Tea noob: good caffeine-free teas I'll like? Other comfort drinks/food to consider?
November 27, 2011 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Comfort drinks/food: Can you suggest some good, full-bodied teas without the caffeine? What other drinks or foods should I consider? (Location: U.S.)

In an effort to reduce anxiety, I took up alcohol. Brilliant.

In an effort to reduce my alcohol intake, I recently took up tea lattes. Better. Unfortunately, it turns out caffeine can exacerbate anxiety.

I'm relatively new to tea, and this is all I know about it: I don't like sweet, fruity teas. Peppermint and chamomile function, but don't make my taste buds sing with pleasure. My favorite tea so far is this, especially with sweetened vanilla and milk. The package says it is made with green tea leaves and scented with jasmine blossoms, and that it has a "full body." I think "full body" is what I'm looking for in a tea: something rich and round and comforty. I want a mini-vacation curled up in front of a fireplace, all in my mouth.

What caffeine-free teas should I look at? Bonus if it's affordable and easily obtainable in the U.S.

Are there any other drink options I haven't considered? Water, milk, juice, coffee, and soda don't do it for me. Any easy, low-impact (fat- and sugar-wise) comfort foods? Other things for my hands and mouth to do while I'm working on the computer?
posted by Eolienne to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: ROOIBOS!!!! (south african red bush tea) Its starting to get pretty popular in the US and UK, Starbucks serves in the US... and can be had at specialty shops (that was 5 years ago so perhaps there's more around now. In the UK its commonly sold in grocery stores. Its LUSH! PS- I often drink it when I'm taking a night off of drinking and my SO is having his wine. I drink it with milk and sugar.
posted by misspony at 12:44 PM on November 27, 2011 [8 favorites]

Best answer: I'm allergic to caffeine, and drink a lot of lemon and ginger tea which is 'zingy' rather than sweet. I also like decaffinated chai (they sell chocolate chai here in Canada too which is lovely, you might also be able to get it in the US). I've found some nice gingerbread spice tea (that company that puts the bears on the packaging - can't remember the name?). Dandelion tea is pleasant and 'smooth' tasting, much like chamomile. On green tea: that still contains caffeine, so I don't drink it - although it contains much less than black.
posted by everydayanewday at 12:50 PM on November 27, 2011

Response by poster: Oh, I should mention that by "tea" I also mean tisanes, etc.
posted by Eolienne at 12:55 PM on November 27, 2011

Best answer: There are a number of chai teas that I've seen that are caffeine-free or come in decaf. Chai has a really specific, deep flavor, I think because of the cinnamon in it. I also like the wildberry zinger herbal tea from Celestial Seasonings, which isn't really a tea at all so it's decaf.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 12:58 PM on November 27, 2011

Best answer: Redbush/rooibos tea is probably ideal.

You could also try some Indian masala chai, particularly the Yogi Tea chais which have lots of variations on traditional masala teas with extra ingredients (Yogi also make lots of herbal teas too)
posted by BinaryApe at 1:00 PM on November 27, 2011

Best answer: If you're near a Trader Joe's check out their spiced rooibos. I think it's called Ruby Red Chai or something like that. It's really good. You may also want to try Good Earth, my mom's go-to spicy tea. Both these teas aren't stinting with the cinnamon, though, so if you don't like cinnamon you may not enjoy them.
posted by troublesome at 1:01 PM on November 27, 2011

Oh, I should have said that masala chai would normally include caffeine but some of the fancy varieties are low caffeine or caffeine free.
posted by BinaryApe at 1:03 PM on November 27, 2011

Best answer: Also- for anxiety-trying-not-to-do-other-things (like drink) ideas and not get fat:

veggie crisps from trader joes, popcorn, ryveta.... Horlicks is an english drink you can get in the US quite easily... full of fiber and meant to help you sleep.... cream of wheat... graham crackers, hard candy, chewy things, wearing teeth bleaching plates or strips, Vitamin fizzy effervescents (if you're reducing drinking you're probably low on the B's) sugar free hot chocolate, frozen yogurt, those round popcorn disks I can't remember the name of, saltines, poached or smoked salmon, smoked mackerel...seeds/nuts that need shelling, cool whip, figs, dates, dried cranberries...

