There are moments when you’re out & about that a nice hot latte would be just the thing. Only please make mine caffeine free and sugar free! Now if you could order a cup of Teeccino at a coffee bar, you would have a perfect, delicious full-bodied latte. After all, that’s what inspired me to create Teeccino to begin with – you can hear it in the name – I wanted a caffeine-free cappuccino or latte please!
Sad to say, most coffee bars haven’t yet figured out that there are customers like all of us Teeccino lovers, who don’t want a cup filled with caffeine and sugar. My adventure in search of just such a latte last Saturday morning, when I found myself with an hour to spare before my yoga class, illustrates how hard it is to find this.
I’ll have a Teeccino please!
If I’m at a restaurant, I feel no qualms about ordering a cup of hot water and using my own Teeccino Tee-bag after a meal. But if I’m out & about, then I need a latte to go. You can’t very well just ask for a cup of hot water at a coffee bar since their whole purpose is to sell beverages. So I was thankful when Starbucks started offering Tazo’s caffeine-free Vanilla Rooibos Tea Latte though I had to be mindful of telling them, “No sweetener!” when I ordered at the counter.
So off I went in search of a latte at the nearby Starbucks (is there anywhere that doesn’t have a nearby Starbucks?) only to find that they had discontinued their one and only caffeine-free latte as they transition to serving Teevana teas instead of Tazo. Bummer!
Rooibos, the fermented red tea
Tazo’s tea bag was oversized so it could hold a lot of rooibos, the only herb that is fermented like tea (think black tea), which gives it enough body to make a perfect milky concoction like a latte. Originally, they had had a rooibos tea that they insulted by adding citric acid. Yikes, the milk would curdle immediately when you added it. But they finally had gotten the right idea and instead had real vanilla beans with rooibos in their tea bag. It made a yummy latte if you made sure to ask for it unsweetened – only now it’s gone. Sigh.
But down the road, is a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and they serve a Rooibos Chai Latte that is ok, not my favorite, but it would have to do. Normally, my favorite herbal tea is a nice cup of spicy rooibos chai. I made the very first rooibos chai for The Republic of Tea back in the early 1990’s and another delicious one for Yogi Tea. But I’ve never been able to identify this odd off flavor in the one sold by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf so I only buy it when there is no other choice.
(By the way, they’ve also copied a number of other teas that I made for The Republic of Tea, even calling them the same name like Chamomile Lemon and Ginseng Peppermint. Only they left out some of the best herbs in my formulas, which of course, are more expensive but are key to creating a really superior cup of tea. Thank you, Republic of Tea, for recognizing the value of premium herbs!)
Have some artificial flavor with sugar!
This morning, with all this extra time I had, I took a moment to read the ingredients on the tin in the retail part of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. After all, maybe I’m just attached to my own formulas and I should be open to someone else’s take on a rooibos chai. Whoa! What’s this artificial flavor doing in it? Really Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, can’t you make a great tasting tea without resorting to chemicals? No wonder I couldn’t identify this weird flavor note. I never eat or drink anything with artificial flavor.
So I have to confess, by this time, my desire for a Rooibos latte was really strong and I didn’t have any other choice. (Sad to say, no coffee bar in this part of Montecito serves Teeccino.) Ok, I’ll order one and try to get past the artificial flavor spoiling it. I waited for it to cool down a little before taking my first sip. Searingly sweet! OMG, how can people take that much sugar?? I had forgotten to say, “no sweetener”, so they had put in an artificial vanilla blended with sugar – one of those powders that coffee bars rely on to spike sugar through the roof.
Reset your taste buds
It used to be that sugar was used in normal amounts to sweeten but not to overpower. Why has that changed? In the commercial fight for consumer dollars, companies have sweetened in ever greater quantities to sell their foods and beverages. People who consume sugar regularly have deadened their taste buds to sweetness. They actually require more and more sugar to even start to taste sweetness. This is why commercially sweetened foods and beverages are such a shock to someone like me who rarely consumes sugar. The spiral towards more sugar keeps going ever upwards. Where will it stop? When will people finally get it? All that sugar is destroying our health!
So here’s my recommendation. If you can tolerate the sweetness of one of those blended drinks they sell at coffee bars, your taste buds need a sugar break. They’ll recover in a month or so and reset to a normal tolerance level on the sweetness scale. You’ll be much much (did I say much!) better off as your sweet tooth calms down and requires much less sugar to satisfy it.
As for being able to buy a caffeine-free and sugar-free latte in your local coffee bar, please ask for a cup of Teeccino even when you know they don’t serve it. Always act surprised if they‘ve never heard of Teeccino. What? You don’t serve Teeccino yet? Get with the program. Herbal coffee is where it’s at! If we all keep asking, one of these days, whenever the desire hits, you’ll be able to order a nice Teeccino cappuccino or latte at your local coffee bar. Now that would be great indeed!