10 Kicky Drinks Without the Caffeine

By Linsey Knerl on 25 September 2007 (Updated 11 May 2010) 25 comments

At one point or another, you may find yourself needing to cut caffeine from your diet (or at least scaling way back). While it may initially be a shock to your system to forgo the rush from your favorite coffee variety, I find that it also gets a little boring. As a tribute to all those who have had to do without, I give you 10 drink-worthy options without the jolt.

Decaffeinated Coffee

OK...so this one’s a gimmee. But we are way past the days when decaf came in one flavor. Many gourmet coffee roasters (Boca Java for one) give you just as many decaf options as the regular stuff. They smell and taste great, and you may not miss as much as you think.

Decaffeinated Sodas

Here’s another easy substitute. While they are getting more difficult to find in some areas, many of your most popular colas carry a caffeine-free version. But many will just ask, “Then why bother?”

Italian Sodas

Watch this one for calories, but it is an awesome little drink you can make at home. With sugar-free syrups in all the best flavors (I love hazelnut), you can whip one up with the recipe below:

4 tbsp. flavored syrup (Torani rocks!)
3/4 c. milk (half and half is richer)
Carbonated water (club soda works well)
Crushed ice

Mix the syrup and milk in a tall glass. Add carbonated water and ice until the glass is full. (Don't try mixing the ingredients in any other order or the milk will curdle.)

Milk

I personally am not a milk-lover. But 8 oz. of skim, with a few tablespoons of Ovaltine, goes down smooth and gives me a few extra vitamins and minerals.

Club Soda Spritzers

If you don’t like drinking the stuff straight, you can add a little lime or lemon juice to a glass of club soda over ice. Other great mix-ins include fruit juices and frozen fruit (blueberries, anyone?).

Teas

Hot or cold, tea can be a unique way to drink. Make sure your variety comes in decaf, and you can choose from chai, sweet tea, Chinese teas, green teas, English teas, or make your own using a diffuser and some dried chamomile or lavender.

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Vitamins

Yes, you can drink your vitamins. And there are some tasty brands out there that fizz a little when you add them to your water. Loaded with vitamin C and B complexes, you can get a little pick-me-up in a healthy way. (This is perfect for those who are little less than diligent about taking their vitamins.)

Fruit Juice

Remember drinking apple juice with your graham crackers in preschool? Well you can forgo the crackers and just enjoy a nice cold glass of apple, grape, or a blend of fruity goodness! Check your labels to be sure that you aren’t just consuming a bunch of high fructose corn syrup and flavored water. (And if you’re watching calories, add some water and ice to your juice.) Fruit juice counts as a 1/2 to one full serving of fruit, so you are really getting a good deal here.

Vegetable Juice

Nope. I’ve never been a V8 fan, and you’ll never see me drinking Clamato. I will, however, drink those new blends on the market that combine fruit and vegetable juices together. Made with carrot juice for a full serving of vegetables, it’s a sneaky way for me to avoid caffeine AND eat better. (And just like the fruit juice caveat, be sure you are getting 100% juices in your drink.)

Water

Who could forget the water? The healthiest and cheapest choice by far (unless you go bottled), getting your daily water intake will keep you far away from the ticks and pains that can sometimes accompany caffeine withdrawal. Jazz it up with a fresh mint leaf or an orange wedge.

Whether you're ditching the buzz for health reasons, or just feel the need to cut back a little, now is a great time to make the switch to unleaded. Here’s to slowing down and drinking it all in!

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Myscha Theriault's picture

There was this tea I bought once that really had a nice dark roasted nutty flavor. Wish I could remember the name of it, but it was made by one of those popular flavored tea brands you can get at the grocery store.

I went caffeine free when we were doing the fertility treatment thing a while back. God it was hard, but I did do it, so at least I have some skills when I eventually need to cut back again.

