How do you start your mornings? If you prep a steamy mug of coffee or tea, you’re not alone. But there’s been a long-running unofficial battle between coffee and tea drinkers that hinges on a simple question: Is tea healthier than coffee?
Keep reading for an examination of tea vs coffee and a look at the health benefits of coffee and tea consumption.
Tea Vs Coffee: Is One Better For You Than The Other?
Alright, let’s start by solving the age-old riddle. The truth is when it comes to drinking tea versus drinking coffee… they both offer great health benefits. That’s right. Coffee and tea both have their merits. And there are just so many wonderful varieties of tea and coffee, you’re certain to find the flavor profile that works for you.
But what are the differences between the benefits reaped by the coffee drinker and the tea drinker?
Caffeine 101: The Caffeine Content In Tea And Coffee
First, it’s important to realize that caffeine is not actually considered a nutrient. Instead, it’s really a dietary component that works as a stimulant in your body. Caffeine comes from plants and is entirely natural. While you can find caffeine in coffee beans, green tea and black tea leaves, it’s also found in cocoa beans and kola nuts. 1
Of course, you’ll also find that caffeine is added to bad-for-you products like caffeinated sodas or energy drinks(which are also high in sugar). These are often the reasons caffeine gets a bad rap. When it comes to how much caffeine is in a certain beverage, you should know the content varies. For instance, caffeinated drip or brewed coffee drinks usually contain around 12 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce, while espresso drinks may have up to 64 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce. That’s a vast difference. 2
When it comes to the amount of caffeine in fresh-brewed black tea, you may find up to 6 mg per fluid ounce and there can be about 5 mg per fluid ounce in brewed green tea. Where you can really get into some trouble is drinking an energy drink that may have up to 35 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce. 3
All that said, consuming caffeine in moderation (no more than 400 mg/day) can be considered part of a healthy diet. For a healthy adult, moderate coffee consumption isn’t associated with an increased risk of chronic illnesses or heart health complications. However, adding sugar and empty calories to your coffee and tea drinks is what can really increase your risk for damaging your health and developing certain health issues.4If you really love it sweet and creamy, try adding a natural sweetener like stevia or monk fruit and a splash of unsweetened almond milk.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Coffee?
One of the greatest benefits of drinking coffee, or tea for that matter, is the content of natural plant chemicals found in both beverages. They’re called polyphenols and they’re shown in several studies to offer certain health benefits. According to the US National Institutes of Health, research indicates polyphenol consumption may play a significant part in supporting your metabolism, weight loss or weight control, heart health and much more.5
Not only does coffee offer helpful amounts of polyphenols, but it is also chock full of good-for-you nutrients. And when it comes to comparing tea vs coffee, coffee is actually a better source of potassium, magnesium, and manganese. 6
What Are The Health Benefits Of Tea?
The major health benefits of green tea and black tea are pretty similar to the benefits of coffee. For one thing, both black tea and green tea also have polyphenols known as flavonoids. Flavonoids are known for their antioxidant abilities and they’re capable of helping with swelling and redness. 7
If you happen to be looking for the highest possible concentration of antioxidants, you’ll want to go with green tea. Green tea isn’t processed in the same way black tea or coffee is, so it holds onto its flavonoid content a little better than the others. Matcha tea is a concentrated form of green tea that may also yield super health benefits.
Moreover, the antioxidant content in green tea has been shown in certain circumstances to help support improvements in muscle strength and aerobic endurance. 8 Green tea also has compounds likely to help reduce your risk of some serious health issues. Green tea and black tea possess compounds that have the right types of antioxidant properties that could help you protect your cells from free radical damage. 9
Many studies do report that tea might also support a reduction in stress levels due to its L-theanine content. L-theanine is an amino acid and it can only be found in tea. L-theanine decreases the binding of neuro-chemicals that can affect stress in your brain. 10>
Another interesting benefit of tea is that it can support healthy bones. One Australian study proved that drinking black tea was linked to a lower risk of fracture-related hospital stays, especially for senior women. 11
A final note about tea is that it seems to be slightly more environmentally friendly to produce. Growing tea may prove to have a lower environmental footprint than growing coffee. 12
Tea Vs Coffee: Is There Really A Debate?
Whether you’re a coffee drinker or a tea drinker, there are several options. Coffee, for example, comes in at least 40 different varietals. Most of the varietals are processed in the same way, but processing temperatures vary. The duration of roasting can also help offer different aromas and flavor profiles between different types of roasts.
When it comes to tea, though, you’ll find thousands of different kinds of tea. There are also a lot of different ways to make tea. So, if you are looking for variety — tea might be the way to go. Here’s a list of some of the most popular types of tea:
- Black tea
- Green tea
- White tea
- Chai tea
- Earl grey tea
- Ginger tea (decaf)
- Rooibos tea (decaf)
- Yerba mate tea
- Peppermint tea (decaf)
- Chamomile tea (decaf)
- Hibiscus tea (decaf)
- Matcha green tea
Again, there’s really no debate. It all comes down to your preference.