How much caffeine is too much caffeine? A coffee or tea enthusiast would never have an answer to this. The two beverages are among the most popular drinks, but people usually prefer one over the other. While most of the time, the flavour of the drink becomes the deciding factor to enjoy a steaming cup of tea or coffee, many among us consider its other aspects before ordering the beverage. Here is our take on tea vs coffee.
Tea vs Coffee: What you need to know
How each of them is sourced
Tea is sourced from tea plants grown in cold weather conditions with acidic soil and at least 40 inches of annual rainfall. They are plated all over the world — from sea level to heights of around 2,100 metres.
China, India and Kenya are the world’s top tea producers. The two main tea plant types used for cultivation are Camellia sinensis and its variant assamica (tea that is grown in the valleys of northern India).
Usually, tea is harvested by workers who pick the leaves to retain quality, and there are two harvests per year. The ‘first flush’, sometimes referred to as the first harvest, takes place every spring. The second harvest, often known as the ‘second flush,’ takes place in the summer. In the early growth stages, plants are pruned by removing only the top two leaves and buds, encouraging new shoots, which result in a better harvest.
Big wicker baskets are used to collect the tea leaves after being removed from the plant. They are collected at a tea processing facility. These tea leaves are then oxidised, which helps divide them into several categories. And because the oxidation process starts as soon as the leaves are harvested, tea processing facilities are situated on the estate itself.
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Coffee is produced from beans which grow on coffee plants. They are evergreen bushes with a maximum height of 4–6 metres. Usually, huge beds in shady nurseries are used to grow coffee seeds. This is done to protect them from direct sunlight until they are tough enough to survive on their own. Planting is frequently done during the rainy season so that the roots take shape and develop in moist soil.
Only tropical places, specifically those between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, or what is referred to as the “bean belt,” are where coffee plants usually grow.
A coffee field is ideally harvested once a year, but in a nation like Colombia, two harvests are done a year with primary and secondary crops.
Similar to tea, coffee cherries are harvested by people as well. But in countries like Brazil, where the terrain is largely flat and the coffee fields are enormous, the process has been mechanised.
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Caffeine content in coffee and tea
The effects of caffeine on our health have been well-documented as both good and bad. However, tea and coffee being the most common beverages that include caffeine have been assumed harmful for the amount of caffeine it contains. But the method of preparation, length of brewing and servings, all affect the amount of caffeine present in a beverage.
According to a Times of India report, when evaluating the amounts of caffeine in the two drinks, tea has a lower caffeine level than coffee. Ideally, the recommended daily intake of caffeine for humans is 400 mg and a cup of black tea has 14–70 mg of caffeine as compared to 95–200 mg in an average cup of coffee.
Both beverages have decaf options, which means they undergo a process that removes most of the caffeine present in the beverage. According to the UK’s Holland and Barrett, decaffeinated tea should have less than 2.5 per cent of the caffeine it originally had. So, no decaf tea is genuinely caffeine-free. All kinds of teas can be decaffeinated, but the type of decaf tea option, which is readily available in the market, is black tea and green tea.
In the case of coffee, prior to roasting, 97 per cent of the caffeine is removed from decaf coffee beans through solvent washing. Although decaffeinated coffee has equivalent health advantages as tea, the former’s flavour and aroma could vary. The amount of caffeine in each cup of decaf coffee ranges from 0 to 7 mg. This is considerably less than what is present in normal coffee.
Yet, it is generally acknowledged that coffee is more frequently decaffeinated as a beverage than tea.
Health benefits of tea
One of the major benefits of consuming black tea is that it works like an antioxidant for the body. According to Healthline, “Consuming them can help remove free radicals and decrease cell damage in the body. This ultimately may help decrease the risk of chronic disease.”
Black tea has antioxidant properties, which can promote better gut and heart health. It can lower the chance of developing certain diseases as well. According to the same report, drinking tea every day can reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease by 4 per cent, heart attacks and other cardiovascular events by 2 per cent, stroke by 4 per cent, and all-cause death by 1.5 per cent.
Additionally, black tea can decrease LDL cholesterol by 4.64mg/dL, according to research mentioned in the report. Those with increased cardiovascular risk experienced this effect more strongly.
Black tea has a distinctive flavour and is believed to be invigorating. Additionally, L-theanine, an amino acid which is a component in tea, has soothing qualities that can help one relax while they are awake. Also, L-theanine is a chemical that metabolises caffeine over a longer period of time, helping people stay stress-free and more focused.
Health benefits of coffee
A popular beverage recognised for enhancing focus and boosting energy levels, coffee can also lower the risks of type 2 diabetes and depression, according to research by Healthline. Caffeine can lessen exhaustion by influencing the levels of a few neurotransmitters that are present in the brain. Additionally, the same research suggests that coffee consumption helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and cognitive decline.
Plus, coffee, too, has several antioxidants like flavonoids and chlorogenic acid, which help prevent the development of cancer cells, protecting against gastrointestinal and liver cancer.
Further, according to the report, drinking coffee can lower the chances of dying from chronic diseases as well as other liver illnesses like liver cancer and liver scarring. Hence, consuming three to four cups of coffee a day has been linked to a number of health advantages and is usually regarded as safe for most adults.
Depending on whether it is instant, espresso or filtered, coffee contains 1.1 to 1.8 grams of fibre per cup as compared to tea, which has no fibre content unless consumed with tea leaves, according to a report published by the National Centre of Biotechnology Information. Also, several studies reveal that coffee lowers the development of depression and helps ease stress, enhancing the ability to focus.
Side effects of tea and coffee
While the list of benefits of consuming tea and coffee is a long one, there are some side effects associated with the beverages as well. Since both of them have caffeine, it is likely to cause insomnia, digestive issues, restlessness, dependency, headache, fast heart rate and dizziness, according to US-based MedlinePlus.
However, these side effects can vary from one individual to another but can start showing up soon. So, you must always consider analysing your sleep cycle, energy and blood sugar levels before increasing or decreasing the intake of these beverages.
Is one better than the other?
Considering all the health benefits and side effects of tea and coffee, if consumed with caution, both tea and coffee can be more than just beverages.
When it comes to a constructive assessment of which beverage is better, it entirely depends on how each individual’s body responds to the two as well as the quantity consumed. If taken sparingly, either may not harm your health, but if consumed in excess, caffeine can negatively impact your body and sleep cycle.
Keep in mind that brewed coffee usually has two to four times more caffeine than tea.
If you experience the slightest discomfort while or after consuming either drink, it is recommended to consult a physician.
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