You can bond with America in many ways (even obesity) but when it comes to a cup of tea or coffee, Americans are beckoned by the caffeine free concept. In a couple of National Parks, caffeine-free coffee cafes are attracting huge audience. It was a delight to be in the Wright Brothers National Memorial Park in North Carolina and I enjoyed my first cup of caffeine-free coffee in a nearby cafe. These coffees are sold by highlighting the eco-friendly concept. For someone who belongs to the tea-fraternity and understands the entire production process in and out, I frowned on how tea can be without caffeine? The hilarious part was that my host in North Carolina - Pinaki Dutta, who by birth is Indian - claims that herbal tea is caffeine free.
Interestingly, "white coffee" is made from orange blossom water and uses less quantiy of coffee (but still I couldn't make out how it could be caffeine free). My initial indulgence with this so called caffeine free white coffee was after my long journey from the Luray Cavern and amidst the enticing coffee aromas in the snack bar. The evening couldn't have been planned better. Back to work in Washington D.C I missed my white coffee and was mesmerised in the meditation centre of hotel Hilton, which welcomes you with a nice cup of caffeine-free tea. A blend of American and Indian - some premium tea blends, Indian mediation and American branding – caffeine free! Sounds heavenly indeed!
But if I keep the debate of feasibility of caffeine-free tea & coffee aside, then certain caffeine-free hot drinks are overwhelming. Here are a few of my recommendations. Herbal Teas – made perfectly from hibiscus, mint or chamomile – are a delightful indulgence. Then caffeine-free coffee - Rooibos - is available in all departmental stores (some of them even sell with a Made in India tag). If you are guessing what is Rooibos, it's a naturally sweet, woody, tobacco flavoured beverage, making it a good alternative to coffee. I was also delighted to experience Ginger Honey Lemon Tea Tonic (as it uses extracts from tea), offered in Bern's & Noble book store and perfect for chilly rainy days, and particularly soothing for sore throats. While I personally cherished these varieties due to the novelty factor, the Americans seem quite hooked to the 'caffeine free' concept. As they say - different strokes for different folks!