobwebs and allowing for concentration again. When it comes to perking you up, the leaf is far less aggressive than the bean.

At a British Library exhibition last month, I saw a 1940s advert for tea. Among other things, it said:

If you are cold, tea will warm you.
If you are too heated, it will cool you.
If you are depressed, it will cheer you.
If you are excited, it will calm you.

I know this is an advertising poster and can hardly be trusted for unbiased wisdom, but I think there is an element of truth in this. Tea is good for everything. (I’ve since learned that this is a William Gladstone quote and he was as productive a fellow as you can get).

Part of the attraction of tea is the way in which you brew it. You can enjoy the very act of making of it as much as the drinking of it. The art of making a nice cup of tea is one of those simple pleasures that will put you on the right track to leading an easier, more enjoyable life. My tea tips:

– Use loose-leaf tea over teabags wherever possible: they are better for the environment and make much better tea. It also adds to the ritual of the brewing process.

– Always use a teapot: it allows the leaves to circulate better in the water. If you use teabags, one teabag is too much tea for one cup.

– If possible, filter your water before boiling it. Tea is mostly water, so don’t just take it lead-lined from the tap if you can help it.

– Warm the pot with a little hot water before introducing the tea.

– Allow the to steep properly. Give it at least three minutes in the pot before you pour it.

– Most importantly, make time to drink your tea mindfully rather than ‘on the go’. After a proper teabreak, you’ll be refreshed and ready for anything.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at wringham.co.uk

9 Responses to “Drink tea instead of coffee”

  1. I like a good cup of tea. Hard to get here, in the Caribbean, unfortunately. But yes, on a productivity side there are some teas that win, like a good Ooolong. Not so sure about Earl Grey, though…

    That said, much of your advice is totally true for coffee as well:
    – Use “loose” coffee opposed to Nespresso, Senseo and similar bullshit
    – Get a grinder and coffee beans
    – Filter water if you can
    – Warm the cup
    – Try to get one of them shiny and prohibitively expensive espresso machines. Or just be smart and get a Bialetti.
    – Most importantly, make time to drink your coffee mindfully rather than ‘on the go’. After a proper coffeebreak, you’ll be refreshed and ready for anything.

  2. Rob says:

    How interesting, Fabian! I’ve enjoyed coffee made by friends in a Bialetti but never knew the name for it. Maybe I’ll invest in one. At present, I DO use fresh coffee in a French press but tend to grind the beans at the grocery store rather than at home.

    Anecdote: I once bought a manual ‘hand crank’ bean grinder. On one occasion, I became so hypnotised by the effect of the beans sinking ever further down the hole that I got too close and a shard of bean jumped up into my eye! Took ages to get it out. Was worried the caffeine would absorb into the mucus membrane of my eyeball and make me go mental.

    Coffee Forever. Also tea.

  3. the sussex idler says:

    Much as I enjoy a latte (don’t laugh!), tea is surely the right choice. For my sins I work opposite a Cafe Nero (UK chain) and what a sorry place that is. The coffee is shocking. Bitter as hell. But they sell it by the bucket to the corporate early birds!!! Blackberry in one hand and a pint of coffee in the other. Gulp. It reminds me of everything I don’t want to be……….

    I drink ten cups a day & love it. It’s a badge of pride. A silent protest. Total cost to yours truly? Nothing.

    I spend my savings in the boozer later.

  4. the sussex idler says:

    Oh yes. While I think of it, what is that Liptons stuff they serve up in France? It’s a disgrace.

  5. Rob says:

    I’ve always found Nero to be passable coffee, but the entire aesthetic of the paper cup and, as you say, the corporate early bird is exactly what we should aim not to be. I don’t even enjoy sitting in those places.

    Big fuck-up the other day. In need of caffeine, I went into a ‘Cafe Java U’ (a Canadian chain akin to Nero or Costa) and had some very bad, watery coffee even though I specified ‘strong’. Two doors down was a lovely little French-style cafe, but we didn’t realise until too late. Oh woe and undelight!

    And yes, Liptons ice tea is pretty revolting. My, my. In a can at that! Why not just go the whole hog and add some miniature pork sausages?

  6. the sussex idler says:

    Not the iced stuff, Rob. That’s not tea. I meant the rubbish tea bags they serve up. Watery piss.

    Should I introduce a teapot in the office? We ‘bag it’ at present. I’m concerned that HR will pick up on it & single me out for reprogramming. Advice accepted.

  7. Rob says:

    I’ve never seen those Lipton tea bags. I’ll take your word for it and give them a miss.

    Definitely get a teapot for the office. Continue using teabags by all means, but brew them in a pot rather than a mug. When I worked in an office, my teapot was an absolute godsend. It makes better tea, plus it makes for a micro-break while you’re brewing it in the kitchen before taking it back to your desk. Your slightly eccentric behaviour will make for a good kitchen talking point with colleagues too. Let me know how it goes.

  8. Whoah, coffee concumption through the eyes? Reminds me of Tequila Suicide.

    As for Bialettis, it depends on your taste. I’m a sucker for espressos, so that’s the frugal and easily transportable choice. Had a French Press myself for many years and liked it a lot, but they are harder to pack, plus, of course, the coffee is totally different.

    And to chime in on the tea bag rant, these things are overly expensive, too, especially with ugly flavors added. They sell that stuff under names like “Hot Love” with artificial cherry flavor and surely get rich by doing it, while a decent Darjeeling is far cheaper if you know where to buy it. Teekampagne in Germany is doing a great job, if anybody is looking for a good provider.

  9. […] with the ‘Escape dependencies’ piece in New Escapologist Issue Three and the recent blog post suggesting others do the same. Needless to say, this has resulted in my feeling groggy and slow for […]

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