Caffeine’s popularity in stimulating the mind and body is unmatched. It’s loved for its natural stimulating properties. Caffeine is found in at least 60 different plant species. It’s enjoyed throughout the world, especially beverages such as tea, chocolate, and coffee.
The amount of caffeine in a specific beverage varies based on the preparation method and ingredients used. Although caffeine is generally safe, consuming too much of it may cause health concerns.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the amount of caffeine in different types of coffees and teas. The article also compares coffee and tea and advises on the beverage to drink between the two.
Why Caffeine Is Viewed As a Health Concern
It’s estimated that 80 percent of people in the world take a caffeinated drink daily. Major bodies that set food standards define safe caffeine consumption as a maximum of 400 milligrams per day, 3 milligrams per kilogram (1.4 milligrams per pound) of an individual’s weight, and 200 milligrams per dosage.
Caffeine has potent stimulating effects, making it beneficial in many ways including elevated mood, enhanced alertness, increased metabolism, and enhanced athletic performance.
However, consuming excessive amounts of caffeine, such as a single of over 500 milligrams, may raise serious health issues. When consumed excessively, caffeine is linked to insomnia, restlessness, and anxiety. Some studies argue that taking caffeine regularly, even when taking it in moderated amounts, may cause chronic migraines and headaches.
Besides, caffeine is believed to be mildly addictive. Some individuals may develop caffeine dependence when they consume it regularly.
Caffeine Content in Different Beverages
The caffeine content in a beverage varies based on the type of beverage and how the beverage was prepared. For instance, the caffeine content in coffee and tea varies significantly based on the beverage’s type, origin, and preparation method.
Tea leaves have a caffeine content of about 3.5 percent whereas coffee beans contain between 1.1 to 2.2 percent caffeine. Generally, most coffee brewing methods use hotter water to extract caffeine from coffee beans than tea making, thereby extracting more caffeine from coffee beans. Also, brewing coffee requires using more beans than the amount of tea leaves used in making tea. As a result, brewed coffee contains a higher caffeine content than tea in a similar serving.
Types of Coffee and Their Caffeine Content
On average, a 237 ml (8-ounce) serving of coffee has a caffeine content of 95 milligrams. Most people assume that coffee brewed with darker roasts has more caffeine content than coffee brewed with lighter roasts. However, this assumption isn’t always true since caffeine content isn’t affected significantly by roasting.
Since darker roasts make less dense brews than lighter roasts, you’ll need more grounds to brew coffee with darker roasts, thereby resulting in more caffeine content per serving.
Espresso brews have been found to contain a higher concentration of caffeine than other coffee brews. For instance, a single shot of Starbucks espresso contains 58 milligrams of caffeine in a 30 ml (1-ounce) serving. Most specialty coffees, such as cappuccinos and lattes, which are made using double espresso shots contain 116 milligrams of caffeine.
When comparing different decaffeinated drinks, decaf espresso appears to have higher caffeine content. Decaf espresso contains 3 to 16 milligrams of caffeine per 437 ml (16-ounce) serving. On the other hand, decaf coffee contains about 3 milligrams of caffeine per 237 ml (8-ounce) serving. Decaffeinated teas have a caffeine content that falls in between that of decaf coffee and decaf espresso.
The Effect of Coffee Preparation Methods on Caffeine Content
When preparing coffee and tea with hot water, a higher water temperature and a longer brewing or steeping time result in more caffeine extraction from coffee beans and tea leaves respectively. Essentially, coffee is brewed at a higher temperature than tea. Thus, coffee brewing extracts a higher amount of caffeine than tea brewing.
Coffee can also be made from cold water to form a coffee known as cold brew. When making cold brew, ground coffee is soaked in cold water for about 8 to 24 hours. The water must be filtered for the best results. In this method, you brew with 1.5 times the amount of ground coffee used in brewing coffee with hot water. Consequently, cold brew often contains a higher amount of caffeine than hot coffee.
Types of Tea and Their Caffeine Content
Teas come in different varieties including white, green, and black teas. They’re all prepared using tea leaves from a plant known as Camellia sinensis. Their only difference is the harvesting time and oxidation level of the tea leaves.
Black tea is prepared from oxidized tea leaves. Green and white tea leaves aren’t oxidized. Oxidizing tea leaves to make black tea gives the drink a sharp and bold flavor. Also, oxidation increases the infusion of caffeine from tea leaves with hot water.
On average, black tea in a serving of 237 ml contains between 47 to 90 milligrams of caffeine. On the other hand, a similar serving of green tea contains 20 to 45 milligrams of caffeine while white tea contains 6 to 60 milligrams of caffeine.
Matcha tea, a form of green tea, contains a high amount of caffeine. It’s available in a powdered form, with 1-gram (half teaspoon) of Matcha containing 35 milligrams of caffeine.
Yerba mate, which is a type of herbal tea native to South America, is prepared by steeping leaves and twigs of a plant known as llex paraguariensis. A 237 ml serving of yerba mate contains 85 milligrams of caffeine.
It’s worth noting that although most herbal teas have a caffeine-free label, they’re not entirely free of caffeine. A mug of herbal tea may contain about 12 milligrams of caffeine. However, such an amount of caffeine is quite negligible.
The Effect of Tea Preparation Methods on Caffeine Content
The method used in preparing tea has a huge impact on the amount of caffeine in the tea. The longer the steeping time and the hotter the water, the more the caffeine content in a cup of tea.
For instance, Tazo Earl Grey Black Tea contains about 40 milligrams of caffeine per mug after steeping for 1 minute in 177 ml (6 ounces) of water at a temperature of between 194 to 203 degrees Fahrenheit (90 to 95 degrees Celsius). The amount of caffeine can rise to 59 milligrams after steeping for 3 minutes.
On the other hand, Stash Premium Green Tea contains 16 milligrams of coffee when steeped for 1 minute under similar conditions. The amount of caffeine increases to 36 milligrams after steeping for 3 minutes.
Should You Take Coffee Or Tea?
Caffeine acts quite quickly, typically within 20 to 60 minutes after consumption. If you’re highly sensitive to caffeine, consider taking teas that contain a lower caffeine content such as herbal or white teas. You can also brew teas containing a high amount of caffeine but for short periods, like steeping for 1 minute rather than 3.
You can also enjoy tea or coffee without consuming high amounts of caffeine by drinking decaffeinated espresso, coffee, or tea.
However, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, you can take drinks rich in caffeine such as cold brew, espresso, black tea, and green tea.
To be on the safer side, drink a maximum of 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, or a maximum of 200 milligrams of caffeine per serving. This amount translates to a maximum of 3 to 5 cups of coffee (a 237 ml or 8-ounce cup per serving) per day or 8 espresso shots (30 ml or 1 ounce serving per shot) per day.
Anyone who has health conditions such as heart disease, susceptible to migraines, or taking certain medications is advised to limit or avoid taking caffeinated drinks.
Breastfeeding or pregnant women are advised to take a maximum of 200 milligrams of caffeine per day, which translates to a maximum of 4 mugs of black tea (237 ml or 8 ounces per mug) or one cup (355 ml or 12 ounces) of coffee.
The caffeine content in coffee and tea is affected by the method used in preparing the drink and the type of coffee or tea.
Generally, coffee, espresso, and black tea contain the highest amount of caffeine. Green tea has moderate caffeine content. On the other hand, white teas have varying caffeine content whereas herbal teas contain negligible caffeine content.
If you want to reduce your caffeine intake, consider steeping tea for shorter periods. Also, consider taking decaf espressos and coffees.
However, if caffeine is not a concern, consume it as needed but not in amounts exceeding 400 milligrams per day.