While I love the morning ritual of a hot cup of coffee, many people have to forgo caffeine for health reasons. When my pot-a-day habit started to increase my anxiety, I started exploring other caffeine-free hot beverage options. I'm glad I did. I've found some fantastic substitutes for my daily joe that feed my need for a hot mug on hand throughout the day.
1. Ginger-honey tea with lemon. Stir in a spoonful of honey in hot water and steep with a few slices of fresh ginger and the juice of half a lemon. This drink is slightly sweet, tart, and warm from the ginger. This is good any day of the week, but extra comforting when I'm feeling a bit under the weather. Ginger is known for soothing upset stomachs and is an anti-inflammatory, too, and is suitable for expectant and nursing mothers.
2. Herbal teas. There are a variety available for purchase; you can even grow several of your own. There are fruit-based varieties, spice-based varieties, blends to help you wake up in the morning, and blends to help you wind down in the evening. If you think you don't like herbal tea, try another flavor.
3. Rooibos. It's a "red" tea that's caffeine-free, full of antioxidants, and has a flavor so rich that you won't miss your coffee. It's perfect for re-creating a caffeine-free chai tea latte without the caffeine. You can use chai syrups, or make your own chai spice mix with cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, and fresh ginger. Mix the tea, spices, and a bit of milk or half-and-half, and you've got an all-natural, caffeine-free alternative to a $4 cafe chai tea latte.
4. Steamers. Starbucks sells "steamers," which are steamed milk mixed with flavored syrups. You can make these at home without any fancy equipment if you purchase the flavored syrups, which you can now find at the regular grocery store. To make your own steamed milk, simply shake milk in a glass jar until frothy, then microwave in a mug for 30-45 seconds. Of course, you could also use a immersion or regular blender to froth the milk, but it's really unnecessary. Stir in your favorite syrup, and you've re-created a steamer for a fraction of the cost. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg if you like. This is a simple way to get calcium into your diet.
5. Hot apple cider is perfect for a wintertime sweet treat, and is just about perfect next to a roaring fire. Fancy yours up with mulling spices, a cinnamon stick, or a touch of caramel syrup, if you have it. You don't even need actual cider; apple juice will work just fine.
What is your go-to caffeine-free beverage for a cold winter day?
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