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Coffee and Tea: The Great Debate

I am obsessed with coffee and tea; I almost never go a day without drinking one of these beverages. I know every coffee shop in both my hometown as well as at school. I know more little details about the ins and outs of the world of coffee and tea than I’d like to admit. Although my love for these drinks does not stem from necessity, as a college student the fact that the two contain caffeine (with exceptions) is a major plus; I could not make it through all-nighters or stressful study sessions without it. But with the amount of the drinks that I consume, is it taking a toll on my health and if so, what would the best choice be for me?

Priscilla Du Preez

Coffee and tea are actually very similar. While they differ in caffeine content and acidity, coffee being higher in both, the two beverages can have comparable effects on the body. Caffeine from both drinks have a few positives including the following:

  • Improved mood

  • Improved athletic performance

  • Improved mental alertness

  • Reduced risk of various chronic diseases

These benefits are great, however, most people think of jitters when caffeine comes to mind. These jitters are associated with only coffee, not tea. This is due to the way that the different types of caffeine affect the body. Coffee gives us an instant perk up, instantaneously increasing dopamine levels, leading to an increase in alertness and making us feel less tired. But this jolt of energy, which comes on very quickly (hence the jitters) and is often followed by a crash. Tea’s caffeine isn’t as fast-acting, making the drinker feel more relaxed and calm without a feeling of drowsiness. Lemon_Tea_In_Hand

The caffeine content in the two drinks can vary depending on how you drink it. For example, light roast coffee actually has more caffeine than dark roast coffee. This is because the roasting process of beans essentially "cooks out" the caffeine as the bean becomes darker. On the tea spectrum, the caffeine content is higher in black tea than in green tea. Similar to coffee, this is due to the amount of time that the leaves are fermented. White, green, yellow, oolong and black tea all come from the same plant, but the amount of time that the leaves are allowed to ferment or oxidize after being picked differs. Caffeine increases respectively between these steeped teas, but in the tea family matcha also has a high concentration of caffeine. This is because the drinker is consuming the entire tea leaf, which is prepared from a powdered form, not just the steeping liquid.

There actually aren’t too many things going for the negative side of caffeine. If you consume too much, there is a chance that you could overdose on it, but it would take almost 100 cups of coffee in a day, and many more cups of tea, to do so.Latte Hand

Okay, so we’ve got the caffeine thing down, is there anything else to know about the health effects of coffee and tea? In addition to caffeine benefits from the two beverages, coffee and tea are also home to many antioxidants that can have incredible effects on our health. The drinks are not dehydrating either. Coffee does tend to make people thirstier, but you are not actually losing liquid as you drink it, proving this to be a common misconception. But past this, there isn’t too much. Issues begin when various drinks are concocted with the two drinks. Adding creams and sweeteners is what can really be unhealthy. When it comes down to it, as long as you are reasonable with what you add to your drinks, you will be fine. All in all, coffee and tea actually are not bad for your health, and one really isn’t better than the other.

So, continue to sip and enjoy, you just might be doing yourself a favor!

Coffee Beans Close Up