Saturday, March 3, 2012

From coffee addiction to green tea

I read from a book that it takes only two weeks to change a habit, any habit. The author got rid of her coffee addiction in two weeks, which was impressive.

Not impressed? Maybe I should mention that Finland is number one in coffee consumption per capita, 12 kg annually. (Norway is second but far behind: 9.9 kg.)

And this means that coffee is consumed in meetings, at lunch, during breaks at work, and so on. So it is quite hard to stop drinking coffee when you are used to it.

My daily average intake has been 2-4 cups of coffee for over 20 years, but that is little compared to the average Finn. Anyway, in January I decided to try drinking tea instead of coffee, because I noticed that my coffee consumption was increasing.

One contributing factor was that I had bought an infuser for brewing tea (I have now two of them), which is a convenient way of making fresh tea as long as you have hot water.

During workdays I now drink 4-6 cups of tea daily, and during weekends 2-4 cups. And this week was the first one when I haven't consumed a single cup of coffee. Last week I drank one cup.

Of course, I haven't completely escaped the coffee addiction. When I smell coffee, I get the craving, but coping with it is getting easier and easier.

However, long meetings pose a problem. Often the tea that is served is almost undrinkable. Either too hot water - at boiling point - has been used, or the tea has been brewing too long. (Another matter is that often the coffee isn't so good either, but when you have the habit, you drink it anyway.)

And I much prefer green tea, which is not so often available. So, at work I often go to meetings carrying a cup of green tea that I made myself.

Of course, you could think that I have just replaced an addiction with another. But I don't think green tea is anywhere comparable to coffee in terms of addiction.

Finally, something about photography. Mike Moats made a posting in which the title caught my eye: "Do you have the natural ability to see art in nature?"

My spontaneus reaction was: that is the wrong question. The right one is: "Do you have the ability to see nature?" At least it is so for me. I don't try to see art, I try to see what is there to be seen.

Today was a sunny day. But I didn't go skiing, as the doctor recommended not doing any exercise which makes you sweat as long as the flu is bothering. So I went walking instead.

And what was surprising was that it was warm when you were in the sunshine. A novel feeling after the long winter: sun isn't so low on the horizon any more.


Markus said...

Juha, maybe the question should be even shorter: "Do you have the ability to see?"

If yes, you will also see nature, I guess. But the question to see "art in nature" seems to be a bit contrived, and when I read the linked post, I couldn't help the feeling that this might be a post in favour of one's own business purposes. Asking a provoking question should always work in that sense.

But then, maybe I am wrong and his writup is good advice...

Cedric Canard said...

First, about coffee and green tea. I am a fan of both though surely not in the same quantitative manner that you indicate. I only have one coffee a day with the occasional short black after dinner. Whenever I have a good coffee I tune out and savour it fully. There is something exceptionally sensual about coffee. It's one reason I only have it once or twice a day. As for green tea, I tend to drink more of that but since where I live is a sub-tropical climate I tend to have it as iced tea. Not the bought stuff which is much too sweet. I usually use a 1.5L bottle in which I "brew" the tea overnight in the fridge. Yeah, probably not the best way to do it but it works for me. Before I drink it I mix in some lemon and lime juice and add some ice. Sometimes I'll add a chilli to add a bit of kick.

As for Mike Moats, there is no doubt that he has a good eye for photography. He can certainly see nature. But I don't agree with the premise of his post. I accept that technical expertise comes from repetitive work and practice but there is no amount of practice or process or method that will make you see art in nature or anything else for that matter. Art will reveal itself to whomever it wants as often or as rarely as it wants. I know that this view is not popular with a lot of people because it appears to remove the artist from the equation but that is incorrect. For me, when art reveals itself to someone it is first appreciated and then it is captured. The more skilled the artist the better the capture. That's where the hard work comes in. If the viewer has no creative skills then the art goes uncaptured and that's okay.

Because artists have the skills to capture art it is often believed that only artists can see art but I suspect a lot of people see art and only a few express it. But as always, I could be completely wrong ;)

Juha Haataja said...

@Markus and Cedric: Thanks for your thoughts in seeing and art. I got into thinking about it, and made a new posting about the topic of nature (and whether there is such a thing as nature).

@Cedric: What is interesting about the "good smell of coffee" is that children who haven't tasted coffee don't think the smell is good, at least it is so with ours. But when you have tasted it, some pathways in the brain are activated, and you get the anticipation of coffee just from smelling it.

In fact, coffee seems to be a really complicated thing. One or two months ago I read about some new research results (not yet fully conclusive) that indicate that when you drink 3-4 cups or more coffee daily, a new complex mechanism activates in the brain (this was studied with brain imaging), and you get a much bigger "reward" from drinking coffee.

Markus said...

Last thing first: I am really interested in that study about coffee! I have to admit that I do drink a lot of coffee - all black, no sugar, it resembles life so much that way - promising, motivating, but more bitter than overly sweet...

Second, I found Cedric's take on art very interesting. Certainly art can go by unnoticed, and often people feel a perfect moment, a perfect situation. Perhaps there also training comes in: From a slight feeling, just a tug on one of our synapses, to getting caught, to be able to momentarily immerse into the full appreciation of a situation there is a big bandwidth of reactions. And training one's sensitivity can help to more fully experience -- life, in the end.

Juha Haataja said...

@Markus: I tried to find the article I remember reading, but no luck. But I did find another study where two groups were studied, one with a low and one with a high daily coffee consumption.

This study gave a different result: "caffeine activates a few regions mainly involved in the control of vigilance, anxiety, and cardiovascular regulation, but does not affect areas involved in reinforcing and reward."

And the complexity of life, and of the human culture, is a rich and subtle thing to wonder about, plenty of space for art to be created from.

Cedric Canard said...

There are many studies done on coffee and I've read a few of them. The important thing to remember is to first see who paid for it. A few years ago a couple of studies came out that stipulated the benefits of coffee on the brain but they were all funded by companies that were in some way connected to the coffee industry. So their validity must be questioned. Similarly I saw a study that showed coffee to be bad for us but that study was funded by a company that had ties to the tea industry.

These days it's hard to know who to trust because there is always dollars involved somewhere. In the end I just try to listen to what my body tells me and I always have things in moderation.

Markus' point on training one's sensitivity is an interesting one. But I am not sure how much we can influence our sensitivity on a conscious level. Definitely something worth thinking about.

Juha Haataja said...

@Cedric: Indeed, big money seems to be involved with coffee. And there are a lot of sites on the net telling of the benefits of coffee or caffeine... I guess moderation is a good attitude always.

Anyway, not that I have been suffering from the flu it seems that tea helps to cope with the symptoms, and I'm drinking a lot of it daily.