Low Caffeine Drink
April 4, 2017 7:18 AM   Subscribe

What do you recommend for someone who can't handle coffee or green tea yet wants a drink with a touch of caffeine? Prefer something healthy.
posted by zzazazz to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Try cold-brewing green tea; it makes for a more gentle caffeine buzz.
posted by travellingincognito at 7:20 AM on April 4, 2017

Though it's a bit of a pain to brew (or at least I have yet to figure out the secret to brewing it as swiftly as coffee, without the grounds causing my filter to clog a bit), Crio Brew, made from cocoa beans, is pretty tasty. It's 99% caffeine free - would something that low-caff work for you?
posted by DingoMutt at 7:21 AM on April 4, 2017

Soda would be the closest "with a touch of caffeine that isn't coffee or tea" but it is decidedly unhealthy. You could get diet soda, but it's not exactly healthy either.

You said green tea, have you tried black tea? This is the traditional 'iced tea' kind of tea. It has a different flavor then green tea.

You could also try a different approach. Something high in caffeine, like those 5-hour enrgy shots.. but only take a few sips - and drink water.
posted by INFJ at 7:23 AM on April 4, 2017

Chai? Hot Cocoa?
posted by Hanuman1960 at 7:28 AM on April 4, 2017

We often make iced tea using two litres of cold water, four herbal tea bags (fruity "teas", usually) and four green or black tea bags. You could easily do it with six or seven herbal tea bags and one or two black or green tea bags, as your caffeine threshhold allows. Just combine, leave sit for 6-8 hours, remove teabags, and sweeten to taste.
posted by mishafletch at 7:31 AM on April 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

I cannot drink green tea; it destroys my stomach in a way that black tea and coffee do not. I've found that white tea is a good alternative. It's just a little harder to find.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:33 AM on April 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

From your question I can't tell if you dislike the flavor of green tea and coffee or if they just have too much caffeine for you. In case it's the latter, both decaffeinated coffee and tea still contain some caffeine -- just a lot less than regular versions (although how much is left can vary by brand/process/etc.).
posted by darksong at 7:35 AM on April 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

I haven't seen it in a while, but a few years ago, stores used to sell caffeinated water. The brand name was Avitae, and Google indicates that it still seems to be available. I drank it a couple of times when I was trying to drink less pop, and a co-worker with ulcerative colitis drank it because she couldn't handle pop or coffee. It tasted like plain old bottled water.

And, of course, chocolate!
posted by kevinbelt at 7:41 AM on April 4, 2017

I like kukicha. It is tea made from twigs of the tea plant and has less caffeine than green tea. I get choice brand.
posted by azalea_chant at 7:43 AM on April 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Came in to suggest Kukicha twig tea. You simmer it on the stove, and it makes a delicious, malty low-caffeine tea. (If you end up liking it, Mitoku has a giant bag of loose organic Kukicha that I get about once a year for $35 and it lasts forever and is very high quality. They also have teabags.)
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 7:52 AM on April 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

i also enjoy white tea as a milder taste and lower caffeine drink. but you could also try those powder or liquid flavorings they make to add to water, and just add however much or little you want - crystal light and mio are both brands that have caffeinated types. not the absolute healthiest, but if you end up adding only a little, it's mostly water you're drinking anyway.
posted by carlypennylane at 7:54 AM on April 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you like green tea but find it hard on your tummy, try cold-brewing it. Less tannins are released that way, and less caffeine. And it tastes DELICIOUS.

Same with black or white tea. I literally toss a bag in with ice water and let it steep throughout the day. Very subtle light flavor and customizable.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 8:00 AM on April 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Cascara is one of my favorite lower-caffeine drinks. It's made from the dried skins and part of the mucilage of the coffee cherry. It's hard-ish to find, but worth seeking out to see if you like it. If you do like it, you should honestly try and find a roaster to buy a bunch from at a discount. It is sadly, not a popular drink right now, and historically has been a byproduct of the coffee producing process, which is usually turned into compost. It comes and goes for most roasters. There's not a huge market for it for real 'coffee' importers, and since it is actually a byproduct of coffee, it really doesn't cross over into the same distribution channels of tea producers. I personally think it fits closer to the 'tea' side of things, but it really has some heavy coffee vibes. It's really cool.

It kind of tastes like coffee without the 'brown.' It's really clean and bright, with a mellow acidity. There's no real maillard reaction flavors, or caramelization or anything. It's really tasty hot, but it's really good cold. I sweeten it with a little bit of honey, because it harmonizes very well with the natural flavor.

The better stuff I've had comes from Blue Bottle, but they don't seem to have it available right now. Kuma in Seattle has some right now, so does Klatch. While I've not had that exact cascara from Kuma, I've had others from that farm, and they're typically really good. I can't speak for the quality of the Klatch stuff. Madcap has some, but it seems a bit more expensive.

