A Tea Addict's Journal

Caffeine detox

May 13, 2017 · 9 Comments

Once in a while, I’ll go through what is essentially a caffeine detox, or really, just a period of drinking less tea. What I notice is that consumption of tea over time trends up. This also means that I generally consume more and more tea over time. It’s sort of natural – you fill up the pot, and before you close it and start the process of brewing, you add a little more. This “little more” gets normalized and next time you add a little more again… and it goes up.

I’m fairly disciplined when it comes to personal tea consumption. Unless I’m drinking with people, which is rare these days, I usually just drink one tea a day – which means that I only drink one session of tea a day. Now, I will re-brew this tea many times over, so in effect I’m extracting all the caffeine there is out of them, usually, but it’s still just one tea a day. I think among my readers many are multi-session-per-day type. That’s not me.

Still, drinking a lot of tea has its effects on the body. There’s a balance to everything and it’s probably not a good idea to consume too much of anything, so after a while of drinking a lot of tea, I often will consciously go through a period of lower consumption to re-adjust myself to a lower caffeine intake. I find this is good – good for my palate, and good for my body. Caffeine overdose  is a very uncomfortable thing. While I haven’t gotten there in many years, it’s still something I want to avoid. There are also times where I’m not exactly in OD territory, but I can feel my heart pumping faster and my body reacting to a bit too much caffeine. That’s usually a sign I need to tone it down if it happens too often.

Some people I know quit cold turkey trying to re-adjust to lower caffeine. I find that painful – literally, because you get massive headaches, but also not having any tea makes me really cranky because, let’s face it, it’s an addictive drug. So, instead, I usually opt for aged oolongs – the tea that is clearly the lowest in caffeine among my regular rotation of stuff. I also very consciously measure out the amount of leaves I use and make sure I’m not putting in too much tea leaves.

The end result is usually pretty immediate and obvious – I get a bit sleepy earlier in the day, I don’t get jittery, and also I have a little bit of craving sometimes for more tea, which I have to resist. There’s always that temptation to drink more tea – which must be resisted. Which is another reason why aged oolong is great – a good aged oolong will keep giving if you keep rebrewing grandpa style, without really much in the way of additional caffeine. It’s the perfect tea for this sort of thing.

I usually do this for a couple weeks – at which point tea consumption will stay low for much longer but it’s no longer such an obvious thing to fight. Then, well, the cycle begins anew….

Categories: Teas
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9 responses so far ↓

  • Matt // May 15, 2017 at 10:03 pm | Reply

    It seems like Springtime is a good time to do this because generally we experience a natural increase in energy. In Winter, when the days are shorter and the warming comforts of tea are calling, it seems like it’s harder to do.

    I usually naturally want to reduce intake about now.

    Thanks as always for your thought provoking posts on tea.


  • Von Monstro // May 21, 2017 at 10:47 pm | Reply

    Fortunately I’ve been blessed with not much reaction to caffeine and not much to get addicted to. As such I find myself drinking purely for the drink’s interesting qualities, the skill building, and the bodyfeel, which, I’d think, is still to some extent a consequence of caffeine. With age, however, I have noticed if I drink too much in one go or too fast, the heart palpitations and anxious feeling are real. I go to a point of habitually drinking 15 infusions or so a day, and pretty fast, and I thought, after that week of doing so, “I should really slow down.” Gone are the days of when I would drink tea or any caffeinated drink and be able to pass out right afterwards and never feel it in my body.

    Funny enough, this made it hard to start drinking tea again, since it was a discipline for me, basically, without the presence of an addictive rush. Since that time I haven’t really even been drinking tea daily; I do miss doing it more often, but the quality of my sessions has been made better, I think, and I think when I find more interesting teas I’ll get back to it again.

  • vk // May 24, 2017 at 6:29 am | Reply

    Yeah, caffeine is a big problem! I was drinking the tea 3x a day, then I’ve decreased amount to 50-60 ml teapot. Now I also try not to drink more than 1x a day. I was (in my opinion) so much it tea, so I’ve just crying, when I’ve realised, that it is time to quit. I couldn’t quit at all, but 1x a day is much more better, than 3x! May be, I’ll also can manage to drink this 4 grams of tea not in 1 time, but during the day. Very few people speak about things like that 😉
    By the way, thank you for your bolg, I’m reading it like 7-8 years already.

  • Serg // May 25, 2017 at 12:50 am | Reply

    I’ve been drinking tea for 7 years now and I must say in the beginning I was thinking about tea as a 100% healthy harmless drink. And this kind of view is also supported and even promoted by almost all tea vendors around the world. And naturally my tea intake got bigger and bigger over time. Well, if you think tea is doing only good to your mind and body and also is so tasty and interesting as a hobby then why not to drink it whenever it’s possible? Like water, right? Ok, it turned out it’s not true. I definitely had experienced some health problems over the years related to increased caffein intake. Nowadays I try to be moderate because I still love tea and don’t want to quit completely. And have lots of teaware of course. It just makes me a bit sad sometimes. I seeked peace and harmony but found some kind of addiction. Your mind is not in harmony when you crave for something.

  • Balthazar // May 25, 2017 at 2:02 am | Reply

    I can relate to this, although my daily consumption of caffeine is quite a bit higher than yours.

    Some years ago (7-8) I would drink tons of coffee (4-5 mugs, if not more) in the daytime and tea (typically an oolong) in the evenings. I gradually decreased the daily intake (particularly of coffee) until I ended up drinking about 3 mugs of coffee and some tea every day. (This decrease was not a concious decision, it sort of just happened.)

