Tea drinkers often fall into one of two categories: those with iron-clad tea habits and those without. These tea habits may involve drinking only specific types of tea at specific times, using specific tea wares with specific teas, or always steeping certain teas in certain ways. I certainly have some tea habits; however, they are far from iron-clad as my tea habits often shift depending on what my schedule is during a given period or on what I am doing.
One of the things that tends to shift the most is the amount of tea that I drink—whether this is the overall amount or the amount of certain types of tea. If you are anything like me, you may go through periods when your tea consumption goes up or down, sometimes incrementally, sometimes more so. It could depend upon things like increased workload, more free time, or simply having more tea in the house.
Recently, I noticed that my black tea consumption went up considerably. This was in part due to a lack of access to the other teas that I normally drink (rather tragically, I ran out of both my Japanese green tea and my oolong around the same time), and in part due to an increased need for afternoon pick-me-ups (the result of a heavy workload and not quite enough sleep). For the most part, this was not really a problem— indeed, many people would consider getting to drink more tea an excellent thing— and I certainly do not have any complaints tastewise. However, in this particular instance, I found myself becoming less sensitive to the caffeine in the tea. The effect was twofold: firstly, I felt the need to drink even more tea (again, not such a terrible thing for my taste buds), and secondly, I found myself defaulting to black tea over green or oolong, even when I once again had access to those teas.
Although it is tempting to put that behavior down to a dependency on caffeine, the issue of caffeine levels in tea is not as straightforward as it is often claimed to be (take a look at this article for an insight into the complications surrounding the issue), and my defaulting to black tea was really just a taste habit. I had got into the habit of drinking a lot of black tea, and this is what my body expected when I thought of having a cup of tea. Luckily, it didn’t take too long to remind myself why I also drink a lot of green and oolong tea— just a cup or two and my taste buds were back on board. Nevertheless, it did take a few days to stop myself automatically reaching for my tin of black tea when I felt the urge to brew up a cuppa—to kick the black tea habit, if you will. And whilst having a black tea habit falls pretty low on the cause-for-concern scale, it did leave me with one thought: tea habits, like any habits, can be hard things to break.
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