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Friday, 19 October 2018


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How curious! I'm very prone to wake up rather early most days (around 3:30 AM) as well, and very often I've joked for ages about living under a constant 'low-intensity depression", but I've never linked both conditions.

At the age of 56 in the pursuit of an uninterrupted night's sleep I have decided to forego the 9PM coffee I have enjoyed since I was a boy. I now feel tired by 9.45PM and sleep no better. I'm thinking of going back on the bean.

I also "suffer" from EMAs, but I deal with it by going to bed around 8pm and then just being productive for a few hours before the rest of the world even wakes up. YMM, as they say, V.

L-Theanine is a compound found in tea that promotes a state of relaxed concentration which pairs well with the caffeine. I've taken to using it as a supplement, along with tea, and recommend it for alleviating anxiety and depression.

1. Medicine is an inexact science.
2. Everybody is different.
3. Whatever works for you.

Glad to see you've succeeded.

Does it have to be GREEN tea?

I don't drink coffee, but I have suffered of various sleep issues for more than a decade now.

I have also benefited from them, too. That's because I photograph mostly at night and not being able to sleep provides me with a lot of time to do so.

Although for a long time I wanted to "cure" myself of whatever ails my sleep, I'm not so sure about that now. I've really come to enjoy being awake in the middle of the night and especially the ability to go on photo outings several times a week. (My dog enjoys them, as well, because she often joins me on my outings. Except she thinks of them as long walks with occasional breaks to stand around and do nothing while she waits for me to take my photos.)

Still, I'm sure a good night's sleep every now and then would be an enjoyable experience, too. Sigh....

Hi Mike, my wife has a tea company here in Canada (your national security threat country (: ) You will enjoy the ritual of tea and the health benifits it brings. If you would like to share an address I will send you a sample of my favourite Genmachia, lovely and comforting any time of day. BTW I agree on the Fuji 23mm which with my XE3 is a perfect combo.

I just stick a tea bag in a cup of cold water and put it in the microwave for two minutes then remove the tea bag. Seems to work without buying fancy equipment. Use the K.I.S.S. method.

This may not apply to you at all, but it is sorta related, on the topic of caffeine. Caffeine has effects which are not merely short-term, like the effect you notice in a single day with regard to your sleep. Caffeine also has at least one long-term effect on brain chemistry, and this is interesting because you mentioned depression and apnea, two challenges we both share.

Don't know if you are also unlucky enough to suffer from migraine headaches, but I lost a full year of my life to them, as well as countless days and nights. The culprit, my headache specialist and I are convinced, was caffeine. Caffeine acts not only as a short-term stimulant, but in those susceptible, as a long-term activator of stimulatory feedback loops in the brain. It "primes", if you will, the midbrain to be migrainous, in other words it lowers the threshold needed to initiate a migraine.

This effect last for months(!) after ending chronic intake of caffeine. My daily migraines stopped about six months after I went cold turkey on caffeine. My brain had, essentially, finally returned to baseline, and was now responsive to prophylactic medication. Thank heavens.

Still a lot of mystery about this whole topic of brain activation and the troubles it can cause. If you do lower your caffeine intake, hopefully you may, after time, notice benefits you (and likely your doctor) were not expecting. :)

I for one have always loved coffee but when I started and when I stopped in a given day and grand total daily consumption often changed drastically - from starting early in morning drinking steadily beyond 3pm on 8 to 10 cups and finishing with one after dinner; to abstaining for 10 years straight; to now roasting my own and having one or two 6-8oz max cups ending before 10am. Whew! And yes, like you, too much of it affected my sleep but probably not to same degree.

I am also lucky in that normally I sleep rock solid straight for 6-7 hours but there are 3 things I've discovered that will either interrupt my sleep or shorten total time of sleep.

1) When I retire to bed: If too early like 9:30pm, I sleep less in total and wake up earlier and normally need to pee. Then falling back to sleep may not happen or takes a long time. If I wait and go to bed between 10:30 & 11:00, the night normally passes to day with me asleep.

