The festivities are over but the chilly weather is still here, so what better excuse for buying something that will make you feel nice and warm on the inside? However, don't just automatically give in to the urge because you may just find that your caffeine levels skyrocket during the winter months. To help keep them down, here are some caffeine-free alternatives to fill your flask with.
It may sound like something exotic in the Western hemisphere but this roasted barley tea is a staple across Korea (bori cha), China (damai cha) and Japan (mugicha). If you've become accustomed to your coffee-chain vanilla lattes or frothy cappuccinos, this may be something of an adjustment for your taste buds, as it has a slightly bitter, nutty taste. The upside is that this drink allegedly has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. It can be bought in Asian food shops or you can make your own following this simple recipe http://www.mijorecipes.com/roasted-barley-tea-chinese-recipes/
Sticking with East Asia, this roasted corn tea is a popular hot drink in Korea that is naturally caffeine free. The roasted kernels of corn are boiled in water and the resulting drink is gluten free and naturally sweet, a real bonus if you are trying to cut down on your sugar intake too. It's also a good alternative if you find bori cha too bitter.
Lemon balm tea
Lemon balm belongs to the same plant family as mint and, in addition to being caffeine-free, has traditionally been used for its calming properties, aiding ailments such as digestion, upset stomachs, menstrual pain, anxiety and sleep problems. If you're feeling bloated after all that Christmas indulgence, then why not reach for a cup.
Nothing beats a cup of hot ginger when you have the chills and a runny nose, and it couldn't be simpler to make. Slice up some pieces of ginger and boil them in hot water. If you like your drinks sweet, add some honey and a touch of lemon, or for an even fuller flavour throw in some star anise and cardamom. Here's a simple recipe if you're not sure how.
Pumpkin spice drink
This one has a few more ingredients but it's easy to make if you have a blender to hand. The main ingredient is pumpkin puree (see how to make it here if your local supermarket doesn't stock it). The cream and sugar certainly make this a full-bodied drink and on the less healthy end of the spectrum, but it can hit the right note if you're craving the richness of your usual cup of coffee. Check out this recipe here