Guest's picture
Tisha

Tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks and chocolate share the same nerve toxin (stimulant), caffeine. Caffeine, which is readily released into the blood, triggers a powerful immune response that helps the body to counteract and eliminate this irritant. The toxic irritant stimulates the adrenal glands, and to some extent, the body’s many cells, to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream.

If consumption of stimulants continues on a regular basis, however, this natural defense response of the body becomes overused and ineffective. The almost constant secretion of stress hormones, which are highly toxic compounds in and of themselves, eventually alters the blood chemistry and causes damage to the immune system, endocrine, and nervous systems. Future defense responses are weakened, and the body becomes more prone to infections and other ailments.

The boost in energy experienced after drinking a cup of coffee is not a direct result of the caffeine it contains, but of the immune system’s attempt to get rid of it (caffeine) An overexcited and suppressed immune system fails to provide the “energizing” adrenaline and cortisol boost needed to free the body from the acidic nerve toxin, caffeine. At this stage, people say that they are “used” to a stimulant, such as coffee. So they tend to increase intake to feels the “benefits.”

Since the body cells have to sacrifice some of their own water for the removal of the nerve toxin caffeine, regular consumption of coffee, tea, or colas causes them to become dehydrated. For every cup of tea or coffee you drink, the body has to mobilize 2-3 cups of water just to remove the stimulants, a luxury it cannot afford. This applies to soft drinks, medicinal drugs, and any other stimulants, As a rule, all stimulants have a strong dehydrating effect on the bile, blood, and digestive juices.

Get the real scoop on caffeine at www.CaffeineAwareness.org
And if you drink decaf you wont want to miss this special free report on the Dangers of Decaf available at www.soyfee.com

Guest's picture
Guest

Tisha,

Not only is your comment chock full of junk science, but you are clearly a shill just posting to get some links to your own commercial web site.

Guest's picture
Patrick

Did anyone else read that as 10 Kinky Drinks? Would have made for an interesting topic.

Guest's picture
Marisa

Starbucks will sell *any* of their flavors in the large pump-sized bottles for less than the smaller bottles of Torani. (I think other chains (Caribou, say) would also do this.)

It's definitely a great deal and you can get a wider variety of flavors than you'd find at the grocery store.

Guest's picture
Barbara

Haha, Patrick, I did at first too.

Linsey, great note about the club sodas. I can do regular club soda with a lime wedge when I'm out drinking with friends (more than one alcoholic drink is beyond my allowed diet), but I found recently that my local grocery store stocks a huge variety of flavored club sodas in 20 oz. bottles. And at around $.60, they're a great cheap option too, without having to buy fresh fruit and chance it spoiling before you use it.

Myscha Theriault's picture

You wouldn't toy with me, would ya? That sounds like heaven to me. I'm such a coffee hussy.

Guest's picture
Lisa

I am truly addicted to caffeine. I love it and have to have it. Coca Cola is my drug of choice. :)

I know that I consume way too much soda, but I still consume it in massive quantities. Just can't stop!

Myscha Theriault's picture

 . . . know what the name of that tea might be. I think it was from Celestial Seasonings . . . I think it had the word roast in the name . . . It was really coffee like.

Guest's picture
Guest

Morning Thunder?

Guest's picture
Angel

I recently read an article about the benefits of chocolate milk....I can't find it now (naturally) but I remember its benefits being compared to those attributed to Gatorade. Now that's something I can get behind.

Myscha Theriault's picture

By jove, I think that's it. Thanks, Linsey!

Myscha Theriault's picture

Is that another one? I'll have to start compiling a list of these to go shopping for. Thanks for the info.

Guest's picture
Erin

I don't drink a lot of soda, but I love caffeine free pepsi! I think it tastes better than regular pepsi, although I never noticed the difference until I started drinking the regular version again. Almost all fruit flavored sodas are caffeine free, but Sunkist is not! It has quite a bit of caffeine as far as sodas go. I did a search for a caffeine chart a while ago and was surprised to see Sunkist on the list.