2) Liquid consumption of any kind after 7:00pm: If I absolutely don't drink anything but maybe a sip of water after 7, my night is always better.

3) Amount of exercise: There are 2 distinct ways I tire - mental & physical. That sounds like a "duh" statement and needs explaining. The physical part is "real" physical - 1 to 3 hours or more of hard strenuous walking. As long as I have followed items 1 & 2 above the physical walking part is the killer and I have a rock solid sleep. But since I can't do this 3rd thing every day, I need to "obey" the first two religiously.

Best of luck with your experimentation and discovery of best set of preconditions for a sound sleep!

I've been a tea drinker from back whenever, nearly as long you were a coffee drinker. One thing i recently discovered was kombucha. One supposed benefit is that it can help loose weight. Since starting drinking kombucha (only last year), I have managed to loose a few pounds and keep them off (for what it's worth). I'd suggest starting with a ginger kombucha - it tastes nearly like a good ginger beer (e.g. bundaberg ginger beer from Australia, and is available at costco, among other places)

My Zeiss lenses are all T-coated.

Autosuggestion, Mike.

An equally infuriating situation arises when you find you have prostate problems as, apparently, nearly all males eventually have. This does not necessarily imply cancer, but does mean three or four out-of-bed events each night, where you pee just enough to convince yourself it wasn't a false alarm or simply wind, which also increases exponentially with your age numbers. Of course, after a few years of this, it could be autosuggestion or habit gets you out of bed rather than any real pressure of liquids and gasses.

The consolation prize is that you don't wet the bed, which would be far more inconveniencing than getting up for a sequence of relatively false alarms.

I suppose we could ascribe it to the human condition, the meltdown - or from another perspective, the seizing up of the separate bits that go to make up the whole of what we are.

I guess there's a reason none of us comes out with a written guarantee.


You might like to know that tea, for some people and for some reasons, has an anti-depressant effect too.

I like your description of the tea making technique. Somehow, it reminds me of film developing technique.

Dan K.

Not going to pretend that it tastes like coffee, but it's bitter and caffeine free and I've known herbalists to recommend it as a coffee replacement.


At teasource, my favorite is the organic clouds and mist. Freshly cut grass in a cup. Yum!!!

An excellent way to start the day. And mine eyes have seen the light.
Seems my parents and their families have partly learned the Indian/English way to brew, but then also attempt a second infusion (East Asia) after the leaves have been sitting in the bottom of the pot and gone all bitter.
To think of the years spent on bad tea. Oh the horror, the horror...

Maybe a hop pillow would work for you.

Don't forget a good RO (reverse osmosis) water filter, especially useful in the municipalities where lord know what's introduced into your water supply, and essential in rural areas with all the chemical run off from agriculture.

“Contrary to folk belief, you don't need less sleep as you age. You just get less sleep, and sleep more poorly, because of age.“

Mike, where’d you get your medical degree...the internet? I’m 10 years older than you; do sleep less just like my parents; but wake fully rested every morning and enjoy a fresh pot of Peet’s dark roast coffee. It’s probably your DNA :-)

Both yours and Tom Burke's ways are okay, but it's all getting too involved; simplicity is the key. Here's a five step programme:

1) Put the kettle on.
2) Drop a tea bag into the mug. Taylors of Harrogate's Yorkshire tea gives a nice bright tasting and refreshing drink.
3) When the kettle boils, poor the water into the mug.
4) Get the milk out of the fridge.
5) When the tea bag's been in for just a few minutes, pour in the milk and extract the teabag.

Just like developing film, adjust the time to suit your preferences. Keep the brewing time short for best results.

Have you tried blending your own half-calf? It’s still adulterated but you might find it to be good enough.

"I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee." ~Carly Simon

Mike: I suffer from what I call "EMA's"—early morning awakenings. No matter when I go to bed or what other protocols I follow, I would wake up spontaneously very early, like between 4:00 and 5:30 sometime; occasionally I could get back to sleep but usually not. It's usually believed to be a symptom of mild, chronic depression.

