If you’re like me, you rely on a cup of coffee to help you get started first thing in the morning. A warm, steamy brew with an aroma that whiffs by gently as you take your first sip — just imagining it is enough to awaken the senses.

For centuries, we’ve been enchanted by this drug for its miracle effects on our bodies. Since the early discovery of caffeine’s stimulant effect, studies have since linked the drug to reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

But that caffeine also has a dark side. Drinking numerous cups in a day can leave you feeling jittery during the day and restless at night. Of course, caffeine tolerance varies by person, but four cups of coffee seems to be within the safe zone for healthy adults.

But what if it’s mid-afternoon and you still crave that much-needed energy boost, minus the caffeine crash?

Here are 7 alternatives you should try the next time you need a pick-me-up:

1. Chai tea

Chai is a combination of black tea and numerous spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. With its soothing, calming quality, it’s no wonder this tea is practically India’s national drink.

Serve with a dash of milk and a teaspoon of the sweetener of your choice. The creaminess of this drink will make your brain think you’re drinking coffee!

2. Hot carob

Carob has been cultivated for thousands of years in the Mediterranean. Although it tastes similar to chocolate, carob is caffeine-free and has only one-third the calories. For these reasons, carob is a popular ingredient in health recipes.

Hot carob makes a delicious substitute for coffee and hot chocolate. Just mix a tablespoon of carob powder into a cup of warm milk and add a bit of honey.

3. Lemon water

It might not seem like it, but a glass of warm lemon water is a simple way to help you feel alert and energized. The combination of lemon juice and water also helps digestion and promotes healthy skin.

There’ve been a number of times when I felt like drinking coffee, but a lemon wedge squeezed into warm water did the trick.

4. Yerba mate

Named the “drink of the gods” by indigenous South Americans, this popular brew provides a gentle and calm energy buzz without the negative effects of coffee. Yerba mate is rich with metabolism-boosting nutrients and antioxidants.

You can prepare yerba mate in a variety of ways — using the traditional mate cup, a coffee pot, or a French press, either hot or chilled.

5. Warm apple cider

Apple cider’s sweet, yet tangy flavor is both soothing and rejuvenating. Apple cider and apples both share the same health benefits, such as reducing instances of chronic diseases and damage from free radicals.

Warm or cold, apple cider with a dash of cinnamon may be just what you need on a crisp autumn day.

6. Chicory root coffee

This alternative is probably the closest tasting beverage you can get to coffee. Highly popular in New Orleans for its rich, slightly bitter taste, chicory root reduces inflammation and regulates blood sugar levels.

Steep a tablespoon of roasted chicory root in a large cup for several minutes, and top with almond milk and sweetener if desired.

7. Peppermint tea

With its minty taste, this tea is a refreshing choice any time of the day. The cooling sensation helps reduce pain and acts a natural breath freshener.

Peppermint leaves are fairly easy to grow outside. You can boil either fresh or dried leaves for a few minutes before drinking.

Drinking healthy beverages that restore your energy is important to maintaining a strong body. So the next time you take a break, try making one of these drinks to get you through the day.

Originally published at medium.com

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