I've been quite unregulated at times and paired these snack foods with meals that were full of lean protein...

All done by the computer!
posted by misspony at 1:06 PM on November 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know if they sell Twinings teas in the US, but if they do, look out for the Camomile, Vanilla and Honey one. Caffiene-free, and really delicious. It's great when you want something hot and sweet, but don't want any caffeine.
posted by anaximander at 1:12 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing rooibos as something to try. Also, since it's wintertime— spiced/mulled hot apple cider! Make it on the stovetop. A few cafés I go to will steam it with their espresso machine's steam wand, which is delicious.

Also, if you're not needing to cut caffeine out entirely, try some good whole-leaf green teas. I find that even if I drink enough tea to get the same amount of caffeine (which I do; I drink a lot of tea) I end up more relaxed and less jittery than if I'd consumed it in the form of coffee or cola or even black tea. Gunpowder is easy to find and has an astringency/bitterness that I like, especially on rebrewing. Matcha's a very different taste, and if you can find a place that does matcha well, it's also worth it— a very full taste, you can just sit there and contemplate each mouthful. Mmmmm. (However, badly done matcha is pretty disappointing.)
posted by hattifattener at 1:36 PM on November 27, 2011

I think you might really like orzo roasted barley. It's a kind of caffeine-free alternative to coffee, and very rich and full bodied. Good stuff.
posted by smoke at 1:38 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Pero is available in most health food stores and is a staple non-caffeinated hot beverage-- so good with milk and a bit of agave or honey.

Agreeing with above posters on rooibos.

Pukka is a great brand for herbal teas. My favorite is Harmonise and I think it actually won an award for flavor.

Licorice tea is wonderful too and is naturally sweet.

You mentioned that drink peppermint tea, but have you tried it with milk? Sweeten it a bit and it tastes like a candy cane. I might have to make myself a cup right now.
posted by seriousmoonlight at 1:44 PM on November 27, 2011

Best answer: My favorite teas are herbal ones with a strong cinnamon or licorice flavor. They're especially great when i'm feeling under the weather, mixed with some honey and lemon. I recommend:
-Aveda comforting tea
-Yogi throat coat tea
-Good Earth original sweet and spicy
posted by joan_holloway at 2:03 PM on November 27, 2011

Celestial Seasonings makes a lot of completely caffeine-free herbal teas. Like you, I don't enjoy fruit teas (they taste like bile to me); I have tried and enjoyed both the Honey Vanilla Chamomile and the English Toffee (which I believe has been discontinued). Their website has a pretty good rundown of their varieties (including whether they contain caffeine or not).
posted by enlarged to show texture at 2:18 PM on November 27, 2011

You might find rooibos chai to your liking -- caffeine-free and full of flavor.

I also like the various caffeine-free coffee replacements (with plenty of milk & sugar), usually made with carob or hazelnut. Teecino is one brand.
posted by linettasky at 2:21 PM on November 27, 2011

I think you might really like orzo roasted barley.

Another is chicory which is sometimes mixed with other grains. Inka is really good and so is Krakus, but might want to do a search because the ingredients vary.
posted by squeak at 2:22 PM on November 27, 2011

Response by poster: Also, if you're not needing to cut caffeine out entirely, try some good whole-leaf green teas.

I get jittery even on whole-leaf green tea, sadly. I'm a caffeine wimp.

WOW, some of these sound wonderful.
posted by Eolienne at 2:24 PM on November 27, 2011

I've been on a Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice kick recently. Cinnamon, cardamom, tasty.
posted by straw at 2:57 PM on November 27, 2011

My go-to is Celestial Seasonings' Mandarin Orange Spice - I drink it plain but can see it going well with milk/sugar. Will also second suggestions on chai and rooibos.
posted by Ponsonby Britt at 3:06 PM on November 27, 2011

Best answer: I'm fond of a lot of the Republic of Tea offerings, and they have a lot of herbal choices. Some personal favourites that sound like they might suit your criteria are Desert Sage, Orange Ginger Mint, Red Chai, and Get Relaxed. They do some seasonal blends, and even have a "Dream by the Fire" tea, as well as decaf versions of blacks and greens, as well as a huge collection of rooibos.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 3:15 PM on November 27, 2011

Seconding the Lemon and Ginger. I live on the Twinings variety, and have done for years.
posted by Chairboy at 3:20 PM on November 27, 2011

I recently discovered Ginger Orange Tea at the famous Moosewood restaurant in NY. Recipe here (disclosure: self-link).

