Coffee may have its perks, but there are some other tasty drink options that can also energize your mind and body first thing in the morning. Whether you’re looking for a warm beverage choice with little or no caffeine, or seeking a little caffeinated variety beyond your traditional cup of joe, consider giving these expert-recommended, non-coffee alternatives a try.
Matcha Green Tea Latte
Commonly used in Japanese tea ceremonies, matcha tea is hand picked, ground into a powder and flash frozen to preserve freshness before being packaged into a container. Although it’s a delicate, young variety of tea, it’s jam-packed with nutritional benefits.
“Matcha tea is very high in antioxidants, amino acids and chlorophyll, which is responsible for its beautiful bright green color,” says McKel Hill, R.D.N., founder of Nutrition Stripped and author of Nutrition Stripped: 100 Whole-Food Recipes Made Deliciously Simple. “Unlike normal teas, you’re actually drinking the entire matcha leaf, not just the tea water, which is one of many reasons why matcha tea is much more nutrient-dense than standard green tea.”
Not only is matcha tea beneficial for the body, it’s also beneficial for the brain. “The subtle caffeine content helps with focus, which could be because theanine increases serotonin, dopamine, GABA and glycine levels in the brain,” notes Hill.
While there are many ways to enjoy matcha tea, Hill personally prefers enjoying a matcha tea latte in the morning to allow a little time and space for her mind and body to prepare for a productive workday ahead. Here is her delicious dairy-free recipe:
- ½ cup hot water
- ½ cup organic light coconut milk (can substitute almond milk)
- 1 teaspoon matcha tea powder
- 1 tablespoon honey, maple syrup or stevia to taste (optional)
Add the matcha tea powder to a small amount of hot water in a favorite mug. Using a bamboo whisk*, briskly whisk in a up-and-down direction to make a thick, green paste. Pour remaining hot coconut milk and water into the paste and stir. If you’re using a sweetener, add it now.
The matcha will dissolve quickly and easily. To add froth, reserve some of the hot coconut milk and separately froth in a cup, then gently pour in the matcha tea. Enjoy hot or warm.
*Don’t have a bamboo whisk handy? Hill suggests adding a small amount of hot water into a mug with the matcha tea and using the back of a spoon to stir into smooth, green paste. Finish by adding the remaining hot water and coconut milk of choice, and sweeten with stevia, honey or maple syrup, if desired.
Nut and Seed Milk
Steeped in Ayurvedic tradition, this nourishing and immunity-boosting nut and seed milk blend offers mind and body benefits.
“This tridoshic drink, which is favorable for all seasons and all body types, contains magnesium, iron, calcium, protein and fiber,” shares Indu Arora, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT, yoga and Ayurveda therapist. “The nourishment it provides makes it an ideal morning beverage to keep blood sugar levels balanced, while also reducing inflammation and supporting the nervous system.”
In a glass half filled with water, add the following and soak overnight:
- 1 dried fig
- 1 medjool date
- 1 tablespoon raw pumpkin seeds
- 5-6 golden raisins
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 tablespoon white poppy seeds
- 1-inch piece fresh peeled ginger
- 8-10 raw almonds
In the morning drain water, peel almonds, remove pit from date and place all ingredients in a blender. Add 6 to 8 ounces of hot/warm water; blend until smooth and enjoy.
After a solid night’s sleep, rehydration is a top priority. To help keep bloat at bay and ease digestive discomfort, try this simple combination that is a personal favorite of The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, R.D.N., and Tammy Lakatos, R.D.N., authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure.
“This is the ideal drink if you overindulged on food and drinks the night before and are feeling bloated and experiencing stomach discomfort,” note the twins. “Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties to help protect cells from damage done by free radicals and other toxins (like those from not-so-great food and drink choices), and lemon offers a shot of vitamin C and helps to restore normal fluid balance in the body.”
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 lemon, cut in half (reserve half for garnish)
- 1 cup of hot water
Boil water and make ginger tea by pouring hot water into a cup with the ginger. Allow to steep for 2-3 minutes. Pour the water from the ginger tea through a strainer and into a glass to remove the ginger. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the ginger tea. Slice the remaining half of lemon and use to garnish. Drink warm or cool.
A common alternative to coffee, tea has a fraction of the caffeine yet offers a host of health benefits.
“The combination of caffeine and naturally occurring L-theanine produces a dose-dependent alert, yet relaxed state, though a few cups may be needed to notice an effect,” shares Marie Spano, M.S., R.D.N., C.S.C.S., sports nutritionist for the Atlanta Hawks. “Those who drink three or more cups of black tea daily have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke, and there is also research to suggest that tea may help prevent some types of cancers in some individuals.”
Looking for a little twist on a traditionally steeped cup of tea? While you could explore other types of tea, like green or oolong tea, for example, The Nutrition Twins suggest adding a little mint for an additional perk, as its anti-inflammatory properties can help ease digestion while adding flavor to your morning beverage.