How I quit tea completely after 35 years

I was an avid tea lover. With 5-6 cups of tea every day, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that I was addicted to tea. And why wouldn’t I be? I come from Assam, which is the largest producer of tea in India. Tea is not just a drink here; it is a part of our culture. I had been drinking tea since I was 2 years old. Still, after 35 years of drinking tea, at the age of 37, I quit tea completely. Read on to learn why and how I quit drinking tea. And in case you want to quit too, you might get some inspiration from me.

How the idea originated

The year was 2021. I was working at a bank in Bengaluru then. I worked in the back office of trade finance operations of a private sector bank. The work was hectic — I had to work about 13 to 14 hours every single day. The sedentary lifestyle had taken a toll on my health. I was overweight, and I had no time to exercise. My dinner timings were horrible. Sometimes I would have my dinner as late as 1 am. On top of that, I used to have multiple cups of tea throughout the day. There was a small tea stall right outside our office building. And whenever I was stressed at work, I would go downstairs, visit the tea stall, and find solace in a cup of tea. And I had this habit of mine that I wouldn’t just drink the cup of tea alone. The cup of tea would be accompanied by either a samosa/kachori or biscuits.

All those cups of tea that I drank at the tea stall near my office were very high in sugar. I started to get worried about getting diabetes if I continued to live my existing lifestyle. So a faint idea came to my mind that it would be better if I stopped drinking tea. Because if I stopped drinking tea, my intake of sugar would be reduced. Also, I would consume fewer calories by not eating the biscuits and samosa/kachori that I usually had with my cup of tea.

The turning point

Even though the idea of quitting tea came to my mind, I didn’t have the courage to think beyond that. How could I quit something which I had been having for the last 35 years? I couldn’t move out of my house in the morning without having my cup of tea. On holidays, I didn’t feel fresh after an afternoon nap until I had a cup of tea. If I didn’t get my cup of tea at my regular times, I would get a headache.

However, something very important happened in the month of July 2021. It was a day when I deviated from my normal routine. Normally, I used to bring lunch from home. But on this particular day, I did not bring my lunch and so I decided to order chicken biryani through an online app. I used to have my lunch around 12:30 p.m. every day, and on that day, I also had my chicken biryani at the same time. It was a very nice and heavy meal. After my lunch, I got busy with my work, and to my utter surprise, the thought of having a cup of tea did not cross my mind until 6:00 p.m. On other days, I would have already sipped two cups of tea in the period between my lunch and 6:00 p.m.

It was a very unusual thing, and the break from the established pattern left me pondering. Why did I not feel the need for tea that day? The answer seemed to lie in the heavy lunch that I had on that day. The chicken biryani had kept me full and satiated for an extended period.

As I reflected on this anomaly, a realization dawned on me. Perhaps it was hunger that was the reason behind my daily rush for tea and snacks. If the absence of hunger eliminated the desire for tea, then why not address the hunger itself with a healthier alternative?

How I planned to quit tea

In the next few days, I started to think seriously about quitting tea completely. As I observed closely, the connection between my habit and the emotional aspects of drinking tea became evident. It wasn’t merely about the drink itself; it was about the routine, the comfort, and the association of tea with moments of solace and relaxation. So, I had to accept the reality that breaking free from the grasp of tea would not be easy. It was a habit so deeply ingrained in me that it was impossible to think of life without tea. As I thought about the journey ahead, two compelling reasons fueled my determination to quit tea:

The first reason was the one I have already mentioned, which was my desire to reduce sugar intake and consequently reduce my calorie consumption.