Linsey Knerl's picture

Thanks for all the soda info Erin.. I also seem to remember being able to drink one brand of rootbeer while I was pregnant because it was naturally caffeine free.  I believe Barq's was one I couldn't drink...but I'm not sure now.

Guest's picture
Guest

Barqs, though not the only, is one of the few caffeinated root beers. Most root beers are decaf, but check your labels. Barqs slogan is the "The one with bite" which means the one with caffeine.

Guest's picture
Annie

Okay, I'm in my second pregnancy (only 4 weeks to go woohoo!) and it was time to cut out the caffeine again... I did it completely in my first pregnancy but got back in the habit of my morning cup'o'goodness.. and let me tell you, having a 15-month-old to chase while being 8 months pregnant with NO caffeine is just not cool.
So thanks for the encouragement. The decaf coffee has been a go-to but it's just not tasting great and sometimes I want something awesome and refreshing midday when it's still way too hot for coffee (according to me, anyway). I LOVE Italian sodas but don't get them much because they are so expensive! What a novel idea- make them at home. I can't tell you how excited I am. :) Yay I can make it through the last month of pregnancy now. :)

Guest's picture
Wayne

How could you tell someone to drink decaf if they can't have any caffeine. All Decafe has caffeine in it.

Linsey Knerl's picture

There is a little caffiiene in some decaf drinks. Regulation requires that it be reduced by at least 97.5 percent.   If you are very sensitive to caffeine, your best bet is to avoid anything that has to be decaffed at all.  Good luck!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture
CJ

Thanks for the ideas. One caution about many sodas is they have lots of sugar or corn syrup which means quite a few calories. I found a cheap source of flavored seltzers and that's my new go-to for an afternoon drink. My boss's lunchtime favorite is seltzer with a few tablespoons of orange or cranberry juice.

By switching to seltzer and from coffee to green tea I ended up losing some weight, because I drink tea straight but put sugar and milk in my coffee. Just goes to show how much small things add up. (I still drink coffee, but it's now my Sunday treat that I can take time to enjoy.)

There are so many decaf teas out there that it's really worth the time to check out the options.

Guest's picture

Hey, nobody mentioned ginger beer or ginger tea! A nice, cold Stewart's (or most other brands, except Reed's) ginger beer has enough carbonation and bold ginger flavor to wake you up real quick! Without caffeine! Or, a hot cup of ginger tisane when it's cold outside is fantastic, especially when homemade from fresh grated ginger.

Ginger (consumed in many forms) is quite stimulating, without the downsides of caffeine (particularly in the form of coffee, which can be hard on the gastrointestinal and reproductive systems). Of course, ginger has numerous medicinal properties and uses, most of which are documented in the book, Ginger: Common Spice and Wonder Drug.

Guest's picture
Mr. E

• There are lots of studies that show caffeine is bad for you. But here’s the paradox: there a lot of studies that show that coffee and tea have great health benefits. Would that be because of the caffeine or in spite of it? A study showed that de-caffeinated tea did not have the anti-cancer effects of fighting tumors of tea with caffeine. In the case of tea, there is a substance that moderates or neutralizes the acute effects of caffeine. Unlike coffee, it’s hard to overdose on caffeine in tea because it has a unique amino acid, L-theanine, that actually relaxes you and relieves anxiety, and it does it without causing drowsiness. (You can even buy L-theanine supplements.) L-theanine moderates the acute effects of caffeine, and actually increases alpha brain waves. So, there you have it – unlike with coffee, you get the best of both worlds (energy, increased mental alertness and focus, plus relaxation and feeling of well-being) with tea.

Guest's picture
Guest

Water is by far the worst substitute for caffeine in this list. I don't yet understand why so many people want to cut down on caffeine.

Guest's picture
Guest

Decaf coffee and tea have smaller amounts of caffeine in them. Chocolate contains caffeine also. Read labels.