Most of us know coffee drinkers, but then there are exclusive tea drinkers as well.
So which is better? Let’s take a deep dive into the differences, the benefits, and the drawbacks.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that we’re not demonizing coffee or tea here, just celebrating the diversity in them.
By the end of this article, you will be able to feel good about drinking either, and even better about going half tea, and half coffee.
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of coffee vs. tea dilemma, we got you covered:
The Science of Coffee
Coffee is the black nectar of every successful morning—for most people. Coffee has four main components: caffeine, diterpenes, melanoidins, and chlorogenic acid.
When these profiles are revealed through roasting and brewing coffee, that’s when you get the light brown color of coffee, the aroma, and the benefits of heightened spatial awareness.
The caffeine in coffee reacts with certain receptors in your brain and competes with the neurotransmitter adenosine. Adenosine can make you feel sleepy, so if its action is blocked by competing with caffeine then you don’t feel too tired.
That is why you’ll feel more awake or potentially hyper after a cup of coffee.
Since coffee reacts in everyone’s body differently, some will feel heightened blood pressure as well as hypersensitivity. More on this in the health effects and benefits in the section below and in our other articles here and here.
The Science of Tea
Tea, much like coffee, is grown in nature but undergoes minimal chemical processing.
One of the main similarities in tea is the presence of polyphenols, which are also in coffee.
These are micronutrients that offer antioxidant benefits, which can help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals found in the body.
The power of antioxidants shouldn’t be understated; they can help with protection from tobacco, alcohol, and even sun damage.
Tea is treated like a vegetables in terms of processing. Tea leaves need to be extracted and dried quickly to prevent the loss of benefits or flavor.
Where most of America drinks arabica coffee, the health benefits are limited, but there are numerous types of tea.
For instance, green tea is considered to be a powerful, though sometimes controversial inclusion in your diet that can help fight back against cancer, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Differences in Chemical Processing
So we know some of the biological differences between the two, but processing between the two different beverages are entirely different.
For one, you don’t have to roast tea leaves as you do with coffee.
Coffee beans are seeds filled with chemicals to help them grow. Coffee beans change their composition once roasted.
Remember chlorogenic acid that we talked about earlier? Those are basically the antioxidants, which are created through the roasting process.
Tea leaves are dried rather than roasted and separated so that a uniform size of tea leaves are grouped together.
Much like how we seek a uniform grind size when making coffee, we need similarly sized tea leaves to get the right consistency in every single cup.
Once tea leaves are dried, they can be stored for longer periods of time without requiring the same airtight containers that coffee beans are stored in.
There’s actually very little chemical processing, apart from the chemical changes that occur from the two different preparation methods.
That is until you get to decaf coffee. It’s a common misconception that all caffeine is bad because unless you have a hypersensitivity or high-risk factor for caffeine, decaf is actually worse for you.
Decaffeination occurs through four different sources. There are indirect solvent and direct solvent processes, which use brines and chemicals (benzene) to withdraw the caffeine from the beans.
Those can be harmful because each bean is literally soaked in these chemicals for 12 to 36 hours on average.
If your decaf coffee comes through the carbon dioxide process, that’s okay, but the Swiss water process is the most effective at removing caffeine without introducing chemicals into your cup.
Health Effects of Coffee and Tea
The big debate between tea vs. coffee is in the health sector.
Tea is often seen as a conservative way to ingest a healthier form of caffeine (even though it’s just about as healthy as arabica caffeine), whereas coffee is viewed as something with more drawbacks than benefits.
Either way, you can become dependent on caffeine, regardless of the source. The argument about caffeine being less prevalent in tea is completely mythical.
Tea has more caffeine than coffee, but you don’t need a lot of tea to make a full 8 oz cup.
You need a higher concentration of coffee in order to get a good tasting cup, so you’re using more coffee, but on a biological level, tea does have more caffeine.
Coffee is quickly metabolized and may even increase your metabolic rate for digesting foods and fats.