    I never thought much about caffeine addiction until I had an “episode” when visiting my in-laws in China. For the first time in a decade I went days without any caffeine at all, and the result was a combination of moderate to strong head aches and an incredibly bad mood. All natural reactions to withdrawal, of course. After this experience (which happened 2-3 years ago) I went for a while with no coffee at all, but going through 2-3 different teas a day (typically sencha in the morning, a black tea in the daytime and an oolong after dinner). On my visits to China, when I typically drink little to no tea or coffee, I could still feel the effects of withdrawal, but much less so than before (both in strength and duration).

    These days, I’m back to drinking one cup (not mug) of coffee per day (right after lunch at work). Most days I still drink sencha in the morning, a black tea in the daytime, and occasionally (typically if I drop my morning sencha) an oolong after dinner. Which is to say I’ve upped my intake a bit again. I now plan ahead for each trip to China, cutting the one cup of coffee and the amount of tea (typically only the morning sencha and the daytime black tea), and the withdrawal symptoms I experience in China are quite mild and short.

    Optimally, I’d like to switch to drinking only one or two teas per day, but I’ve found it difficult to stick to this regime for too long.

    One thing to note regarding drinking only one (or two) teas per day:

    Yes, it is a little sad not to be able to give all pots the attention they deserve, to not taste several different varietals of tea each day, and (this is especially true for us “cold, dry climaters” without a humidor) to see our earlier,e excessive purchases of puer go sour.

    But there’s also a few benefits. The first one is that drinking less tea each day will allow you to buy quality stuff. This is obviously a huge plus. The other is that sticking to one (or two) teas per day will (at least I find this to be true for myself) allow you to appreciate and focus on that tea much more, instead of your having your mind wandering onto the three next sessions you have planned for the day.

    • vk // May 25, 2017 at 3:14 am | Reply

      Yes, headaches, teeth problems, some kind of energy stuck, floating presure and so on. After decreasing amount of tea from 3x daily to 1x or not at all, I’ve had strong headaches for 1 week, moderate to 2-3 weeks and could feel it like ~2 months in general. Now, after half a year, it is OK.
      This was not I’ve been expected from tea with all its health benefits 🙂

  • Aaron Moore // May 25, 2017 at 8:26 am | Reply

    About seven years ago, I made a decision to quit coffee, because I noticed in my pool game that I was becoming very anxious during competitive play. So i switch to tea, When I started drinking tea I knew nothing of it. I took my about 5 years to figure out truly what I was doing and what the leave demanded.
    During this time I discovered some things about this wonderful plant, it stains teeth, the caffeine in tea is time released, and at some degree is 10X as powerful as coffee. I always need food around while I have tea, for a pit forms in my stomach, and its time to flush out the tea.
    I have switched to more herbal infusions for the night time and only brew tea during the tea. I find it takes about 6-8 hours while sleeping to flush out the tea, usually woken up with an urge to use the restroom. In the last two years I notice that Im actually more tired, because I feel that tea is time release, I feel that I have not gotten a goods nights rest, which is extremely important for overall health. But tea is very revitalizing which for me, is the most addictive quality. But I have been feeling better since I only dink tea during the day, and herbs at night. I cannot mix tea and coffee because it puts me over my threshold for caffeine very quickly. Switching to white has also helped. I find it digest quicker than other teas. Maybe one day I will wake up not wanting the “pop” that tea and coffee give. But for now I must go and eat to flush out my morning tea.

  • Eric // May 31, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Reply

    Hello everyone,

    I’ve been meaning to comment on this post for a while now. Compare to you guys, i might be the least experience in true tea but from what i learn and in my experience so far is that any excess in life kills you in other words to much of anything (Drugs/narcotics not included they are bad for health anyway) is bad for your health, even water can be bad for your health by that i mean to much of it. So balance is needed. Anyway i understand your concerne about caffeine in tea but one will not be what it is without the other. From what i’ve learn there is less caffeine in a cup of tea that in a cup of coffee and that depending on the kind of tea you can switch from strong to light throughout the day. You are worry about caffeine and caffeine overdose, tea marathon etc. As an athlete and tea sommelier i learn a lot about excess, to much of this ,to much of that but in some occasion i find myself losing controle and forgetting about balance but then again i remember about the way of tea and realize that it does’nt mean drinking tea all day long, 7 days a week etc. Instead it’s means building a healthy lifestyle with tea as a contributor. The camellia Sinensis is a healthy plant and true tea is a healthy drink if drink with moderation. You won’t hear a wine sommelier tells you to drink wine all day long, 7 days a week !! it will kill you at the end of the day. I can gon on like that the whole day but at the end of the day it all comes to this : True tea is not to blame for all you fear and health issues, no!! It is the lack of balance in you life, once you get that in track you will find out that true tea is just another special enjoyable drink “if drink with moderation”

  • zlc // June 3, 2017 at 7:06 am | Reply

    It is not just the caffeine. Tannin esp. in tea (but also in coffee & wine to a lesser extent) interacts with iron and greatly reduce your iron intake. Just google the exact words: “tea clean iron rust” to see why/how people use tea leaves to get rid of rust, esp. in cast iron pots.

    That means we may have to be careful with the tea ware that we use. It may seem “cool” to use a tetsubin to boil water for tea. But there is danger from getting kidney stones.

    More generally, nature worshipers should remind ourselves that lots of “natural” things in nature are poisonous/harmful to people. Even drinking too much water can be harmful.

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