I’ve always considered myself a coffee person.
I like it black, I like it iced, I like it sweet. It doesn’t really matter how it’s prepared. As long as it’s caffeinated, I like it.
But the last few months of being at home has changed me in a lot of ways. While I couldn’t dine in at some of my favorite local restaurants, I also couldn’t stop by my favorite coffee shops, including Slowpokes, 1203 W. 34th St., which prior to the COVID-19 pandemic I would visit at least three times per week.
Slowpokes is now back open, but I haven’t yet been able to stop by.
Over the last few months I could have done the obvious thing and made my own coffee at home, but I have this strange fear that if I get in the habit of making coffee at home, I’ll become too dependent on it. When I couldn’t even get the few times-a-week coffee fix, I was out of luck as I didn’t have a reliable coffee maker or coffee grounds that I liked.
Before the pandemic, I already had decided I wanted to drink more tea and learn more about it, so I had most of what I needed, like a teapot and an infuser. The latter I bought at the Heights shop Tea Sip, 321 W. 19th St., along with a glass tea tumbler and Mango Tango tea.
So I did the easy thing and turned to making tea for my caffeine boosts.
About a week into the stay-at-home order, I decided to break out my tea ware and ordered two tea sample packs from Tea Sip, “But First Dessert” and “Keepin’ It Old School,” which came with three 1-ounce samples of different teas.
I was worried it would take a little longer to get to me if I ordered online, but I was happily surprised to see the package the next day.
The first sampler pack came with Apple Strudel, which is like drinking a baked apple with hints of hazelnut, chocolate and cinnamon; Banana Foster, which has caramelized banana and vanilla flavors; and Spiced Peaches, which was a blend of peaches, ginger, cinnamon, clove and all spice.
I’ll admit the Apple Strudel wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m in love with the Spiced Peaches.
The second pack came with the classics, including Masala Chai, a black tea with cinnamon, spicy ginger, clove and cardamom; Grey, which has an added orange peel and floral pop to give a twist to the classic Earl Grey Tea; and Bayou City Breakfast, which is a black tea with honey, muscatel and maltiness.
The Grey is my perfect morning tea.
I prepare my teas very simply. I’m not one for lots of additions because I enjoy the flavors the tea itself brings. When I do add something, I add about a tablespoon of honey. My favorite honey is the Blackland Prairie Wildflower Honey from Lone Star Bee Co., which you can find at H-E-B in the Heights, 2300 N. Shepherd Dr., as well as Urban Eats, 3414 Washington Ave., and We Olive & Wine Bar, 249 W. 19th St.
I didn’t think switching to caffeinated tea would make that much of a difference, but it did in small yet significant way.
Usually if I drink a cup of coffee and keep it black, I feel awake — or as I sometimes say, really alive. Not jittery, unless I try to drink a second cup, but it gives me a pretty strong boost. Lattes are more low-key. I could get away with drinking two if I really needed it and didn’t have an empty stomach.
But it’s not an all-day kind of boost. Personally, it doesn’t last and I usually need something else around lunchtime.
However, I’ve noticed my body reacts differently to tea and has changed when I feel I need a caffeine boost.
Occasionally I would drink a cup of tea in the morning to get me past the morning slump (I’m not a morning person) and motivate me for the day. But more often, the time of day where my eyes starting drooping was around 6 p.m. The work day was over, I had nowhere to go, and so my body would decide it needed to sleep.
But I’m not a nap person either, so I would make a cup of tea.
The boost I got from tea was different than coffee. Drinking tea has a much more calming way of upping my energy level that felt more natural.
In general, I also don’t crave caffeine as much, or feel like I need it every day, which was the reason I always limited my coffee intake. The more coffee I drank, the more I felt I needed it. But the more tea I drink, the less I need it.
Now I drink tea for the pleasure of it, not for the caffeine.
All I need to do now is figure out how to do the same thing with coffee.