Coffee vs. tea: Which is better?
- Encyclopedia Britannica explains that coffee is a 'beverage brewed from the roasted and ground seeds of the tropical evergreen coffee plants of African origin,' and was cultivated in Southern Arabia in the 15th century, supposedly after a legendary goat herder noticed that his flock demonstrated 'strange antics' after consuming the plant.
- Statista states that South America is ranked as the top coffee-producing region in the world, making '77 million 60 kilogram bags per year.' The largest global market for coffee is the US, with revenues of over $81 billion.
- Camellia sinensis, also known as the tea plant, produces black, green, oolong, or pouchong tea after manufacturing, while herbal tea is considered an infusion of 'various leaves, fruits, bark, roots, or flowers belonging to almost any edible, non-tea plant.'
- According to the Tea Association of the USA, as of 2022, 'over 159 million Americans are drinking tea' on any given day.
In the coffee versus tea debate--especially regarding health benefits-- there is one clear winner: tea. Coffee is a diuretic that dehydrates, while tea better hydrates the body and supports healthy blood vessel function. Tea also protects against depression, decreases stress, and improves cognitive functioning. Evidence suggests that the bone-strengthening qualities of tea lower the risk of osteoporosis, and tea is also thought to protect against kidney stones and arthritis.
Conversely, coffee can increase the risk of miscarriage and PMS, cause digestive problems, and disrupt metabolism. Tea, however, can promote proper digestion and support a healthy gut microbiome, encouraging weight loss and fat metabolism with polyphenols like theaflavin. Tea helps with inflammation, while coffee can worsen it. Tea has also been found to help lower triglyceride levels and cholesterol and protect against stroke and heart disease. Coffee, however, increases heart rate, raises blood pressure, and has been linked to heart attacks and heart failure. And it's notable that although both drinks can stain teeth, tea can fight cavities.
Both coffee and tea contain caffeine, which improves focus when consumed in moderation. Yet the alertness typically brought on by tea tends to be less disruptive, likely due to its L-theanine content. Both drinks energize, but there are no jitters, disruption of sleep, anxiety, or crash associated with tea. Coffee is more potentially unhealthy and addictive, especially in excess. Conversely, consuming multiple cups of tea daily increases its many benefits.
Finally, although both beverages provide antioxidants, which support immunity, are known to possess anti-cancerous properties, and may protect against Parkinson's disease and other serious conditions, tea is more accessible and eco-friendly, with no equipment or machinery required to brew, and there's a wider selection available. Tea is simply the better choice.
It is for good reason that coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, as it has several advantages that set it apart from other drinks like tea. Coffee contains caffeine, a natural stimulant that can improve alertness, attention, and focus, making it the perfect option for those who want a fast pick-me-up in the morning or a boost to remain awake and aware throughout the day. And because coffee contains 'two to three times more caffeine compared to a similar-sized black tea,' this benefit is felt more immediately. In addition to giving a burst of energy, the caffeine in coffee can also enhance cognitive performance.
And due to the antioxidants and other compounds found in coffee that help regulate blood sugar levels, drinking coffee can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, a prevalent and dangerous health concern affecting millions worldwide.
Additionally, coffee's higher caffeine content, compared to tea, can enhance athletic prowess, including increasing endurance, decreasing tiredness, and boosting muscular strength. Not to mention its ability to 'improve the body's ability to burn fat during exercise.' It is, therefore, a preferred option for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
Coffee, specifically, may also lower your chance of developing liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. This advantage is brought about by coffee’s antioxidants and other substances, which help shield the liver from harm.
Finally, coffee is more widely available and in demand compared to tea. In fact, Pew Research reveals that in America, 'people drink three times as much coffee as tea,' perhaps because of the historical roots of Americans' 'aversion to tea.' After all, we found our freedom by ditching tea at the Boston Tea Party.