Coffee Versus Tea

Tea and coffee are the most popular hot drinks in the world and are likely to remain so for many years to come. Tea drinkers often speak of their favorite beverage's soothing properties and health benefits while coffee drinkers appreciate the energizing effect afforded by a cup of "Joe". Here's how these two drinks compare to each other.


Coffee is made from the roasted seeds or beans of the coffee plant, a small tree or shrub that grows in over 70 countries, including Latin America, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa. It is believed to have originated in the Arab world in the 15th century. Today, coffee is one of the world's most valuable and widely traded commodities.

Coffee is brewed in a number of ways, including percolation, dripping hot water through grains, French press immersion, or simply adding grains directly to a pot of water and boiling.


Tea is made from the cured leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which grows in tropical and sub-tropical climates. The biggest tea-producing countries/regions are China, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Japan, and east Africa. After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world.

There are four main types of tea: green tea, black tea, oolong tea and white tea. All tea comes from the same plant. The variety of tea plant and processing determine the type of tea. For example, black tea is made from leaves that are wilted and oxidized. White tea is made from unwilted and unoxidized leaves.

The traditional method of making tea is to place tea leaves, either directly or in a tea infuser, into a pot or cup and pour hot water over the leaves. The tea is then allowed to steep for several minutes before serving.

Caffeine Content

Coffee contains roughly twice as much caffeine as tea although the actual amount varies widely based on factors such as the type of bean, roasting, grinding, and brewing time. An 8 ounce serving of generic brewed coffee contains anywhere from 80 to 200 mg of caffeine. An 8 ounce serving of Dunkin Donuts coffee has just over 100 mg of caffeine.

The caffeine content in tea is also affected by a number of factors including brewing time, brewing temperature, tea grade and tea variety. Black tea generally has 40 to 60 mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving (although it can be as high as 120 mg). Green tea and white tea have less caffeine than black tea.

Iced tea generally has less caffeine than hot tea. For example, an 8-oz serving of Arizona Iced Tea (black) only has 16 mg of caffeine. Their green tea version has 8 mg of caffeine.

Health Benefits

There is a growing body of evidence that coffee and tea are both good for you but in different ways. In particular, coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes, dementia, Parkinson's, asthmam gallstones, certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes.

Compared to coffee, tea has a larger number of beneficial antioxidants such as plant polyphenols, flavonoids, catechins, and tannins. White tea has the most, followed by green tea, and then black tea. Antioxidants prevent inflammation of blood vessels, and have been linked to reduced risk for cancer.

Like coffee, tea has a stimulating effect due to the caffeine content although it is a gentler lift. Tea also has a calming, soothing effect that helps to relieve unhealthy stress.

Tooth Staining

Coffee and tea, especially black and green tea, can cause tooth discoloration. To minimize tooth staining, consume no more than 1 to 2 cups of either type of drink per day and brush immediately after finishing the drink.

Other Considerations

Reheated coffee does not taste nearly as good as a freshly brewed batch because coffee loses its flavor and aroma within about half an hour after being brewed. It also develops a bitter, acidy taste. Tea tends to fare better when reheated.

Coffee breath tends to be more objectionable than tea breath to non-drinkers. Keep this is mind - especially on a first date!