Pros: spicy, warm, easy to make, totally caffeine free, very comforting.
(Potential) Cons: Contains fruit (orange).

You could easily omit the honey and cut the orange with water, if that's more to your taste.
posted by geeky at 3:40 PM on November 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Do you like Earl Grey? That, to me, is a tea that becomes a full-body experience, due to its heavy scent. Decaf Earl Grey should be readily available (Twinings, Bigelow, and Stash all offer it) and highly affordable in most any grocery store, though fancier versions can certainly be had, including naturally decaffeinated rooibos Earl Grey (available from Republic of Tea, among others).
posted by drlith at 4:28 PM on November 27, 2011

-- Chamomile (only if you get some decent chamomile from an ethnic (Easter European) store or an etailer -- not the stuff in baggies from Celestial Seasonings
-- Republic of Tea Ginger Peach Decaf (not as fruity as it sounds)
-- Mint
-- Bee Balm
-- Linden (also called Lime Blossom or Lime Tree)

For anxiety Tincture of Valerian is a wonder... you can put a couple of drops in a glass of water. A bit bitter and medicinal but you will quickly associate the flavor with it's calming qualities. :-)
posted by LittleMy at 5:05 PM on November 27, 2011

Best answer: The last time I ordered tea, the shipper included a free sample of Holy Basil Purple Leaf herbal tisane. I was skeptical, but it's DELICIOUS. Spicy and herbal and warming. I will be ordering more.
posted by KathrynT at 6:18 PM on November 27, 2011

Well, the first option is a decaf tea latte. I love the Oregon Chai mix with steamed or boiled milk. I'm sure it's chock full of sugar, however, if that's a concern. (Oh, it's honey, so, there you go.)

My second favourite chai, and the one I drink the most often, is Numi's Ruby Chai rooibos tea.

Also good are Zheyna's Gypsey Teas. They even have one called Fireside Chai.

Many black teas can be found in decaffeinated varieties. I drink a lot of Tetley's decaffeinated orange pekoe. This type is kind of the workhorse of teas.

Other full bodied black teas include English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Irish Breakfast, Assam, Darjeeling, Ceylon, Russian Caravan, Lapsang Souchong, etc. A decaf variety of any of these should give you the full flavour you're looking for.
posted by looli at 8:49 PM on November 27, 2011

You might like mugicha (Korean/ Japanese roasted barley tea). Caffeine free, not at all fruity, and a good body - however, I've only had the one made from whole grains, not teabags. Very comforting when drunk hot.
posted by tavegyl at 1:04 AM on November 28, 2011

Best answer: I sounds like we have similar preferences, and for cheap easy to get at the grocery store comforting winter tea I recommend Stash (you can order online directly from them too), and they have a lot of teas without caffeine that feel "thick"/rich/comforting and take well to cream/milk and raw sugar--just glancing at my tea curio I'd give Pumpkin Spice decaf, Vanilla Chai decaf, Vanilla Nut Creme decaf, Licorice Spice decaf, and Chocolate Hazelnut decaf all shout outs. They're not the greatest tea ever--Upton Tea Imports specializes in that sort of thing--but they are great on a cold damp day. I get exactly that "fireplace vacation" feel you're talking about with Stash even though it's still boxed cheap mainstream stuff (and on the occasions you don't mind a bit of caffeine, their caffeinated teas are awesome too--Holiday Chai is delicious, so's Double Bergamot Earl Grey). I could never stand the other stuff you find at the grocery store, always too saccharine-seeming or weak or too fruity.
posted by ifjuly at 7:09 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

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