Other places that have had it in the past, but currently don't seem to offer it (and you might want to just call them, because they probably have it in the warehouse, just not up on their website; they'll get stoked you're looking for it) Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, Stumptown, Bird Rock, Water Avenue Coffee, Case Study. Honestly, if you have a mid-sized coffee roaster in your area, they might have some.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:04 AM on April 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

Loose green tea, plus a loose herbal tea, in a convenient mesh tea infuser. You can combine the two in whatever proportions you want.

You can also buy tea in bags that's a combination of green tea plus another type (ginger or mint are common partners).

If you want to be super careful, you can pre-measure the tea into tiny containers before it's time to make it (if I don't do this, I can sometimes find the amount of tea I use per cup gradually increasing every day).
posted by amtho at 8:43 AM on April 4, 2017

Also: green tea is supposed to be brewed at 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. I know that many tea recipes say to use boiling or near boiling water; that's for black tea, then the instructions got copied and duplicated everywhere. The lower temperature gives better flavor with less bitterness, and less caffeine.

You can also experiment with short brewing times (I find that 2 minutes is really enough) or even cooler temperatures. Note that other herbs may react to different temperatures differently, but generally it's fine.

Oh, also: hot chocolate!
posted by amtho at 8:46 AM on April 4, 2017 [4 favorites]

The flavored water brand "bai" has some caffeine.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 8:51 AM on April 4, 2017

You could buy caffeine capsules and dissolve one in the drink of your choice. Something hot and acidic like honey & lemon would be ideal.
posted by rollick at 9:17 AM on April 4, 2017

If it's that green tea has too much caffeine, you can partially decaffeinate it by steeping for a bit and tossing the "wash" water before brewing a full cup. You can't totally decaffeinate tea at home in 30 seconds, but depending on a few variables, you should be able to get a fair amount out.
posted by yeahlikethat at 9:21 AM on April 4, 2017

Half lemonade, half tea.
posted by empath at 10:53 AM on April 4, 2017

Yerba mate has caffeine. There are many health claims about it, but you'll need to do your own research to decide if it is "healthy".

Obviously there is black tea and white tea. No idea what the person can't handle about coffee or green tea, if it's the taste perhaps they would like one of those better. Some people like black tea but think green tea tastes horrible. Also, different brands taste different.

If this is more about the person wanting a touch of caffeine than specifically wanting that caffeine to be in a beverage, there are candies and chewing gums with caffeine in them.

It's also possible to buy caffeine powder, which could be added to whatever healthy beverage the person prefers. Obviously dosage is important here and caution should be taken not to accidentally add more caffeine than desired. It's possible to overdose on caffeine, which is very much not healthy.

If the person is wanting a stimulant beverage that doesn't necessarily have to have caffeine in it, rooibos is something to try -- some people feel is a stimulant, while others notice no effect.
posted by yohko at 10:57 AM on April 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Brown rice tea with a little matcha green tea is really nice...the brown rice gives it a toasty, sweet flavor, and there's just enough matcha to provide a little caffeine boost.

Good oolong tea has even less caffeine than green tea and a wonderful bouquet like a spring meadow full of wild irises. Taiwanese oolong from elevations of 3500 feet or more is really special.

By the way, both oolong and green tea should be brewed at around 175° F (80° C), not boiling temperature, and they should steep only for about a minute and a half at most. If the problem is bitterness and/or stomach trouble, you could be brewing for too long. And I second whoever said upthread that the first "wash" should be discarded. This is the traditional way oolong is made.
posted by tully_monster at 12:28 PM on April 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hojicha is roasted green tea. The high temperatures break down a significant portion of the tea's caffeine. I am very caffeine sensitive (I can have one cup of weak coffee before noon--any more than that, or any later than that, and I tremble and sweat all day. I make a single pot of hojicha in the morning and have 3-4 cups of it before lunchtime with no problems. It's also delicious--a bit toasty, nutty, and very slightly caramel-sweet).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:02 PM on April 4, 2017

Most "decaf" teas actually have some caffeine in them (because the process pretty much destroys the flavor so to preserve any of that there has to be some caffeine remaining). Have you tried any decaf teas to see if they give you any sort of low caffeine buzz? My mother, who is extremely sensitive to caffeine (gives her heart palpitations, very annoying), will drink decaf tea of different brands depending on how much caffeine she feels like she wants to deal with at any given time. Also, chocolate has caffeine in it, sometimes dark chocolate has more, so you can experiment with different drinking chocolate blends - you can do cold drinking chocolates or in smoothies, or very low sugar hot chocolates with cinnamon and chiles for flavoring. Or just drink water but have a square of a chocolate bar for a tiny buzz.
posted by Mizu at 4:46 PM on April 4, 2017

Mio flavoring drops have caffeine in some of the flavors. Not sure how much.
Plus, other sites say that the other ingredients in here are definitely not healthy, but I thought I would mention it.
posted by CathyG at 10:20 AM on April 5, 2017

Weak tea. Dip the teabag in for just a few seconds.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:30 PM on April 5, 2017

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