Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ditching the Coke habit or how I learned to love the leaves

Hello, my name is Cindy and I am recovering from a Coke addiction.  I started when I was young. I don't remember my first taste but I am sure I was hooked right from the start.  It was always in our house.  Really I think it was a family addiction, my mom, myself, and my brother.  My dad would only take it occasionally.  Initially it was only on weekends, then I added afterschool, finally as a senior in high school preparing for college I started needing it in the morning.  I was taking a class at our local community college and it was so easy for me to get some in the morning before class.  It really took the edge off of being the youngest person in the class.

In college it was so easily accessible, free flowing, you could have as much as you wanted morning, noon, and night.  The habit got worse.  I told myself I could stop at any time. My boyfriend, now my husband, tried to turn me on to the leaves.  He once had a habit supplied by Dr.P and has turned to leaves as a substitute.  He claims they are better for you.  At the time I was fully engrossed, there was no way out.  I tried his leaves, they were way too bitter for me, I needed my sweet smooth Coke.   I was an athlete in college but the Coke seemed to have no negative effects.  I actually think my Coke before some meets actually enhanced my performance.

After college the habit started to take a toll on my body, I gained weight and felt bloated all the time.  Things were starting to get out of control. I started getting my Coke at school.  Something had to be done.  I told my students of my desire to break the addiction.  They had the power to call me out if they saw me with any Coke.  Unfortunately this led me to use more inconspicuous containers to hide my Coke so they wouldn't ask any questions. I had to create some rules for myself.  I decided that I could only have fountain Coke no more bottles, cans, or vending machines.

Wait what's the you say?  Why are you questioning cans or bottles?  Wait by you Coke you thought I meant...? What kind of person do you think I am?  You know by leaves I meant iced tea right.  Oh and I don't do that diet stuff. I have rationalized if I want it I want the good stuff that has slightly less chemicals.  I feel like diet is drinking a can of chemicals, not that the regular stuff has that many less chemicals.

So now that we have established the context of this post is not drugs but perfectly legal to any age beverages its time to discuss my road to recovery.  I kept trying the iced tea every once in a while but did not find it very tasty.  I realized that what I was actually addicted to was the bubbles. I love feel of the bubbles.  A friend growing up hated soda for that exact reason, for her the bubbles hurt her mouth.  I started trying carbonated water.  Carbonated water by itself really isn't that good so I add some lemon juice and its like a Sprite without the HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).  It is an acceptable substitute when you really need the bubbles.  The downside is that the bubbles are smaller, not really sure how I know that, and it goes flat much quicker.  That sufficed for awhile but it doesn't have caffeine and well the bubbles still made me feel bloated.  It was time to take the next step and embrace the iced tea, unsweetened of course.  Sorry to my southern friends but based on the amount of sugar in sweet tea I may as well just drink a soda.

I started with the Starbucks Shaken Tea which is surprisingly strong but when shaken gets a cool little froth on top and its pretty yummy.  I forced myself to get iced tea when we went out to eat about 50% of the time and gradually I was able to order it more and more.  Many restaurants brew their own ice tea and its pretty good.  At some high end restaurants they charge you for each refill of soda but they may not for tea.  This past summer we went on a cruise where there was all you can drink iced  tea but you had to pay for every soda you drank.  I definitely saved money by not drinking soda on the trip.  Tea is really cheap to make at home or when you are traveling.  There are many restaurants and retailers that make awesome iced tea. Chik-fil-a makes great tea and even sells it in gallon jugs.  The Cheesecake Factory makes a really unique passion tea that makes for a good transition tea.  I won't drink the fountain Nestea, it just seems wrong and if I am going to drink chemical tea I may as well just drink a soda.  There are some good bottled brands of iced tea.  We like Honest Tea and Gold Peak.  It's really hard to find unsweetened Gold Peak tea though.  The Harris Teeter store brand is pretty yummy and actually has a unique flavor.  Lipton even has tea bags made especially for a cold iced tea brew!  These are a new product and we love them!

Courtesy of Chick-fil-a

Don't get me wrong I still drink an occasional soda but usually when I feel I  have really earned it and I only go for the fountain variety.  I am also very choosy about where I get it from.  They have to have the right syrup to water to carbonation mixture.  I don't want to waste the calories on a bad mix.  The places that usually do it right are chain sit down restaurants and chain fast food restaurants.  Gas stations are not usually as good. They tend to be heavy on the syrup and not enough carbonation and I need my bubbles!

So you want to make iced tea at home?  Well good news it's really easy!  Here is your step by step picture guide to iced tea making.

Fill pitcher with water.  I am using a Lock and Lock pitcher and my filtered water spigot

Lipton Cold Brew - new product and it is fabulous, we were weary at first but pleasantly surprised

Directions say 2 quarts is 2 bags for 3 minutes. Yay 0 calories!

Since this is a bigger container we are doing 4 bags for 6 minutes

The color is starting to come in. Give it a swish and stir before serving

Serve with ice and lemon! (Flash made this look very light)

But what about when you aren't at home?? While on a recent trip to Key West our hotel at the Doubletree has a coffeemaker, tea bags, and fridge so after paying for a few bottles of iced tea we decided to make our own!  Here are the steps to making your own iced tea in a hotel room!

Hotel room coffee maker

Earl Grey tea provided by the Doubletree

Notice two bags per cup. Make the tea super concentrated.

Let tea steep for at least 30 minutes to make it super concentrated

Place super concentrated tea in the fridge til you are ready

You also need a bucket of ice when you are actually ready to drink.

Get yourself a nice glass of ice

Add your super concentrated tea to the ice.
 Fill about half way depending on how strong you want your tea.

Fill the rest of the space with water

Use your provided coffee stir to mix it up or pour into another glass and pour back

Enjoy iced tea at your home away from home.
Hopefully you too will consider ditching your Coke habit.  Now when I choose to have one I enjoy it that much more!


  1. This was a great post Cindy! I have a similar addiction to coffee. I just can't get enough of the stuff.

  2. Yay tea! I also agree sweet tea is gross. Coffee - sure, sugar (ok, truvia cause I guess I'm a yuppie) and cream (ok fat free 1/2 and 1/2) me up, but tea: leave it be! Also, am I the friend who hates bubbles?? I'd be surprised if there are others as weird as me. First time I ever had more than a sip of soda it was after I graduated high school. And I probably only did it to get alcohol down. I went through like a 1/2 a semester diet-coke-with-lime phase in law school but that didn't last. (Oh, and for what it's worth, I heard about some study this year that says 5 or more cups - like, measuring cups - of coffee a day correlates with less likelihood to develop alzheimers.) - Katie

  3. Wow-- awesome post, seriously this is the best blog post I"ve read in a while---and I read A LOT of blogs like 20-30 a day.

    Very Clever Cindy and I loved all the pics.

  4. Great post! Loved the intro and the step-by-step guides. :) I'm on a diluted fruit juice kick at the moment, but I may have to try a switch to iced tea. Maybe when it warms up.