As a not-so-morning person who thrives on caffeine to spark productiveness, it is extremely easy to become dependent on coffee. In fact, I believe that I may have developed OCD: Obsessive Coffee Disorder. My go-to morning drink is a tall Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino with extra whipped cream. The cost of funding my caffeine addiction was getting quite ridiculous, in both cash and calories.
For a week, I decided to experiment with my morning caffeine options and replace my beloved Starbucks Caramel Frappe with a morning caffeinated tea. After raiding the breakfast aisle at Target, I found Tazo chai vanilla caramel tea.
Prep Time: Obviously I cannot afford a personal barista to serve tea by my bedside. Thankfully, self-service is free and really simple. My total prep time took about 8 minutes—which is about the equivalent of the wait at Starbucks. I used my microwave to boil an 8-ounce mug of water, added the tea bag, let it steep for 5 minutes for full flavor, and added a tablespoon of 100 percent organic honey as sweetener. (Overall Prep Time: 3.5/5)
Taste: The overall taste of the Tazo tea was quite satisfying—the black tea base with caramel vanilla flavor was very rich and smooth. The tablespoon of honey also added the perfect amount of natural sweetness. However, I found myself craving the extra sugar from the whipped cream and drizzle of the Frappuccino. (Overall Taste 4.5/5)
Energy: In addition to being a not-so-morning person, I need caffeine to keep me fueled for at least a 10-hour day. The morning tea was moderately caffeinated, which provided a much needed energy boost. I found myself more energized than usual, especially around mid-afternoon when I’m usually ready to crash. When I did begin to feel tired in the evenings, my energy depletion was a lot more forgiving than crashing from a Starbucks’ sugar high. (Overall Energy: 4.5/5)
Calories: Though I’m not a crazy calorie-counter, I figured that it would be important to compare the content of the coffee and tea. One cup of Tazo tea has 70 calories (0 from fat), while a tall Starbucks Caramel Frappe has 300 calories (100 from fat). I had to compensate the fewer amount of calories from the tea with a bigger breakfast. I also found that the Tazo tea was a lot easier on my digestive system, due to the lack of excess dairy. Unlike the Starbucks drink that usually leaves me with a slight bloat, I felt no digestive discomfort with the tea.
Price: As far as price, the Tazo tea is definitely more cost-effective than Starbucks every morning. A box of Tazo containing 20 tea bags is $3.77 at Target, which is $0.02 more than one tall Caramel Frappe before taxes. Drinking Tazo tea reduced my morning drink budget by $3.77 per day. (Overall Price: 5/5)
Overall, I found the Tazo tea to be a healthier and more cost-effective alternative to Starbucks coffee. I don’t think that I can completely give up my Caramel Frappuccino addiction, but the morning tea is a nice replacement. Either way, a cup of caffeine a day keeps the grumpies away.