What Happened When I Only Drank Tea for a Month

Pouring water into tea

I eliminated all beverages except for tea and water for one month as part of a New Years Resolution; Here are the eight things I noticed

In an effort to continually improve how I feel, I used the beginning of the year to set several resolutions. They weren’t really resolutions, because these were things I had already been working on, but hadn’t fully committed to. So in some sense these were thirty day goals for the month of January to try and do better. One of those goals was to only drink tea as my source of caffeine for the month. A secondary goal, was to not drink alcohol for the month of January. Since I don’t really drink much outside of water, caffeinated beverages, and alcoholic beverages, this effectively meant I was setting forward a path that had me only drinking tea and water for the month of January. For some, this will also answer the question of what happens if you drink tea every day. Let’s take a closer look at the outcomes I noticed.

1. I didn’t lose any weight

Weight loss was not a goal of min in this mini-challenge, or at least not a goal stemming from only drinking tea. I placed this item first and foremost on the list to highlight that tea is not a magic bullet for weight loss. There is a lot of information out there on the internet, and many people use the promise of weight loss to sell and market tea or other products. Green tea has often been touted for it’s ability to assist in weight loss, but studies have shown the desired effect to be statistically insignificant. There are three primary reasons I believe I did not lose weight,

  • I had already reduced my alcohol intake to fewer than two beverages per week prior to the month of January.
  • The other caffeinated beverages I usually would consume were not a significant source of calories (Black coffee, Diet Dr. Pepper, Sugar Free Rockstar).
  • I did a poor job of sticking to a healthy diet in the month of January.

If you are someone that regularly drinks caloric beverages every day, including juice, coffee (with sugar/milk), or alcohol, you might find that switching those beverages to loose leaf tea results in you losing weight over the period of a month. Look at it this way, if you are purchasing a Venti Carmel Macchiato from Starbucks seven days a week, you are consuming roughly 300 calories per day from that coffee. Switching that daily beverage out with a 0 calorie options such as tea or water would mean consuming 3600 calories (the rough equivalent of 1 pound worth of calories) fewer every 12 days. Your actual results may vary, and you would still need to be consuming calories at a daily deficit to see the effect of weight loss, but I’m aiming to illustrate a point, and I believe the above example does that effectively.

2. I felt less anxious

Caffeine is a drug. It is accepted socially at a global level, but we can’t get away from the fact that it is a physical and mental stimulant that can drastically effect mood and energy levels. I love drinking nitro cold brews or sugar free energy drinks for both the flavor and energy that it gives me for a few hours. Unfortunately, a twinge of anxiety is often an unwelcome companion to that un-throttled energy. Through trial and error, I’ve found that coffee, and especially those pesky cold brews with their high caffeine content, were the worst offenders. Even an 8oz Nitro cold brew could put me on edge for a few hours, sometimes uncomfortably so.

Through the process of leaving out all other caffeine sources, I not only eliminated any acute anxiety following the beverages, but I also found myself at a more consistent peace throughout the days and weeks. It would appear that eliminating the causes of acute anxiety also took away a level of underlying anxiety that I wasn’t fully aware of. There are of course high caffeine teas out there that can easily cause the same or worse jittery feelings. I’ve had at least one extremely uncomfortable experience with a bagged black tea. If you want to eliminate anxiety, a good rule of thumb is to stick to loose leaf varieties of white, green, and oolong tea, and watch your steep times. Nothing can give you more information than your own body though, so evaluate your mood closely after consuming any caffeine and make adjustments as necessary.

