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Coffee or tea? Let’s settle it once and for all, shall we? As the top two go-to beverages in the world, both tea and coffee have their pros and cons. In this article, we are going to discuss the differences between the two in terms of their caffeine content, chemical composition, and processing. We will also be discussing the potential benefits of each.
Let’s get started.
Both tea and coffee have had an eventful journey over the centuries. Tea was discovered in 2737 BC by Shen Nong— a Chinese ruler— when a tea leaf fell into his boiling water. The history of coffee is comparatively obscure.
It is believed that the cultivation of coffee began in 647 A.D. in Arabia (near the Red Sea). The plant was first discovered by a Yemeni shepherd Kaldi who noticed the stimulatory effects of the plant on his sheep. He informed the local scholars about the plant that initially brewed a ‘tea’ using coffee berries.
The effects of this tea were milder in comparison to actual coffee. Coffee was discovered later on— when the coffee bean was identified as the source of the stimulant present in the plant.
There are several major differences between coffee and tea. These include:
There is a significant difference in the caffeine content for a cup of coffee and a cup of black tea. The former contains 125 to 185 mg of caffeine per cup. The latter, on the other hand, contains 55 mg of caffeine per cup.
The caffeine content also varies according to the type of tea. Green tea contains about 18 mg of caffeine, while oolong tea contains approximately 37 mg of caffeine.
The stimulatory effects of these two beverages are also slightly different. Coffee drinkers will experience the effects of caffeine almost immediately. Its rate of absorption in the bloodstream is fast.
On the other hand, the caffeine in black tea takes a little longer to enter the bloodstream. The stimulatory effects of white tea are even slower than black tea.
Tea contains Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Tannin, Catechin, Natural fluorine, caffeine, and a variety of polysaccharides. Coffee, on the other hand, contains phenolic acid, carbohydrates, amino acids, minerals, caffeine, chlorogenic acid, trigonelline, organic acids, ketones, aldehydes, esters, mercaptans, and amines.
Unlike coffee, tea also contains stimulants besides caffeine. These include Theobromine, Theophylline, and L-theanine.
All these compounds stimulate the body in different ways. L-theanine, for example, can increase the production of alpha waves in your brain. Studies suggest that when L-theanine works in combination with caffeine, it can improve brain function.
Both coffee and tea are processed and produced differently. Coffee plants are cultivated as Coffee Arabica and Coffee Robusta. The former is more popular. The beans are picked by hand and sorted according to their color and ripeness.
The flesh of the coffee berry is then removed, and it is fermented to get rid of the mucilage layer. Post fermentation, the beans are washed, dried, and then roasted. Coffee is also brewed in many different ways, such as espresso or drip coffee just to mention a few.
Tea is grown as the small-leaved China tea and the large-leaved Assam tea. The leaves are plucked and sent to a factory for further processing. The terminal bud, shoot, and adjacent leaves are then plucked.
After this, the tea leaves are withered, fermented, rolled, and dried. They are then sorted for sale.
There are several health benefits of including tea and coffee in your diet. These include:
Both tea and coffee can end up staining your teeth. However, they are also very beneficial for your teeth and gum health in different ways. As per a study conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry, black tea is non-erosive.
It does not damage your tooth enamel like other beverages. Other studies suggest that it can reduce tooth decay and cavities as it reduces bacterial growth.
It also prevents plaque formation. Black tea also contains 0.2 – 0.5 milligrams of fluoride per cup. This can act against bacteria and improve your oral health.
Black tea also has antioxidants. These prevent the buildup of plaque and keep your breath fresh. Coffee, on the other hand, contains polyphenols. These can prevent plaque formation.
As mentioned earlier, tea contains antioxidants such as polyphenols and phytochemicals. These are beneficial for the immune system. They have anti-inflammatory effects and can help fight against chronic disease.
Tea also has a high oxygen radical absorbance capacity. This can help decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer, and neurological disorders. Black tea also contains TF-2 and catechins. These can kill cancerous cells.
Coffee also contains polyphenols. It also has hydrocinnamic acids. These antioxidants can neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. The antioxidative properties of coffee can protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
For instance, adding coffee to your diet was found to improve short-term recall in the elderly. It was also said to improve reaction times. Additionally, the antioxidants in coffee prevent eye problems and strokes and can act against cancer.
Unlike white tea, black tea does not contain any sugar and has zero calories. This can help control your cholesterol levels. It also regulates your blood sugar and lowers your obesity levels. The antioxidants in black tea and coffee also boost the body’s metabolism. This can help in weight management.
Coffee, on the other hand, can act as an appetite suppressant. This can help in reducing food cravings and help you lose weight by having a healthier diet. Coffee also burns calories through thermogenesis, i.e., it burns calories by generating body heat.
Coffee and tea have proven to help reduce the risk of diabetes. As mentioned earlier, adding black tea to your diet can regulate your blood sugar levels. This can reduce the risk of diabetes. According to a study, people who drank more than one cup of tea daily had a 70 percent less chance of developing diabetes type I.
As per another study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, people who consumed one or more cup of coffee had an 11 percent less chance of developing diabetes types II. The study also found that people who decreased their coffee intake were at a higher risk of developing diabetes (a 17 percent increase was estimated).
Including tea in your diet is good for the heart. Black tea contains flavonoids that can reduce the formation of blood clots. They can also improve the function of your blood vessels, which strengthens your cardiovascular system.
A person who drinks three cups of black tea in a day has a 21 percent less chance of suffering from a stroke.
Drinking black tea also reduces the production of cortisol. This hormone induces stress. Green tea has also been shown to benefit men. Drinking 10 cups of green tea daily can reduce the chances of liver disorders. Green tea has also been shown to prevent lung cancer.
Coffee contains a higher amount of caffeine and can be beneficial for people who have asthma. This is because its stimulatory effects help relax your lung’s airways. The caffeine content in coffee can also reduce migraines by constricting the blood vessels in your brain.
Caffeine has been associated with elevated levels of anxiety, insomnia, nausea, restlessness, heart palpitations, and tachycardia. A high caffeine intake also leads to the production of histamine. This, in turn, stimulates the production of gastric juices, which can lead to heartburn.
Coffee also acts as a diuretic and flushes vital nutrients out of your body. Therefore, you must try and stay hydrated after consuming more than 1 cup. You must also make sure your body is receiving all the nutrients it requires.
Consuming too many cups of unfiltered coffee can increase your LDL (bad cholesterol). The fluoride in tea can also cause Osteofluorosis and make your bones brittle. Pregnant women are advised against drinking coffee.
Drinking more than 10 cups of coffee daily can increase the chance of stillbirths. It also increases nervousness and restlessness in babies. Some coffee recipes also contain traces of lead and other harmful substances, so where you get your coffee from is very important.
On the whole, consuming high amounts of coffee and tea can be detrimental for your mental and physical health. Ultimately, whether you choose to drink coffee or tea, the heavy cream and sugar you add to these beverages makes them unhealthy.
Instead of wondering which beverage is better, you should avoid these unhealthy additions and enjoy the benefits of these drinks. You can also experiment with tea and coffee recipes that don’t involve too much sugar and cream but have a great taste.
Both black tea and coffee have their pros and cons. Coffee contains a higher amount of caffeine than black tea and is the best choice for those who need a high dose of caffeine in the morning to wake up. Coffee is also more fast-acting than black tea.
There are several health benefits associated with these beverages. They can help in:
However, these beverages have their share of unhealthy side-effects as well, and we suggest you add less sugar and cream to your drinks to avoid them. It should also be noted that black tea is more beneficial than white tea.