Saturday, May 21, 2016

Teetotal like you mean it

Here's the thing: I don't drink alcohol. I don't make a big deal about it or judge those who do imbibe; it's just never been something that interested me. This makes me an odd duck among expat journalists, of course, as we're expected to drink, smoke, have the occasional illicit drug experience, and cavort with women. I don't care, but it has led to some sideways glances at social gatherings.

In truth, I've been cutting out quite a few beverages from my life. I've been in the new apartment for about a month and haven't had a caffeinated beverage this whole time. Yes, I'm going off caffeine. Yes, again. Don't judge me.

I haven't even had non-caffeinated soda save for two glasses of ginger ale (assuming that counts). Part of it is down to another self-improvement kick. Caffeine is a stimulant, after all, and cutting back wouldn't be a bad idea seeing as heart trouble is not uncommon in my family. Even though the evidence behind the claims that drinking diet soda leads to weight gain is inconclusive at best, I figured eliminating it would be a good idea all the same. There's also the cost savings to consider. I have to make what little savings I have stretch until December 2017, so every bit helps.

So if soda and non-carbonated drinks are out, what's next? Find out below the jump.

I quite like fruit juice, but I'm not a fan of drinking my calories or the extra sugar that comes with it. I've drifted away from milk since living in Jakarta. Having a refrigerator that didn't work properly made keeping dairy products usable in Indonesia's tropical funk something of a challenge.

I live in Japan now, so I figured, why not tea? Yes, tea has some caffeine in it, but it's not carbonated, lacks the other drawbacks of soda, and may even have some health benefits. So I took the plunge and sampled the varieties pictured below:

From left: Green tea, rooibos, oolong, jasmine
From left: Lemon tea, Darjeeling
The verdict? Meh. While none of the teas were unpleasant, they really didn't grab me and make me want to drink them again. I'd say oolong was the best of the bunch; maybe my palate has just been ruined by decades of Western decadence. Lemon tea wouldn't be bad in a pinch, but the sweetener adds calories and sugar, both of which I'm trying to avoid consuming unnecessarily.

I really would prefer greater flavor in my beverage options. Unless more money starts coming in or I give in to drinking my calories, though, I'm pretty well stuck for ideas. It's tap water for me for the foreseeable future. I'd have more options if I wasn't trying to undo two decades of poor life choices, but that's a blog post for another day.

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