Tea vs Coffee: Which one is Healthier?
Coffee and tea are the most popular duo beverages found in most households globally.
Yet, their components and their effects on our health remain mysterious. Researchers and scientists are often running experiments and studies.
This article is meant to look into the various health benefits of coffee and tea.
Caffeine is a popular ingredient that is associated with body stimulation. There are various sources of caffeine. Coffee and tea are the most common sources of caffeine. Yet, energy drinks and sodas are a favorite, especially to the younger generation.
This ingredient jerks you up in your morning coffee or relaxes you after a tiring day in your evening tea. But, you can not compare the experience between drinking tea and coffee.
Tea leaves contain higher caffeine content than coffee beans. But you will wonder, why is coffee more preferred?
It all depends on the origin, the type of the drink, and the preparation method. For example caffeine in coffee increases when brewed. The preparation method extracts more caffeine from beans. So 1 cup of brewed coffee, approximately 235 ml, has more caffeine than a similar cup of tea.
Tea Category and Preparation
Taking hot or cold, you have more than 14 different varieties of tea to choose from. As an occasional tea drinker, I have a lot of options to explore.
But there are 6 main coffee categories: Black, green, Oolong, Pu’erh, white, and herbal teas.
Herbal tea-: A favorite for health-conscious people. It doesn’t contain tea plant leaves. Instead, it is made of spices, herbs, and other plants.
What are Caffeine levels? It is made of no tea leaves. This makes the drink with no trace of caffeine.
White tea-: The tea leaves used in this process are not oxidized. The leaves are lighter and at times yellowish in color.
What about the Caffeine? The levels are often lower than most of the other teas. It varies but never exceeds a cup of coffee.
Pu’erh tea-: This option incorporates aged and fermented tea. A preferable option for dealing with digestion issues.
What are the Caffeine levels? Like white tea, it contains slight caffeine content and can vary.
Oolong Tea-: From the same plant that produces black and green tea, you get Oolong. The difference is that the leaves undergo semi-oxidation. Researchers are still trying to determine if this tea reduces the risk of diabetes.
Does it have Caffeine? Yes. But it contains more content than green tea but not more than the black team.
Green Tea-: Unlike black tea, here the leaves are not oxidized. It increases metabolism, lowers the risk of heart failure but reduces cholesterol levels.
Caffeine? It does contain caffeine but not as much as a cup of coffee.
Black Tea -: This is one of my favorites because of the flavor and smell. This is because the leaves are being oxidized for hours. It has been associated with a reduced risk of stroke, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
What about Caffeine. It does contain high caffeine levels but less than normal cups of brewed coffee.
Contains herbs & Spices
Soothes a cold
Good for healthy skin and cells
Yes, lower than most tea.
Produced from fermented leaves
Useful for digestion
Varying amount but no more than a cup of coffee.
Leaves are semi-oxidized
Reduces risk of digestion
Yes, not more than black tea.
Leaves aren’t oxidized
Lowers risk of heart failure.
Varying but less than half a cup of coffee.
Leaves are oxidized for long
Reduces risk of stroke
Ideally less than a typical cup of coffee
As evident above, the type of tea and its mode of preparation predicts the caffeine you will consume. Probably that is why I love my tea hot with the leaves soaked for long. This brings out the tasty smell and the burst of flavors.
Coffee Variety and Preparation
Just like the grueling option of settling for tea, coffee offers the same variety to choose from. But, the caffeine intensity varies. This is determined by the brewing process, coffee grinds, and the type of beans.
As a coffee enthusiast, the key area you need to understand is the types of coffee beans.
The cheapest of the two options. It is much stronger and contains higher caffeine content. Commonly used in espresso drinks to add a sparkle to the coffee.
Probably the last cup of coffee you drank was Arabica. It has more flavor with added acidity levels. It is more expensive because of the intensity of work used in production. Arabica contains lower caffeine content.
Types of coffee drinks
You have many options to choose from based on flavor, aromatic smell, or the fruity taste in your coffee.
But you need to decide between having it cold or hot. This doesn’t imply the temperature levels but the brewing process involved.
Let’s first delve into Iced coffee:
This cold-brewed coffee tantalizes your buds with a lemon sweet taste. It’s mainly prepared as an espresso with added lemon and sugar flavor. You can also try to spice it up with your favorite rum.
To add a refreshing sparkle, brewers inject nitrogen into the cold-brewed coffee. Ideal as a summer drink, this beverage is served from a tap and feels like drinking a stout beer.
This mode of coffee preparation entails for the beans to be soaked for 12-24 hours in a freezer. Thereafter you can top it up with cream or milk.
There is no major formula here. It’s just coffee with added ice. You can spice it up with cream or sugar.
Now let’s talk about the hot brewing method. We will then figure out where they get the highest concentration of caffeine.
Black. It needs easy preparation. Ground coffee beans served in hot water. You can add a sweetener or have it just like that.
Latte. Found in most coffee shops, this drink is available in different flavors like vanilla. Mostly it consists of a shot of espresso and a touch of steamed milk.
Cappuccino. This is another variation of the latte but more foam with a touch of cocoa.
Expresso. You can either have it as a one-shot or serve it with another coffee drink like lattes or macchiatos.
Mocha. This is a chocolate-flavored drink. Just like an espresso drink but with indeed steam milk or foam.
Other notable types of coffee drinks include
- Flat white
- Red Eye
When coffee is brewed hot, the high temperatures will extract higher caffeine content. Hot brewed coffee will give you a higher caffeine concentration than cold-brewed coffee.
