Caffeine in Tea vs Coffee: What’s the Difference?

Tea and coffee’s relationship poses a common question: if they both have caffeine, then what is the difference? To put it simply, a lot.

Caffeine is a natural drug that acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system and the brain to help the body stay alert and prevent fatigue. This stimulant is found in a variety of products/resources like in the leaves and fruits of certain plants, soft drinks, chocolates, and medications; however, the most well-known form of caffeine is in tea and coffee. 

Common sayings like “not before mommy has her coffee” and “I love days when my only problem is deciding on tea or coffee” that are broadcasted all over social media assist in showing the world’s obsession with caffeine. But, which caffeinated beverage is better, tea or coffee?

We wouldn’t go as far as to say whether or not one is better than the other because different bodies have different needs, so for you, tea might be better than coffee but for someone else coffee might be better than tea. In order to help you figure out which source of caffeine is more beneficial for you, this blog will share the differences, benefits, and disadvantages between tea and coffee. 

In comparing the caffeine contents between tea leaves and coffee beans, you will find that tea leaves actually contain more, 3.5%,  than coffee beans, 1.1-2.2%. However, depending on the water temperature used to prepare the drinks the caffeine content in the actual beverage can differ. The hotter the water, generally, the more caffeine is extracted from the leaves or the beans. But, it is important to note that certain tea leaves can only withstand a certain heat before burning. Also, it might be important to note that in making coffee, usually there is a higher amount of coffee beans used than the amount of leaves to make tea. This could affect the caffeine content as well.

Black teas are known to have a higher caffeine content than white and green teas as they are oxidized and brewed at a higher temperature, thus, extracting more caffeine. On the other hand, it is commonly thought that dark roast coffees have a higher caffeine content than light roast coffees. But, caffeine isn’t really affected by the roasting process so this belief is doubtful. Espresso is a type of coffee that would be suggested for a person who wants a quick dose of caffeine as it contains a very concentrated source of it.

While it is true that the hotter the water, the more caffeine will be extracted, cold brew coffee offers an alternative method to increasing caffeine content in coffee. To create a cold brew, it is recommended to soak ground coffee beans in cold water for up to 24 hours. This excessive amount of soaking and the fact that you will have to use almost double the amount of coffee grounds used to make a normally brewed cup, will result in a higher caffeine concentration. It is important, also, to be cognizant of the disadvantages of consuming caffeine. When your intake is in moderation, caffeine is a great thing, but if partaken too frequently or not balanced with the correct amount of food, it can lead to migraines and other inconvenient affects. 

With all of this knowledge, which beverage should you drink, coffee or tea? At the end of the day, if you are looking for a quick energy increase, go for coffee as the caffeine tends to take effect about 20 minutes to an hour after consumption, which is a faster rate than tea. If you are very sensitive to caffeine, try green or white tea with attention to how it is brewed. In the end, both tea and coffee are great sources of caffeine and both can be advantageous to you depending on what type or amount of caffeine you would like to consume. Pay close attention to the preparation of the drinks to gage just how much caffeine you would like to include, and with practice you can find just the right amount for your body.

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