Mebbe. Mebbe not. Arguably, depending on how early you have fallen asleep and whether you have a second sleep period, this may be evolutionary-derived behavior that some societies altered to meet the economic demands of the industrial revolution. The Internet sources I've reviewed aren't definitive, but there does appear to be some consensus that this was releatively common pre-industrial behavior, and some other animals apparently experience this type of cycle. (Google "segmented sleep" and descend down the rabbit hole.)

You were a bit over the top about coffee a while back (grinding, especially) and now...

So, you just just switched to tea. Do you really think you need that pot to make green tea? Why not try just boiling some water, and making tea?


[What fun would that be? --Mike]

I have just the right solution for you: make your coffee (perhaps decaf?) using brewed green tea instead of water. Maybe you wouldn't even taste the tea, and you could avoid the EMA's and have your beloved coffee too. What could be better?

I love coffee, but a couple of years ago found that it was starting to bother my stomach. I decided to try a switch to tea, and went back to read all of Ctein's tea posts.

My original intent was to drink green tea, but I soon found that it was too "subtle" for me. After years of strong, black coffee I needed something more assertive. So I've had a lot of fun trying the different black teas from China and India, with the occasional Oolong to mix things up.

About 3 years after the switch I find it incredible that so much variety can be produced from the same leaf. My routine now is to drink black teas in the morning and green teas later in the day.

I've been using the the Cuisinart CPK-17 electric kettle which has the different temperature settings like your kettle.

I brew a pint of tea at a time to put in my 20 oz. Yeti Rambler, and use the bottom dispensing "IngenuiTEA" teapot. The Yeti keeps this hot for quite a while. (There's also a Yeti clone at Walmart that's just as good and about 1/3 the price -- they're both made in China, probably at the same factory, so what the heck..."

I also like Teasource and am sipping some of their "Houjicha" as I write this. It's a toasted green tea, which has a bit more body than a normal green. My favorite black tea from Teasource is the "China Black Special".

Local to me is Harney & Sons. They have a retail shop about 1/2 hour away in Millerton, NY. It's a fun way to spend a morning. Favorite black tea from Harney is "Golden Monkey" from Fujian province.

I also bought some tea from a site called "Teavivre". Sourced directly from China, the tea they deliver is VERY fresh and fragrant.

All in all I've enjoyed learning about tea and my stomach is thanking me. Ctein's posts were quite helpful as I was starting off, but I haven't yet acquired a taste for the Pu-erhs.

A propos of Tom Burke’s comment about British tea-making, and also a propos of getting to sleep, here’s a youtube with a lovely monotone voice instructing you on how to prepare the perfect English cuppa. However it’s an ASMR video. (Google it, it’s a whole subculture). The real purpose is to induce tingly relaxing feelings in the listener/viewer, for example, when trying to get back to sleep. A kind of guided meditation.
Good luck with green tea. Personally, I find it like drinking hot water. I prefer black tea, Russian style, with lemon, never milk.

I read the first half of Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker, the director of UC Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab (https://www.amazon.com/Why-We-Sleep-Unlocking-Dreams/dp/1501144324/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1540002592&sr=1-4&keywords=why+we+sleep) not long ago. (Only the first half because the electronic library checked it back in for me before I was done...) It's worth a read to get a better understanding of what's going on with sleep cycles, caffeine, etc.

For the last several years, I have gone out like a light when first going to bed, but wake up every two hours or so, and find it very difficult to go back to sleep. I don't drink significant amounts of coffee. But tea contains caffeine, I believe, and I drink a lot of that. I am 71. Whether age is a factor is hard to tell. I've never been a good sleeper. Alcohol in the evening is said to disrupt sleep patterns. I plead guilty.

Tea is vile (as is coffee) when it is not really, really hot.

It is best when very hot, very strong, and accompanied by three thick, toasted slices of white bread with large amounts of salted butter. Personally I prefer it without milk (unlike most of my compatriots), but that is a recent thing.

I have the emotional reaction against "fakes" that you talk about. I find it terribly annoying that perfectly ordinary versions of many products now bear labels I associate with fakes -- notably "no caffeine" (on say ginger ale, which never had any). I have to triple check and convince myself it's the real thing.