3. I slept better at night

I slept very well in the month of January. We are talking deeper sleep with more dreaming, feeling more rested in the mornings. My go-to caffeination routine is a few pots of pu’er in the morning, steeped off the same leaves, and if needed, a smaller caffeinated beverage in the afternoon to boost me through the evening. My afternoon caffeine was typically a can of Diet Dr. Pepper, as it only has 39mg of caffeine per can. Through eliminating all other caffeine beverages, Dr. Pepper was no longer an option. I turned instead to herbal tea, or small 1 to 2 gram servings of matcha in the afternoon. The small servings of matcha contained just enough caffeine and other compounds such as L-theanine to provide a calming, lasting energy till bed time, without disrupting my sleep patterns. On days I felt like I could do without, the herbal teas would give me a small psychological effect of drinking a caffeine, without actually having to put any more of the stimulant in my body. The net result was that I consumed a lot less caffeine throughout the month, which I’m sure had a compounding effect on the quality of my sleep, and allowed me to continue to eliminate afternoon caffeine on most days.

4. I saved money

Even if my Starbucks or Energy drink ritual was kept to an average of 2 to 3 beverages per week, I was still looking at $10 per week, or roughly $40 per month that I was spending on beverages that were making me anxious and ruining my sleep. At an annualized cost of $480 per year, that’s a lot of savings to be had! In the summer months, my Starbucks caffeine consumption is even worse as we are on the go a lot of the time. Knowing that you can potentially save an excess of $500 a year is probably motivation enough for most people to switch over from Starbucks coffee habit.

5. I drank a lot of tea

This is one of those happy benefits that may seem obvious to most, but I still feel is worth pointing out. Whether you are using your tea time as a meditation practice, or to taste a broader range of teas from more locations, restricting yourself to tea means you’ll get to experience more of those perks. Of course, depending how deep you get into your tea habit, and how expensive your taste is, you can quickly eliminate those financial savings you recently discovered...

6. I got better at thinking ahead and preparing for things

Tea is unfortunately not always convenient. Much of what is available in the United States from cafes and the like are not very high quality, and not always loose leaf. It’s more than just the available tea though, to-go cups don’t provide you a graceful way of removing the tea bag once it’s done steeping. If you are in your car and you’ve gone through the drive through, this can leave you in a pinch with bitter tea, or hot tea splashing about the interior of your car.

Knowing that I was going to need my tea on the road, I would plan ahead to wake up earlier, and have my brewing vessels, tea, and to go container ready ahead of time. While often it was as simple as making sure the kettle was full the night prior, this small activity would propel me to prepare for other aspects of my day ahead of time. Whether it was setting out clothes, gathering work items, or even jotting a quick to-do list, they were born out of my need to prepare for my tea consumption.

Another quick tip I used was to actually prepare and bring two thermoses our tea with me for the day. This usually meant I could avoid hauling around a tea strainer and loose leaf tea with me. It never hurts to keep both in your vehicle or bag though, in case you do get in a pinch. There are also a variety of travel infusers recently available in the last few years that can combine your thermos and strainer into one.

7. I needed less sleep

It’s hard to understand why exactly I needed less sleep, as this entire experiment was done anecdotally, but at least once a week I found myself waking up an ungodly hour, between 1:30am and 4:30am, rested, and unable to return to sleep. Crazier still, even on those very early days, I stayed awake with minimal issue till my normal bedtime. It could be that because my sleep quality was noticeably better, I needed less sleep. It could be that the elimination of alcohol completely was enough to compound some of the rest I was getting. It’s all speculation at this point, but the effects were noticeable and profound enough to give me a reason to stay the path of tea only.

8. I didn’t complete the challenge perfectly

Whomp whomp. Guess what, I’m not perfect! I had one Diet Dr. Pepper sometime around week three when I was running out the door, and I think I shared a couple of glasses of wine with my wife one weekend. I’m sharing this to illustrate two points,

  • I’m human, and I too make mistakes
  • Perfection was not needed to achieve noticeable results

You can make a concerted effort to eliminate or change what you drink on a daily basis, and still have the occasional ‘other beverage’ while experiencing positive results for yourself! While tea was already a my go to beverage for the most part, the positive effects were profound enough that I plan on continuing to stay mostly abstinent from coffee and alcohol. If you give this a try for yourself, don’t forget to let me know in the comments below what positive and negative effects you found for yourself.

And of course,

Happy Sipping!


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