With the exception of a few cleanse-related circumstances, I’ve had coffee or espresso every day of my adult life starting in high school and never missing a day. I’ve contemplated giving up coffee in vain but never did it full stop because the taste is divine and the morning ritual kept me grounded—or so I thought. Deep down, I’ve always been afraid to quit coffee cold turkey because it feels like it’s part of who I am. And when I gave it up for a cleanse, I’d experience a full five days of withdrawal headaches. Oy vey.
But coffee was always there for me. American culture seems to have positioned it to be a magical potion, and I bought into it big time. Feeling tired? Coffee. Stressed? Coffee. Need an emotional pick-me-up? Coffee. Afternoon slump? Coffee. Instead of approaching it from a functional standpoint, coffee became a mental and emotional crutch.
It didn’t give me any problems until my late 20s, when I started experiencing dizzy spells, heart palpitations, and full-on panic attacks for the first time in my life. If I forgot to eat even one meal or snack, I’d go into low-blood-sugar mode and get the shakes, which would induce a wave of panic. Tunnel vision, tingly limbs, and a terrifying feeling of not being able to trust my body would ensue. Sometimes I felt like I was going to pass out. Others, I needed to find something to eat immediately and rest. But I didn’t trace it back to coffee, nor did my doctors.
I’d had matcha before and wasn’t sold—it was too grassy and bitter for my taste. But after a fateful trip to Matchaful, the new cafe a few blocks from mindbodygreen HQ, I decided it was time to try a full month of matcha. For me, the tipping point was convenience. I don’t brew coffee at home; I buy it daily, so being able to pick up a matcha was key. Also, it was February—the shortest month of the year—I figured I could do it for 28 days. And so I did.
I’m not gonna lie; the first week was rough. I endured withdrawal headaches, but they were never as bad as relinquishing caffeine altogether. I also learned the hard lesson that not all matcha is created equal. I got a few matchas at other restaurants and matcha shops in the city, but none were as good as the single-origin jade-level matcha I was drinking. “Single origin” means it all comes from the same farm and allows for better quality control. If you’re switching from coffee to matcha, I recommend getting a higher grade, at least at first, to help with the taste.