Your kettle seems to think black teas should be steeped considerably cooler than any other source I've encountered.

Camera owner becomes kettle owner.

I'm a T-totaller but the hi-tech discussion went clean over my head. However, the photos were smashing, especially the one with ol' Butters in it.

This is all very confusing to me. You complain of waking at 6:30 and praise sleeping until 9 am (taking your extremes I know) - the former seems normal to me and the latter too late. I would say you should go with the flow and rise when you wake and maybe go to bed earlier.
As mentioned by Rob Campbell, a lot of the comments sound like prostate problems — which I am all too familiar with :-( .
I see dandelion (aka piss-a-bed, pissenlit etc) tea has been recommended! Not sure that will have the desired effect ;-) .

Tea and coffee, in the end, come down to comfort drinking.

My wife used to buy packets of Black Prince and Twinings teas during our car trips back to the UK, and we'd bring those back to Spain along with the de rigueur box or two of wines bought en route in France. We got used to that blend (no, the wine was not used in conjunction with the tea). Habit.

Today, almost ten years after she died and thirteeen since I last visited Britain, I buy tea bags in the local supermarket. I do not use a teapot anymore. I put a single teabag into the mug, pour in boiling water and almost instantly withdraw the bag and place it on a saucer using a pair of silver sugar tongs, relic of polite days and sugar cubes. I never add milk or sugar anymore.

The tea tastes normal for tea, and reminds me of distant days spent as a child on a friend's tea plantation in the Nilgiris in southern India. If memory serves, the dust that I believe resides within teabags was dumped as garbage. But it's what has become the norm. Again, habit. And wisely efficient marketing.

With some Italian blood taking up space in my veins, I am very given to all things Italian except Fiat and Alfa, both having cost me money spent on misplaced sentiment. However, the little aluminium coffee makers were favourites for many years, right until we discarded all our Al cooking utensils because of the ill effects of that material getting into the food and, consequently, into us. Replaced by a stainless steel version, the coffee didn't taste the same (psychology at work, no doubt) but we persevered.

Today, I buy jars of Nescafé Classic (de-caffed), put a teaspoonful of the powder into the mug, add a little milk (before the boiling water - that's as important as shaking and not stirring is elsewhere) and it tastes perfectly fine. It tastes just as reasonable when it gets cold, as it invariably does when I have a mug during my Internet voyages.

In the final analysis, it is all a matter of habit and adapting to circumstances.

I also have the same EMA issue. 4am is my witching hour. Interested whether you restrict the times you take your tea? I have heard that tea contains caffeine as well.

OSA and CPAP are a fact of my life. I was diagnosed in 2005 and have been a much happier person ever since. My experience with cpap therapy has gotten better over time as the machines have improved but I still find that after about six hours I need to remove the mask for a while. My 4 am awakening. About 30 minutes later I usually sleep until 6:30.

Love the look and features of the kettle. An ideal spout for pour over coffee to and blooming (de-gassing co2) which makes for a much sweeter cup. I notice a preset for that as well. So GAS for de-gassing.

Not sleeping well sucks. Whatever works is the best solution. I would humbly suggest you find some daily, mind numbing (or Zen-like if you prefer) physical activity to add to the plan. Like cutting and splitting firewood. Work up to it, but eventually add a level of physical exhaustion to the daily mix. If you do it well enough, nothing will keep you awake.

Maybe of interest re. waking up during the night;

In my years of working on energy projects in developing countries, I found the perfect cuppa at the Sri Lanka Tire Company outside of Columbo. Tea (local Sri Lankan variety loose or bag) in a teapot, fill it with boiling water right out of the boiler. Let it stew for a while. Pour into mug that has never been washed. Add condensed milk from a can and then sugar. You will know it is perfect if the teaspoon stands up on its own. Seriously.

One thing I've learned since recovering from two MCI's, CABG surgery, and living with AFIB is that caffeine is not your friend; my consumption of coffee is limited to one cup in the morning. I've found that the best recipe for sleep is exercise, not just a walk but vigorous heart raising, sweat inducing exercise for at least 40 minutes. I get up at 4:30 am three times a week and head for the gym to ride a stationary bike in spin class and by 9:30pm I'm falling asleep. try it for a month.

