There’s a good chance that you start your day with either tea or coffee and you’re in good company, because billions of humans do the same thing. In this tea vs coffee guide we’ll look at the benefits, popularity and caffeine content of both of these hot drinks, as well as green tea, espresso, energy drinks and more.
Tea vs Coffee: Benefits
There are benefits to both of these drinks. Coffee is often seen as an unhealthy drink, whereas tea is considered to be very healthy. This second bit is true, but coffee can also be healthy and there are a lot of positive studies out there that suggest regular consumption of coffee can help with heart health, mental health and more.
Black tea is packed full of antioxidants, which can help to eliminate free radicals in the body. This means that regular consumption can reduce your chances of getting cancer, while also providing benefits to the digestive system and cognitive function. Coffee also has antioxidants and these work in a similar way, bringing down inflammation, reducing the risk of disease and generally aiding with overall well being.
There are several positive studies, including this one in the Annals of Internal Medicine that suggests that three cups of coffee a day could extend your lifespan by reducing your odds of getting many diseases that are linked to high fatalities.
Of course, both of these drinks can also help to increase your energy and focus, which comes from the caffeine content. There is more caffeine in tea when you compare the raw ingredients on a pound for pound basis. However, as far as a cup of tea vs a cup of coffee goes, there is more caffeine in coffee.
Tea vs Coffee: Popularity
If you are in the United States, then you’ll see far more coffee than tea. If you go to someone’s house you will probably be offered coffee and soft drinks or alcoholic drinks, with barely a mention of tea. It is more popular in the south, but it still doesn’t come close to coffee.
In the UK, they take their tea a lot more seriously. They still drink coffee, but in many regions of the country the word for hot drink is used almost synonymously with tea. Coffee is still drunk in large quantities here though and it is also growing, which is mainly down to coffee chains like Starbucks and Costa.
In 2016, for example, it was calculated that Brits drank more than 2.1 billion cups of coffee outside their home, while they drank just under 900 million cups of tea. At home, much more tea is drunk though, so this may be down to the fact that coffee is quick and easy and there is no tea bag to steep and then dispose of. So, for caffeine addicts who usually get their fix from tea, coffee is probably a better option outside of the house.
Tea vs Coffee: Countries that Drink the Most
We mentioned the UK and the US above and quoted some facts, but there are more. In the UK, popularity is split roughly 80/20 for tea on the whole, accounting for every cup drunk inside and outside the home. In the US, the split is about 75/25 for coffee. The countries that drink the most coffee are those in South America and Central America, which is probably no coincidence, as this is where most of the world’s coffee comes from.
It has been said, for instance, that 99.5 cups of coffee are drunk for every 1 cup of tea in Dominican Republic and Guatemala, with similar high figures in Ecuador and Costa Rica. Greece, Denmark, Philippines and Slovenia also drink a lot of coffee. The countries that drink the most tea, on the other hand, include major producing countries like Kenya and China, but also many North African countries.
Green Tea vs Black Tea
Green tea is often considered to be healthier than black tea and this is true to some extent, but it all depends on what you perceive to be healthier. Many will look at the caffeine content and because green tea has about 1/4th of what it is in black tea, they will point to this one as being the healthiest.
There is more to it than that though. Green tea stands out for its EGCG content, which is a powerful antioxidant. Obviously, because all tea comes from the same plant and the differences lie in the stages it is harvested and the way it is produced, this can be found in all tea. But black tea is fermented and this fermentation process kills a lot of the EGCG.
So, there is more of this strong antioxidant in green tea and overall it has a better profile, but that doesn’t mean that black tea is unhealthy.
Green Tea vs Coffee
Black tea has a better profile than coffee and because green tea has a better nutrient profile than black tea, it’s obvious which one wins here. A good diet is one that includes several different healthy drinks and foods though, so there is no reason why you can’t enjoy both of these drinks.
Espresso vs Coffee
Espresso is a basically a shot of strong coffee. Designed to be sipped and to provide a quick fix, it has since become popular with caffeine addicts who add them to other coffee drinks to boost the caffeine.
There is about 80mg of caffeine in the average 1 ounce shot of espresso. This is on par with an average strength coffee.
Caffeine in Green Tea vs Coffee
There is about 20mg of caffeine in a strong cup of green tea, while there is between 100mg and 200mg in a cup of coffee. These numbers fluctuate considerably based on the type of leaf or bean, as well as the region it is produced and the way that it is processed afterwards.
Caffeine in Black Tea Tea vs Coffee
As mentioned above, there is between 100mg and 200mg in a standard cup of coffee (bearing in mind that there are super strong varieties out there that go way above this). In black tea, however, there is about 40mg to 60mg, depending on the length of time that is brewed.
There are also blends of tea that contain more caffeine than others, just as there are ways or preparing it, from using tea bags for a short steep to using loose leaves for a long one, that can drastically change the caffeine content.
Coffee vs Energy Drinks
On average, there is considerably more caffeine in energy drinks than there is in coffee. It all depends on the drink, of course, but generally there is between 20mg and 40mg per 100ml. There are some energy drinks out there that provide in excess of 200mg per serving, including the likes of 10 Hour Energy and 5 Hour Energy.
To compare to average soft drinks, you will find about 40mg to 50mg of caffeine in 12 ounce servings of Coke and Dr. Pepper. 200mg is a lot of caffeine from a single serving, which is why these drinks have received a lot of bad press in recent years. Excessive consumption has led to all kind of problems, including strokes and cardiac episodes, and because they are often consumed by kids and teens, their bodies are often not tolerant of such high levels and are definitely not prepared to cope with them.
Also these drinks are nowhere near as healthy as tea or coffee once you remove the caffeine factor.