A healthy amount of coffee (no more than 400 milligrams a day) has the potential to break down fats and prevent excessive weight gain.
Coffee does raise your blood pressure, which can be positive or negative depending on you.
If you’re an athletic person who maintains a healthy BMI and regularly exercises, this increases cardiovascular function and helps to most p27 proteins around, which can help reverse heart cell and tissue damage.
However, if you are inactive or obese, this puts you at a higher risk of a heart attack.
On the flip side, tea may actually lower your blood pressure.
Black tea, green tea, and hibiscus tea can help lower your blood pressure by two to three points, which could be enough to tip the scales in your favor when dealing with other health-related issues and symptoms.
A Cup Of Fresh Black Tea
Since it lowers blood pressure, tea is a better beverage choice for late afternoons or evenings if you’re trying to wind down, whereas coffee might perk you up enough that you don’t sleep well.
Drinking tea comes with a bunch of alternative benefits that don’t get much time in the spotlight. Some are speculation, but most have been proven.
Black tea could help you fight the risk of heart attack, prevent cardiovascular disease and related symptoms, as well as protect your skin against the harmful properties of ultraviolet rays.
As coffee also does, tea can help regulate blood sugar and help with fat burning in patients of type II diabetes.
Tea is far less likely to dehydrate you, as opposed to coffee, but doesn’t offer the same digestive benefits as coffee.
The oils in coffee that help to break up fat are transferred to your digestive tract, aiding in more consistent movements.
Everyone reacts differently, so based on your diet and base reaction to coffee, you could become regular or experience diarrhea shortly after consuming coffee.
If you suffer from asthma, you’ll be excited about these benefits. Coffee and tea both contain caffeine, which is similar to theophylline (tea contains both of these naturally).
Theophylline is a bronchodilator drug that helps open up your airways and increase breathing capacity, though it is short-lived.
This means a cup of coffee or tea prior to a cardio workout could greatly benefit the way you breathe throughout your exercises, and throughout the day for that matter.
Tea and coffee are essentially just conduits of polyphenols and caffeine, with a
few key differences.
If Tea Has Caffeine, Why Does it Help us Wind Down?
We know caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the brain, which basically prevents adenosine from working, but it also has two other stimulants that work differently.
Black and green tea contain theophylline and theobromine, which help to relax your muscles. They’re still technically stimulants, but stimulants don’t have to have a supercharged effect.
There’s enough of these in tea to help lower blood pressure, which is what your body naturally does at night to help you fall asleep.
This mimics the pattern that your body already goes through at night, effectively helping you feel calmer and sleepier.
But there’s also L-theanine, an amino acid that’s almost exclusively found in tea. It’s an odd mix between enhanced alertness, as is associated with caffeine, as well as relaxation.
It effectively creates a relaxed-alert state, where you can be calmer, while still having increased spatial awareness.
If you have a hypersensitivity to caffeine, tea’s added benefits of L-theanine, theophylline, and theobromine could be enough to make this your new primary beverage.
If Coffee Increases Blood Pressure, Why Does it Help Rheumatoid Arthritis?
It comes back to antioxidants.
Rheumatoid arthritis is prevalent in over one million Americans, and those numbers could be rising.
Antioxidants fight free radicals, which helps to cut down on swelling and inflammation throughout numerous areas of your body.
RA affects everyone differently, but since it degenerates tissue and damages joints, the protein movement effects of coffee could actually help to prevent further damage.
It’s all about the polyphenols.
Tea vs. coffee: which one do you side with?
Tea vs. coffee: which one do you side with?
They each have their strengths and weaknesses, but a fact sheet isn’t enough to compel most people one way or the other.
You don’t actually have to pick a side; keep a blend of tea and coffee in your life to experience all the benefits, and stave-off any caffeine dependencies or tension headaches.
Interested in the health effects of coffee? Then you may like to read our other posts here and here.