It is Tuesday morning, and I am hung over. Now, as far as hangovers go, this one isn’t too extreme—my headache is only slight, and here I am, swiveling back and forth in my plush office chair, accomplishing things. So I’m not complaining. That said, it would be nice to feel a little bit better.
Usually my hangovers take place on Sundays, where I spend the day watching romantic comedies and steadily pushing food into my face. But today is Tuesday and I am required at the office, so my treatment methods are different—I have to be alert, active, on it. So when I woke up, I made myself a large iced coffee to jump-start my recovery.
It didn’t work.
I should have known that coffee, while the perfect antidote for my sluggish mind, would upset my already shaky stomach. So here I am, swiveling in my office chair, rectifying my morning mistakes.
The first order of business was to order in some huevos rancheros from our neighborhood Mexican café, complete with superbly spicy salsa verde. The second, which I am tackling now, is to consume cup after cup of strong black tea.
I should have started with tea. Forgive me this oversight—it is my instinct to blindly grab for the coffee grinder in the mornings. But tea, on the day of a hangover, is a truly better option. First of all, it is actually hydrating. This point has been debated, as caffeinated beverages have generally been thought to dehydrate the body, but this is not always so—recent studies have indicated that only a very high intake of caffeine inhibits hydration (the equivalent of 5-6 cups of tea at once, or perhaps that of the Americano that I regretfully began my day with).
Secondly, tea is energizing. In addition to the mighty caffeine, tea leaves carry a host of stimulating xanthenes such as theophylline and theobromine, each of which have unique effects on the body and mind. Theobromine opens up the lungs and helps you to breathe better (breathe better, feel better!) and theophylline increases the levels of dopamine in the brain, giving the drinker a warm, fuzzy feeling of well-being. This feeling is priceless when the hangover-blues start to sink in.
Finally, let’s look at the belly, the organ that is turning flips within my core as we speak. I’d like to say that a sip of tea will sing that organ to sleep, but it is just not so. It won’t, however, make it any worse, which is more than I can say for its counterpart. Coffee has a tendency to upset the stomach with its highly acidic nature. Had I remembered tea’s gentler disposition this morning, I would have reached for my strainer rather than for the grinder, and my boss may not have been subjected to my musical groans and grimaces this morning.
Of course, all of this said, the really beneficial swap would have been last night—the shot glass for a teacup. But alas, then it would just be any other Tuesday, and you and I would not have had this talk.
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The first time I tried chai was in the kitchen of my parent’s house, and served by my younger sister. “You have to taste this—” she insisted, pushing a mug across the countertop to me. She refused to elaborate on its contents. The flavors, she said, would speak for themselves.
The quality of water affects the taste of your tea; this is beyond dispute. The relative quantities of mineral salts, oxygen and trace elements determine the relative "liveliness" or "flatness" of a particular cup. To that simple substance we add the basic flavor of the leaf itself or an herbal substitute.