The second reason was a desire to reduce dependency on tea and to break the addiction to it. Tea can indeed be addictive because it contains caffeine. Whenever I had a headache, I used to drink tea to get some relief. Surprisingly, I also got headaches whenever I missed a scheduled cup of tea. Since quitting tea cold turkey seemed impractical, I devised a strategy to reduce one cup at a time. Here were my usual tea timings:

  • 7:30 am  (with breakfast at home)
  • 11:00 am (before lunch)
  • 2:00 pm  (post lunch)
  • 5:00 pm   
  • 7:00 pm
  • 9:00 pm  (before dinner)

I decided to start by eliminating my 9:00 p.m. cup of tea. For the next 7 days, I committed myself to this adjustment. I was successful in doing that, and I drank only 5 cups of tea in those 7 days. In the next 7 days that followed, I eliminated the 7:00 p.m. cup of tea. Again, I was successful in doing that and I drank only four cups of tea in those 7 days. This gradual reduction of tea continued until only the morning cup remained. Over a period of 5 weeks, I had eliminated five cups of tea.

Of course, it wasn’t all that easy. I had to use my willpower a lot. It was difficult to resist the temptation of tea when I visited the tea stall near our office with my colleagues. Also, whenever I got stressed at work, I had a severe urge to go downstairs and sip a cup of tea. In such situations, I took a break from work, went outside, and had a walk around my office building. Sometimes I would also have a glass of warm water. Somehow, I sailed through those 5 weeks without failure.

August 11th, 2021, was the first day on which I drank only one cup of tea: the morning cup along with breakfast. I decided that this phase would last for a month, during which I would mentally prepare myself for the final act of quitting. I also decided that September 11th, 2021, would be the day on which I would stop drinking tea.

During those 30 days, I focused not only on the physical adjustment but also on mental preparedness. This gradual approach wasn’t just about reducing tea intake; it was about building a mindset of determination. I was getting ready for a life without tea.

My last cup of tea

September 10, 2021, was the day I drank my last cup of tea. I sat down for breakfast with my cup of tea. There were rice pancakes for breakfast. It was an emotional moment for me, but I stood strong and determined by thinking about the healthier lifestyle that awaited me. I never doubted my decision, which had already been made. I relished my cup of tea for the last time and bid goodbye to a habit of 35 years.

The first few days after quitting tea

Even though I had stopped drinking the 5 cups of tea excluding the one with breakfast, my body was still getting a dose of caffeine every morning. So mentally, I felt a bit comfortable. I felt as if it was not over yet, it was still there.

However, after I quit my last cup of tea, the first 7-10 days were very difficult. The only dose of caffeine had also stopped. In the morning for breakfast, I ate whatever was prepared, but without the cup of tea. It felt very awkward. I was so used to eating along with a hot cup of tea.

In the afternoon, I got headaches and felt low on energy. But since I was very determined to make my attempt successful, I resisted every urge to have tea. And as the days progressed, it started to get easier. The initial days without caffeine were challenging, but perseverance paid off.

One month after quitting tea

About a month after quitting tea, I became comfortable with my new habit. The headaches disappeared. I started feeling fresh in the morning even without having tea. The desire to have tea during office hours also faded away. Now, I would just have a snack in the evening without a cup of tea.

Two months after quitting tea, I traveled by bus from Bengaluru to Mysuru. On that day, I had a very irresistible urge to drink a cup of tea. By then, I had gotten used to not drinking tea in my usual setup of home and office. But this situation was new to me. Whenever I had traveled earlier by bus, I used to have tea after the journey ended and even during the journey if there was a longer halt. It made me feel fresh. I had to use my willpower again that day to survive without tea.

Almost 3 years after quitting tea

Today, it has been almost 3 years since I drank my last cup of tea. Ever since I stopped drinking tea, I haven’t drunk even a drop of it. I am really proud of this achievement. I feel I could succeed because I had taken time to get mentally ready for the change. Once your mind is ready, the body follows suit. Now, I never feel any urge to have tea, even if a room full of people is having tea in front of me. I feel fresher than ever even without tea. I have experienced an increase in focus, better sleep, and fewer headaches after quitting tea.


Quitting tea is difficult especially if you are addicted to it. But it is not an impossible task. For this, you have to get mentally ready first. It is like forming a new habit. Initially you will have to use your willpower but eventually habit will take over. If you want to know how to build a good habit and break a bad one, I would suggest you read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book has helped me a lot in my journey of quitting tea as well as in shaping many other good habits.

Click here to check out ‘Atomic Habits‘ on Amazon.

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