I'm not afflicted with waking up early, but too much caffeine will keep me up all night. Here's what works for me: one cup of good (!) coffee first thing in the morning (I'd guesstimate around a 10 oz cup) and one cup of high-quality loose-leaf tea between 2 and 4. I also use Heath mugs that I adore, that make the coffee and tea that much more enjoyable. Coffee and tea time are rituals for me.

I love all teas, but I'm transitioning to mostly green tea for other health reasons. The kind of tea does not seem to matter to my physiology in terms of caffeine, as long as it is before 4 PM.

I cannot drink coffee after noon, or it will absolutely keep me up all night. There is not that much difference in caffeine in coffee and tea and I'm not sure why coffee has such a strong impact after noon whereas tea doesn't.

My dad can drink multiple espressos after dinner and sleep like a baby. Weird. I've hear that people's bodies process caffeine at different rates.

Bruce, you teaspoon test reminds me of the test for the perfect 10.



I second the l-theanine supplement suggestion -- I've found that it improves the **quality** of sleep markedly, as well as quantity.

It's also cheap, and non-stimulant in my experience, so you can take it at bedtime. Try it out -- you may be able to have your coffee and sleep in too!

It's kind of funny that gooseneck kettles and Japanese glass teapots are popular around the hipster crowd here, so you went straight from the old school big cup of coffee in the morning to Japanese-style tea brewing.

On a more practical note, I prefer to use the same method as you, a strainer directly on the cup, when I'm making a single or two cups for myself (though I use Chinese style strainers and tea). For larger amounts I prefer porcelain teapots since they are more durable than glass and there are many good looking ones available. The far east offer a wide variety of teas to try out, I suggest starting with the various green teas and Oolong.

Also, don't let the English talk you into what they call tea, it will just make you long for coffee. The far east is where the quality teas are to be found.

As Oskar remarks, glass (especially if left transparent), does not the perfect receptacle for tea and especially not for teabags make, taking on a disgusting appearance suggestive of toilet bowls and contents, were those bowls transparent which, wisely, they generally are not.

The English of half-a-century ago did know about making a brew; however, since the introduction of those easy-eats, easy-drinks outlets of US origin, the truth has been lost in obfuscation, hype and convenience marketing at substantially inflated pricing that forbids questioning by the ultra hip, out of fear that their street-cred be seen to be in the slightest of doubt. A couple of quid for a plastic container of slop has to be good value, dunnit?

As for why anyone would feel compelled to meander down the street sucking from such or, worse, driving whilst drinking from a thing like that (possibly at least as dangerous as using a cellphone whilst driving) must forever remain one of life's inexplicables.


Peppermint tea. No caffeine.

Apparently, you don’t need a kettle for a good cup of tea. In June 1940, my father’s unit was “required” to take a slow train journey, from northern France to Marseille. He was convinced, later, the best tea he ever had was made with the steam from the locomotive’s injectors!

Throughout the 1950s, a cup of “Sergeant Major’s” was our essential evening beverage.

Mike, perhaps you are a Medieval sleeper?

“A. Roger Ekirch, author of At Day’s Close: A History of Nighttime, argues that biphasics or ‘medieval sleepers’ get closer to nature’s intention than the sleep we aspire to today (those precious eight uninterrupted hours).‘For thousands of years until the industrial age, humans slept twice,’ Ekirch says. ‘A deeper first sleep from sunset until around 2am, followed by an interval of wakefulness, usually lasting an hour, then a lighter second sleep until around 6am, or later in the winter.’


At some point in the past I had to give up caffeine entirely for two weeks (by mistake, not design). The first day was hard but after that I had no issues. And those have been the best two weeks (in terms of rest) of my last 10 years. I immediately went back to caffeine (coffee and tea) when we went back to civilisation -- it has neuro protective effects! -- but if you want to give it up altogether I thing you will see your rest and general energy improves a lot. I actually do miss how rested and well I felt in those two weeks.

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