{Rituals}-the caffeine crush

I can’t think of anything more Freudian in my life than the over sized drinking vessel I carry around with me everywhere I go. In my previous life, it was a huge Styrofoam cup filled to the brim with diet soda.  It was practically an extension of my hand, going everywhere I went.  In meetings, it sat front and center on the table.  It was always there beside me at my horseshoe teaching table.  I even had the thought repeatedly, as I’d walk into someone else’s classroom, holding it in two hands and sipping from the straw at the same time, “Wow! It’s creepy that I pretty much never gave up the bottle.”  It was not only a bad habit but a true addiction.  I would literally hide bottles of soda where my husband couldn’t find them, because I didn’t want him to know how much pop I really drank.

I’m more than happy to say I got past it, well maybe not all of it.  I still hide behind a large cup of caffeine (Does this say something about my insecurity and introvertedness, or what?), but now it’s reusable and filled with the pure goodness of herbal tea. Kicking Diet Pepsi out of my life for good didn’t come easy either.  It took many years of trying and failing.  After all the years of failing, I’ve found that the answer to succeeding was in the ritual.

Caffeine is important in our house.  My former principal, Sandra Lundquist, used to keep chocolate in the office for the teachers.  She used to say, “Feed the teachers, or they’ll eat the children.”  This is what caffeine does in our house.  It ensures my husband and I not only refrain from eating the children, but each other as well. We don’t just have a crush on caffeine at our house, we love caffeine.  We’d probably marry it if we could.  So I knew I couldn’t just get rid of pop.  I had to replace it with some caffeine goodness.  Now my husband is the coffee drinker and I am the tea drinker; however, it’s so much more than getting coffee, tea, and caffeine into our bodies.  I never really get the same satisfaction from dipping a tea bag in hot water or buying a tea at a coffee shop, as I do from gathering herbs from the garden, putting them in my real teapot, and pouring hot water over loose tea leaves to steep.  Similarly, my husband doesn’t just turn on a coffee pot in the morning.  We grind his organic, Sumatran coffee beans and brew it by the glass before adding just a dab of raw honey and a bit of half and half.  Rituals.  The first sip of that herbal tea, out of my treasured mug a dear friend gave me, is so much grander for the ritual. Because it was never just about the Diet Pepsi, it was about the comfort that huge Styrofoam cup full of carbonated aspartame brought me. I know it’s weird.  Let’s face it, it was about the caffeine too.  I couldn’t ever truly give it up until I replaced one ritual with another that was even more comforting, my pot of loose leaf tea with herbs my husband planted in the garden just for me.

I have no desire to go back to diet soda for several reasons.

  1. Artificial sweeteners make my head and my body ache every time I have them now. The reaction is almost immediate. I was only able to notice after I gave my body enough time to clean out all their yuckiness (that should be a word).
  2. They taste gross.  There is almost nothing REAL in a diet soda, and I have given my body enough time to truly lose the taste for fake.
  3. I have a ritual that is so much more meaningful, comforting, and healthy than anything I ever got from a Big Gulp.

I can hear the arguments coming from the crowd already about not having enough time, but you know where I stand with time if you’ve read my post about Harvesting Abundance. The truth is that it takes me less time to go out to my garden, pick my herbs, and brew my pot of tea, than it took me to buy my huge cup of pop twice a day at a gas station.  Not to mention, I’m voting with my dollars – the best way to vote, in my opinion.  I’m making something for myself, in my own home, out of a clean tea pot that only I have touched, that couldn’t possibly be harboring salmonella.  Soap box over.  Let’s make tea!

I start with this teapot I found at a discount store for only $9.


I place my favorite herbs in the bottom of the pot – a little chamomile (calming and relaxing), calendula flower and leaves (anti-inflammatory), and lots of mint (great for a lot of things, but I love the flavor).


Now I add my tea to the stainer.  Because my tea pot holds enough for about four cups of tea, I use four teaspoons (literally) of loose leaf tea.  I prefer a mix of Irish breakfast (for its caffeine and smooth, not bitter flavor) and green tea (for all of its antioxidants).  The green tea I use most often is called gunpowder green.  It’s tiny green tea leaves that are rolled and dried.  They uncurl and “grow” as they steep. I use two scoops each of a black tea and green tea.


gunpowder green tea


black tea

Green tea is a little more delicate than black tea.  It can only steep for about 4 minutes with water that’s heated to a temp just below boiling.  Otherwise, it will burn and get bitter.  I actually put my tea pot right under the Kureg, and fill directly with hot water that way.  I’m sure to set a timer for 4 minutes, or I’ll end up with a bitter tea flavor I’m not fond of.


I usually drink my first cup warm, out of this sweet mug that brings me joy every time I use it.  After that, I pour the tea over ice in a, you guessed it, very large reusable cup that I carry with me where ever I go throughout the day.

<3 my mug, Katie Dickinson!

❤ my mug, Katie Dickinson!

I prefer to buy my teas at Nature’s Pantry (Vitamin Cottage) in the bulk spice section.  They have an organic gunpowder green tea and the Irish breakfast tea I like.  Their price per ounce is very reasonable.  I’ve done a lot of experimenting to find my tea preferences.  Luckily it was fun.  Do some experimenting of your own to find your own flavor.  A couple good sources for ordering online are Teavanna (I like their “Jade Citrus Mint”) or The Tea Spot (They are in Boulder, so much more local if you’re in Colorado.).  You can find all the teaware and accessories you need to get started at either place too. Let us know about your experimenting or your favorite rituals, whatever they may be, in the comment section below.  We would love to live and learn with you!

*Big thanks to Danielle Jubak for introducing me to my new ritual.

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