There’s nothing quite like a hot cup of tea or coffee to jumpstart your day. But what’s the difference between these two beloved beverages? If you’re worried about your caffeine intake, keep reading to discover what’s healthier when it comes to caffeine in tea vs coffee.
When morning comes, many of us go to the kitchen to get our caffeine fix, but we’re left wondering whether to choose tea or coffee.
Although both are caffeinated drinks, the two beverages have their benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a closer look at caffeine in tea vs coffee.
|Caffeine in Coffee
|Caffeine in Tea
|Concentration in beverage
|22–74 mg per serving
|115–175 mg per serving
|Concentration in dry mass
|Tea leaves contain 3.5% caffeine
|Coffee beans contain 1.1–2.2% caffeine
Table of Contents
- Everything you need to know about caffeine
- Caffeine in coffee
- Caffeine in tea
Everything You Need to Know about Caffeine
You’re probably reading this article to understand which of the two beverages provides the most caffeine or is the healthiest.
To do that, let’s first understand what caffeine is and how it works.
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant that occurs naturally in both tea and coffee beans. It’s what gives these beverages their characteristic pick-me-up effect.
The substance is considered safe by the US Food and Drug Administration. Although, like all stimulants, there are thresholds you should never exceed.
For example, a study reported that 400 mg of caffeine every day would not pose any threat to a non-pregnant adult, while pregnant women can have daily intakes of up to 200 mg per day.
As a point of reference, a regular cup of coffee can contain between 80 and 175 mg of caffeine, which depends on the bean, roast, and brewing method.
How It Works
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, leading to increased alertness and energy levels.
It blocks adenosine, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleepiness. It’s why we often turn to caffeine to stay awake and focused.
- Better memory
- Improved alertness
- Increased physical endurance
- Gastrointestinal issues
How to Avoid Caffeine Overdosing
- Be mindful of drinks with hidden caffeine, such as energy drinks, soft drinks, and some medications.
- Try not to drink caffeine late in the day, as its effects can linger and keep you awake at night.
- If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, limit your caffeine intake.
How Caffeine Is Extracted from Tea and Coffee
In both cases, caffeine is extracted due to the hot water coming into contact with the solids added to the brewing vessel.
In coffee, the water quickly reaches temperatures high enough to cause the caffeine and other compounds to be released from the grounds.
Meanwhile, in tea, the leaves are slowly submerged in water and allowed to steep for a while.
Caffeine in Coffee
Let’s take a closer look at coffee’s caffeine contents.
How It Works
Since coffee has a higher concentration of caffeine than tea, it takes less time for the stimulant to enter the bloodstream and start working.
Not only that but the caffeine can be more or less diluted, depending on the cup size or brew type.
That’s why we sometimes feel a stronger kick from a single espresso than from a large cup of drip-brew coffee, even though drip-brew has more caffeine.
One way to lessen the sudden surge of energy brought on by caffeine is to drink coffee with cream or milk; the fat content significantly reduces the caffeine’s absorption rate into the bloodstream. Alternatively, you should drink coffee while eating a meal high in fat, protein, or both.
Best Coffee for Caffeine Addicts
The following aspects influence your coffee’s caffeine contents:
- Beans – Robusta beans generally contain more caffeine than Arabica beans.
- Roast level – Lighter roasts have higher caffeine levels than darker roasts, although this difference is more noticeable when comparing light roasts with very dark roasts.
- Brewing method – A longer brewing time extracts more caffeine from the beans. For example, espresso has less caffeine than drip-brew coffee because it takes less time to make.
If you’re out shopping for coffee with a powerful kick, check out these brands:
- Death Wish Coffee – Best high-caffeine coffee beans
- Lavazza Espresso Barista Gran Crema – Best for espresso machines
- Perfect Samplers High-Caffeine Coffee Pods Variety Pack – Best high-caffeine pods
Caffeine in Tea
Now, let’s see how much caffeine is there in tea.
How It Works
Tea contains more caffeine than a coffee per unit of weight. Still, many caffeine addicts prefer coffee. So you might be wondering why:
- How tea leaves are treated after harvesting can affect the caffeine content: black tea, green tea, white tea, and so on.
- The number of leaves used when brewing the tea also has ab impact on the caffeine content, just like adding more coffee grounds results in a stronger coffee.
- The brewing method may affect the caffeine concentration in your cup of tea.
The hot water used for tea rarely (if ever) reaches the temperatures of coffee machines, so less caffeine will be extracted.
That’s why boiling water creates stronger tea, while cold-brew tea contains very little or no caffeine.
With so many variables, it’s no wonder that people prefer coffee since it’s easier to make, even coffee types that requires a more hands-on approach, such as pour-over coffee.
Best Tea for Caffeine Addicts
Leaves can greatly impact the amount of tea caffeine, even those harvested from the same plant:
- Black tea – leaves are oxidized and dried, leading to a higher concentration of caffeine that’s also easier to extract.
- Green tea – leaves are simply withered and dried, resulting in lower caffeine contents.
- White tea – leaves are semi-oxidized, so the caffeine level will be somewhere between black and green tea.
So, to make the strongest tea, you need to boil black tea leaves and use as many as possible. Or, if you prefer the weakest tea to limit your caffeine intake, be sure to cold-brew white tea leaves and use as little of them as possible (just enough to add flavor).
If you’re looking for excellent tea choices that can help you with your caffeine cravings, check these out:
- Bigelow Constant Comment Caffeinated Black Tea Bags – Best black tea bags
- Stash Tea Organic Breakfast Blend Black Tea – Best loose leaf tea
- The Tea Republic Black Tea – Best flavored black tea
Caffeine in Tea vs Coffee (FAQ)
Discover more useful information about caffeine in tea vs coffee:
Are tea caffeine and coffee caffeine different?
In chemical composition, caffeine in tea and coffee is the same. But it varies by concentration – coffee generally has more caffeine than tea.
Which has higher caffeine, tea or coffee?
Coffee has a significantly higher caffeine concentration than tea. But tea leaves have almost twice the amount of caffeine as coffee beans per unit of weight.
Does caffeine have any other names?
Yes, caffeine is also known as guaranine, methyltheobromine, 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, 7-methyltheophylline, and theine.
Can you overdose on caffeine?
Yes. A fatal amount of caffeine has been reported at 80 to 100 micrograms/ml blood levels, which might be obtained from ingesting around 10 grams or more.
Caffeine in Tea vs Coffee (Verdict)
So, which one should you choose?
Coffee is probably the better choice if you need a quick caffeine fix. It’s also easier to make, and there are more ways to customize the strength of your cup.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something a bit healthier and less acidic, tea might be the way to go. It also has a wider range of flavors, so you can find something that suits your taste buds perfectly.
In the end, it all comes down to personal preference, so try out both and see which one you like best.