But it is important to know that cold-brewed coffee contains a higher ratio of coffee beans to water. This is often 2 or 2.5 higher than water.
In an interview with The Kitchn, Joseph Rivera from Coffee Chemistry revealed that caffeine dissolves faster in a hot brew.
If you use the same ratio of coffee to water over either hot or cold brewing, the cold brew will give you less caffeine.
However, cold brew often gets diluted with either water or milk. This eventually reduces the caffeine concentration in your coffee.
Both coffee and tea are popular beverages that elicit varied opinions on their effects. Researchers are on the lookout for ways to understand the complexity of tea and coffee.
Let’s get right into it and explore the health goodness of drinking tea and coffee.
Health goodness of tea and coffee
The richness of the Antioxidants
There are a wide array of tea options. But, the most dominant options for health-conscious people are green and black tea. Thanks to the rich package of antioxidants found in the beverages.
Notable groups of antioxidants found in tea include Polyphenols, theaflavins, and thearubigins. That’s quite a mouthful so let’s try to break this into biteable bits.
A study done on rodents identified the benefits of antioxidants. This included lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of diabetes and obesity. Participating rodents were exposed to a variation of black tea with antioxidants components.
Another experiment was conducted on green tea. The findings identified antioxidants properties that led to reduced body fat. Consuming 0.69 liters of green tea daily for twelve weeks is useful in managing your obesity.
This is one of the greatest sources of antioxidants among millions globally. The most powerful antioxidants compounds found in coffee include hydrocinnamic acid and polyphenols.
The hydrocinnamic acid injects electrons into the free radicals thus preventing oxidative stress. The benefits include anti-aging, lowered risks of diseases. Some of these diseases are Alzheimer’s, Parkinson and cancer.
Polyphenol is a rich compound. It lowers the growth of cancer cells, prevention of heart diseases, and treating diabetics.
Improve your heart health
Flavonoids are a group of antioxidants that are common in black tea. They can also be found in red wine, dark chocolates, or some vegetables.
Are you a regular consumer of black tea? Then you lower your chances to get heart disease. This also includes reducing blood pressure, high cholesterol levels as well as diabetes.
Evidence suggests that daily intake of tea puts out the risk of developing heart problems. Drinking 3-4 cups is the daily consumption recommended.
Does coffee lead to increased blood pressure? Yes and no.
The pressure will increase but will disappear slowly with increased regular consumption. But, this may not be the case for everyone. If the blood persists then it is prudent to consult a medical professional.
Coffee has been found to lower the risk of stroke and doesn’t increase the risk of heart diseases.
Cholesterol is good for your body. So what happens to make it worse?
Lipoproteins. There are two kinds and they transport cholesterol throughout the body. Low-density lipoprotein transports cholesterol to cells.
High-density lipoproteins are considered good. They disperse cholesterol further from the cells to the liver.
Tea has been found to reduce low-density lipoproteins. Black tea for that matter will lower cholesterol levels by up to 11%.
Coffee has been associated with cholesterol for many years. Studies reveal that coffee oils affect the body’s ability to metabolize cholesterol.
The oils in question here are cafestol. It elevates cholesterol in humans.
But, you can manage the coffee oils in your cup of coffee. This will be determined by your brewing methods, and filtration process.
Manage your Blood pressure
Our focus will be on a controlled study done on men and women aged 35-75. was done to establish consumption of black tea in reducing blood pressure.
The outcome. Those who drank black tea had to decrease blood pressure compared to the placebo group.
Another study involving 343 participants found improved blood pressure. Drinking black tea while incorporating a healthy lifestyle helps you manage blood pressure.
Coffee leads to blood pressure. But don’t be scared if you don’t have high blood pressure. It has not been fully ascertained how coffee affects your blood pressure.
Some researchers believe that caffeine causes the adrenal glands to release more adrenaline. Others tend to think that caffeine blocks a hormone in the arteries making them wider.
Coffee can lead to a short increase in your blood pressure. It remains vague why but it differs from person to person.
Risk of Cancer
Cancer has become a mammoth that keeps wiping away humankind globally. There are 100 types of cancers and some of them can be prevented.
Polyphenols found in black tea can prevent the growth of cancer cells. A study found compounds in black and green tea that hindered cell development.
Another one found that black tea regulates the spread of breast tumors. The polyphenols compound found in black tea intercepts hormones that depend on the breast tumors making it independent.
Evidence shows that coffee will protect you from liver and colorectal cancer. Studies have shown coffee drinkers reduce their chance to get liver cancer up to 40%.
Another study found that drinking 4-5 cups of coffee lowers your risk of getting colon cancer up to 15%.
Focus and Performance
Studies show that L-theanine and caffeine have a positive impact on your focus mode. Beverages containing these elements will improve your alertness. L-theanine increases activity in the brain leading to sharper focus.
Caffeine, a major component of coffee, is an adenosine inhibitor. Adenosine receptors receive signals which send the body to experience drowsiness and fatigue.
When you decide to drink coffee, these are some of the benefits you will experience.
- Improved alertness
- Improved memory when working
- Improved mood
- Reduced depression
Which one is your preferred option?
We have analyzed the common components between coffee and tea. As we had mentioned, the results on the health benefits between coffee and tea are not conclusive.
But, the information shared here should enlighten you on what is contained in your favorite beverage. It could be a starting point for your research or you are just curious.
The debate on which of the two is still open. I enjoy either of the drinks at different times. It is up to you to decide on which one works best for you.