It was last October. I’d had a stressful time at work and been put on medication to straighten things out. “Take more exercise,” the doctor said, “and avoid caffeine.” It sounded easy enough: I’ve never been someone who consumes much caffeine. I didn’t even start drinking hot drinks until I was in my twenties, so until then my intake of caffeine came from chocolate and Coke. At most, I was having three cups of tea a day, but usually only one or two.
So I got myself some decaffeinated tea bags, and thought that would be the end of it. And then began one of the worst headaches of my life. I get frequent migraines, so I have plenty of experience in this area, and this one was rough. Normal painkillers had no effect, and then I realised my usual migraine medicine had caffeine in it, so that was off the list. The headache lasted for around three days, but eventually it faded away.
And ever since then, I’ve been (mostly) on the decaffeinated stuff. At home I have decaf tea, but I have never for a minute contemplated giving up chocolate, so I prefer to believe there’s not much caffeine in it… Sometimes I fall off the wagon: if we’re visiting people and I’m offered tea, I prefer not to make a fuss. And if I’m having bourbon, I like it with Coke. Real Coke, the full fat kind that has real sugar and real caffeine in it.
What I have eventually started to miss is variety: there’s not much on offer in the decaffeinated tea world. Even jasmine tea has caffeine in, and I’m not a fan of the fruity teas (they smell so nice! they taste nothing like they smell!). I found some decaffeinated English breakfast tea which is very nice, but I have not yet found any black vanilla tea, something I used to really enjoy.
At the hotel we stayed at in Switzerland, they had a selection of teas on offer each morning, and most days I had a little peek at them, but then reluctantly opened up my little container of brought-from-home tea bags, and had one of those instead. More than once though, I had their black vanilla tea, and it was lovely. So on the last morning, I tucked one of those tea bags inside my little tupperware container, and brought it home. It’s now living in the same jar as all my regular decaf tea, and that has brought about a revelation: all of my tea now tastes of vanilla! Why didn’t I think of this before? I’m going to start a new jar, and fill it with decaffeinated tea and vanilla pods, and then sit around drinking vanilla tea all day long.