During Shakespeare’s time, the average person believed that the body contained four essential „humors,“ including blood and bile. Nowadays, many of us would add coffee and tea to that list, flowing through our veins as a necessary part of our day. So many of us cannot (or do not want to) start our day without one of them. Both beverages provide energy, and their health benefits are constantly being confirmed in ongoing studies.
But in the battle between tea and coffee, is one „better“ than the other? The answer might surprise you.
Caffeine in Tea vs. Coffee
Coffee contains about twice as much caffeine as black tea, which is more caffeinated than green tea. So, here’s the breakdown of the caffeine content in different varieties of coffee and tea:
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration states that a daily caffeine intake of 400 mg is generally not associated with dangerous negative effects. That’s about four cups of coffee, give or take, eight cups of black tea, or almost 14 cups of green tea! When comparing green tea to coffee, consider how many more cups of green tea you can drink.
Which has more benefits?
Let’s compare tea and coffee in terms of the three benefits most commonly associated with caffeinated beverages.
Both coffee and tea can boost energy. Since coffee typically contains more caffeine than tea, it „can have stronger effects on attention,“ says registered dietitian and certified personal trainer Conor McCrink, RD, CPT, MSc.
„Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain, resulting in fewer adenosine molecules accumulating and reducing the feeling of fatigue,“ he explains.
After consumption, caffeine reaches its peak in the bloodstream within 30 minutes to an hour and takes about five hours for your body to eliminate half of it. (Keep that in mind when timing your last cup of coffee or tea.)
Paradoxically, although tea has less caffeine that makes you alert, it also provides an amino acid that can help you relax.
„Tea contains L-theanine, which can work synergistically with caffeine to promote relaxation and have subtler and longer-lasting effects on alertness,“ says McCrink.
Coffee and tea are neck-and-neck when it comes to antioxidant support. According to registered dietitian Cristina Svec, MA, RDN, CLE, both are „loaded with phytonutrients“ (plant chemicals) such as polyphenols and flavonoids.
„These act as antioxidants,“ she explains, offering all sorts of health benefits.
3. Weight Loss
Drinking coffee, tea, or a caffeinated supplement before exercise can help you have more energy for a longer workout. Both exercise and proper nutrition are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss and muscle definition.
Coffee and tea have no calories on their own, making them excellent additions to your goals. But beware: the „coffee“ or „tea“ drink you order might be full of sugar and milk (and calories). So, if you’re drinking something other than plain coffee or tea, check the ingredients list!
So, which is healthier?
The tea vs. coffee battle will end in a tie! Both beverages have benefits when consumed in moderation, as long as they do not disrupt your sleep or add too many sugary calories.
„You’ll find that different people have different opinions on this topic, mainly due to their preference for tea over coffee,“ says Svec. „As a nutritionist – and coffee drinker – I try to remain unbiased. Both coffee and tea can be healthy as long as they are not loaded with sugar and/or cream.“
Coffee can definitely be more acidic than tea, so consider that if you have a sensitive stomach. But ultimately, the tea vs. coffee is not an either-or choice!