I’ve always been a semi-morning person. By “semi-morning” I mean that once I’m out of bed, I’m up. But getting me out of bed and actually up can be an ordeal. It’s not abnormal for my snooze button to be hit five or so times. Actually, several times once my snooze button was smacked a whopping twelve times, once every five minutes for an hour.

But again, usually once I’m up, I’m up … I have energy, have no problem getting ready (the fact that I can’t pick out an outfit has nothing to do with not being awake and more about needing a new wardrobe), and am usually lucid enough to make a lunch and still be out the door by 7am. Driving 45 minutes to work sort of requires keeping my eyes open, so being awake usually isn’t the issue.

The issue comes when I climb the stairs to my work cube. As I ascend the flight, my mind kicks in and I begin to remember all the things I need to get done and frankly, it makes me tired. So I sit at my desk, boot up my Mac and my body is saying, “no, why don’t you just go back to bed and resume what you were doing at 5am this morning … yeah, go back to sleep.”

Only recently, my body has been rebelling against anything to do with the morning. It doesn’t help that it’s been dark and pouring rain almost every morning the last few weeks. So, needless to say, when I finally get to work, my body is already tired. Never being one to rely on caffeine in the morning, I’ve had to find a way to give me the extra punch I need to get my brain in work mode.

Not being a coffee drinker or a soda drinker (especially at 7:30 in the morning), I’ve had to rely on teas. Black teas. Irish Black Teas. Anyone that knows me at all shouldn’t be surprised that I picked up an Irish tea to try (my love for Ireland even transcends to my drink choices, although I haven’t been able to stomach more than a sip of Guinness … don’t worry, it’s a goal of mine to drink a pint someday). The tea I have is strong, bitter, and delicious. I like Stash Tea’s Super Irish Breakfast Black Tea, also known as the “espresso of teas.”

If you’re not a tea drinker (or a black tea drinker), I recommend starting with the Shaken Black Tea Lemonade (unsweetened) from Starbucks. That’s really the only thing I buy at Starbucks, since coffee has no appeal and their hot chocolate leaves a lot to be desired. The sweetness of the lemonade balances out the bitterness of the black tea but leaves just enough of the flavor to know that it’s there. Getting it unsweetened allows you to taste the tea as more of an after note than the dominant flavor.

This drink was the “starter drug” if you will to my tea journey. By getting used to the bitter aftertaste of the black tea lemonade, I have been able to withstand a barrage of teas—all unsweetened—on my taste buds. A favorite I stumbled upon is is rooibos (roy-boss; Afrikaans for “red bush”)—a South African red tea that’s full of antioxidants and caffeine-free, so usually something I drink to warm me up before bed. The fruit flavored teas are good as well, having tried strawberry, mango and peach.

Teas have opened up a world to me—a world that requires caffeine to get started. Something I never understood about coffee drinkers is how they couldn’t function without it and while, by no means have I become a tea addict or to the point where I need to drink it every morning, I’m beginning to understand what caffeine can do to a person in the morning. It can get you through those moments when you sit at your desk, stare at your computer and ponder, what am I supposed to get done today?