Like most of us, I need a serious pick-me-up in the mornings to get me started. I’m not a morning person and I have no problems admitting it. I actually don’t know a single morning person in real life but that’s another conversation.
For my mornings to start off right, I needed my “Rap Caviar” Spotify playlist, my AirPods, and my coffee. Coffee gave me everything I needed to tackle my mornings – a high-octane caffeine boost to get my energy up and keep me stimulated.
For years, I started my mornings with an iced Americano from Starbucks and then later moved on to the iced cold brew from Blue Bottle. Whenever I traveled anywhere, I would be enamored by coffee shops. I would scan the menu looking for new roasts or different beans to try based on where I was.
I’ll admit I was an iced coffee girl through every season but I never felt like I missed out. Whether it was before work, before the gym, or after a crazy night out, the stimulation and energy boost would always come through for me.
Though I would usually get the jitters after my first cup, I wouldn’t think too much of it and would grab another cup to keep me going. Coffee was life and I had no reason to ever switch up.
Then, something changed after I turned 25. Outside of finally being able to afford a studio apartment and having laundry in my building (!!!), my body started processing caffeine differently. Very differently.
The jitters started worse and I couldn’t drink multiple cups of coffee every day like I used to. The afternoon crashes were real and I started getting headaches out of nowhere. I tried to switch to matcha lattes but that didn’t really work and I was left feeling cranky and miserable after my first cup of the day.
That’s around the time I started rediscovering masala chai. Masala chai was something that I started drinking in college thanks to my roommate (hey Priya!) but stopped when we stopped living together. A few months ago, I was scrolling through Tiktok in bed and found this DIY Chai Mix from Kolkata Chai and decided to give it a try.
I started making a cup in the mornings using oat milk and I noticed an even, sustained level of energy and sense of clarity I never got from coffee. It turns out the caffeine in tea is super different from that in coffee and binds with something called L-theanine which releases the caffeine in a slower, more controlled way. Um, finally thank you.
This slow-release doesn’t happen in a cup of americano, which means you get an intense hit of energy that quickly fades off, which explained my uncomfortable afternoon crashes.
On top of that, chai comes packed with natural immunity-boosting ingredients like cardamom and cloves which are brewed together when you’re making a cup. This helped me avoid getting sick for all of last winter because my body was getting a daily dose of bacteria-fighting ingredients from my cup of chai.
When I realized I was completely over my caffeine crashes, I became a total chai convert. But not that syrupy, over-sweetened chai that you see at most cafes, it has to be the real deal. I like the Kolkata Chai mix because it’s easy to make and is owned by people who actually come from the culture. Otherwise, you can try to find something from your local grocery store but they usually aren’t as fresh.
Take it from someone that never thought they would stop drinking coffee, if you need to find a better-for-you source of caffeine, Kolkata Chai is the way.