Coffee Facts

Tea vs. Coffee: Which Packs A Bigger Caffeine Punch?

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The term caffeine is usually perceived to be a synonym for coffee. But some other sources of caffeine in your diet might be contributing to its consumption more.

These include energy drinks, soft drinks, chocolate and various types of tea. It is estimated that 80% of the population drinks a caffeinated beverage on a daily basis. Whether that’s black tea or a latte, they both contain caffeine.

How do they compare? And is one of them better than the other?

Is caffeine the bad guy that you should try to limit as much as possible or is that just a popular myth?

Fear not, this article will answer all of these questions. And more.

How Much Caffeine In Coffee vs Tea?

When looking at the caffeine content in coffee beans versus tea leaves, the former one contains more. But it is coffee that usually has more caffeine.

This is because the caffeine in both of these beverages depends on the preparation and the brewing time. A cup of coffee is more concentrated than a cup of tea since we tend to use less than 5g of tea leaves per cup compared to at least 10g of coffee grinds for a cup of coffee.

Also, the fact that coffee is typically brewed at a higher temperature than tea (around 195F-205F) means the caffeine levels will be higher.

Hot Tea

Coffee and Caffeine

The brewing time and the preparation method have an impact on how much caffeine is in your cup. Which is why the caffeine levels in different coffee beverages differ.

An 8oz cup of brewed coffee, on average, contains 85 milligrams of caffeine while an espresso contains around 60mg per single shot. At most cafes, a double shot is considered a standard serving. This means beverages such as lattes or cappuccinos commonly contain 120g of caffeine per cup.

Instant coffee has around 60mg of caffeine and even if you opt for a decaf coffee, it still contains some caffeine, even if only negligible amounts, around 2mg.

Strikingly, a cold brew, which is different from an iced coffee because it is prepared at room temperature and steeped for around 8-12 hours, can result in 150-230 milligrams per cup!

Now you know which one to go for the next Monday morning.

Not All Tea (Caffeine Content) Is Created Equal

Even though all black, white and green tea come from the leaves of the same plant, the time of harvest and the oxidation sets them apart. So does the steeping time which influences the amount of caffeine.

While the black tea is brewed with boiling water and steeped for the longest amount of time, it also contains the highest amount of caffeine, around 45-60mg per cup, which is similar to a single shot of espresso.

In comparison, a cup of green tea delivers around 20-45mg and a cup of white tea around 6-60mg per cup. These are brewed for a shorter amount of time, only up to 3 minutes while also using water at a lower temperature.

Some examples of highly caffeinated tea include matcha tea which contains 35mg of caffeine per 1 gram serving. Another example is Yerba Mate, which is traditionally enjoyed in South America and can pack up to 85mg of caffeine per cup. Which would, indeed, be similar to a cup of brewed coffee.

In contrast, if you want to drink tea with the lowest amount of caffeine, you should opt for herbal tea, such as peppermint, camomille or rooibos, which are basically caffeine-free. Another option of how to reduce the caffeine levels is shortening the steeping time of white or green tea.

Coffee vs Tea

Which One Is Better For You?

When considering whether to pick coffee or tea, the caffeine hit greatly depends on the type of coffee and tea you’re using.

And if the caffeine content is your concern, while a black tea might seem like a more sensible option than a cup of brewed coffee, it actually gives you similar amounts.

In general, it is recommended that if you are a healthy adult, you shouldn’t exceed 400mg of caffeine per day. Which equals to several cups of coffee and tea.

Excessive amounts of caffeine are associated with anxiety, restlessness and disturbed sleep.

You should adjust the amount according to your caffeine sensitivity and how your body responds to it. While some people can feel the buzz for hours, for others, the effects ease off quickly.

If you are within the group of people who should limit the caffeine intake such as pregnant women, children, people with a heart condition or those prone to migraines, you should stick to a cup of tea with less caffeine or opt for decaffeinated versions if you still want to enjoy these beverages.

Let’s not forget that soft drinks, energy beverages and certain types of food can contain significant amounts of caffeine with added sugar as well. Therefore, both coffee and tea, which are naturally sugar-free, are healthy drinks if enjoyed in moderation.

Benefits of Caffeine

While caffeine gets a lot of bad rap, it also has an array of health benefits. It can boost athletic performance, lift your mood and help you burn more fat.

Naturally, we are rooting for the team “coffee”. So apart from the said benefits of caffeine, coffee also packs nutrients like Vitamin B2, B5, antioxidants and has been said to help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, it was proved by this Harvard study that women who drank 4 cups of coffee per day were 20% less likely to become depressed.

There you go, proven by science, coffee makes you happy.


The Verdict

The amount of caffeine that your cup of coffee or tea contains will vary significantly on the type of beverage as well as the preparation method. A cup of coffee typically contains 60mg of caffeine but some beverages can contain up to 230mg.

The caffeine content of tea varies depending on the type of tea, the water temperature and the steeping time. Green and white teas contain lower levels than black tea or highly caffeinated yerba mate or green matcha.

If you are sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or have a heart condition, you should limit the amount consumed. In this case, herbal teas or decaffeinated coffee are good options to consider.

Stay caffeinated.

Or decaffeinated?

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