I need to drink something at night when I’m not drinking beer. Otherwise, what am I going to do, just sit there and look at my empty hands? The go-to for the nights when I’m not drinking beer, whether it is for a night or two, or a month or more (lot more? We’ll see) is tea. Usually mint tea, because I am not a fancy person who can necessarily differentiate the tasting notes of your various black teas. If there is a single characteristic I find in black teas, it’s that it tastes like the weak Folgers coffee my mother makes. It’s okay, she’ll complain just as vociferously about the super dark coffee we drink and will usually ask where the nearest Dunkin Donuts is on the way out the door to go home.
Nope, for me, at least at night, it’s some kind of mint tea. Refreshing. I can recognize mint as tasting like mint, so I don’t have to feel bad about myself. Plus it’s decaf. Important. There might come a day where on top of giving up drinking alcohol, I’m going to have to stare into the caffeine mirror. For now, it’s a necessary pleasure, not going to overdo getting rid of everything I enjoy. I do have to make sure I stick to the no coffee after noon plan. There is decaf coffee, which I made a quick feint toward when I was not quitting drinking, but edging in that direction and trying not drink beer every single night. Not only decaf, but instant decaf, like living in a TV commercial from the 1970s. It was horrible. I still have the Folgers crystals in my cabinet. Not going to rule out going to that well for a change of pace at some point, but decaf instant crystals will mess up your insides more than stuff that isn’t good for you. Stay away, drink refreshing decaf mint tea. You’ll also get the extra bonus of still having to pee a lot at night. It’s good to keep some routines in place. If I drink tea during the tea, I’ll branch out into green tea. It smells like the front lawn, and makes me jittery even though the Man wants you to think green tea has less caffeine than coffee, but it’s either a lie or my front lawn is laced with low-grade speed. Still, green tea is one of those traps I fall into where I put my faith in the oxidants, or anti-oxidants, or whatever the good stuff outside the low-grade speed in it is supposed to be. Green tea also seems somehow more tied to ritual or spirituality, although the only ritual is using the same battered tea kettle I also use to heat up water for Folgers decaf crystals, and the only spirituality is the spirituality of feeling like my body is jerking around like David Byrne in the Talking Heads Once in a Lifetime video.
Buying new boxes of tea also, to a slight extent, helps ease the desire to walk into the package store and buy beer. Plus three bucks for a box of tea is a lot less than 20 bucks or so for a 12 pack of the craft beer. This does lead to the giant underbed plastic storage organizer which is now no longer underneath the bed, but on top of the cabinet stuffed with half-empty boxes of tea. It’s a fun task to occasionally reorganize the tea storage unit and make it all look neat, it’s sort of like reorganizing the sock drawer, but smells better.
At the core, tea is a replacement for the beer because I need some kind or routine or ritual at night, and while the first sip of tea might not quite elicit the same Pavlovian response as that first sip of beer, at the end of the night I don’t feel fatter and dumber.