A hot cup of tea makes everything better; it acts as a unifier and is a must when having a heart-to-heart conversation. It's a versatile beverage that can be consumed both hot and cold, with or without milk, steeped or boiled.
But how did tea come to be the highlight of conversations, societies and cultures across the world?
All tea comes from a single plant called The 'Camellia Sinensis' plant.
According to a legend, almost 5000 years ago, a leaf of this plant accidentally fell into the pot of boiling water of a Chinese Emperor. He was drawn to its pleasant aroma and took a sip, and found it refreshing! So he named this brew "ch'a", and the rest is history.
Until the 1800s, most of the world's tea came from China, but today it is cultivated in many countries, mainly China, India, Turkey, Kenya, and Sri Lanka.
From the humble black tea to the expensive Oolong tea, tea caters to a vast audience and is an integral part of our lives. Not just the older generation, even the younger generation has developed a liking and attachment to tea. From Green Tea, Milk Tea to an Iced Tea Latte, tea has a dedicated fan base, and rightly so!
But tea has intense competition in its rival ‘Coffee’. Even though tea has been around much longer, coffee is also one of the most common drinks consumed worldwide. No matter where your preference lies, it's easy to find many reasons why your preferred drink of choice is better than the other.
Let's compare them across various factors and check how one stands against the other to settle the debate.
- Tickle your taste buds
When we compare tea with coffee, the first factor that comes to mind is taste. Coffee of any variety has a bitter and bold flavour. In addition, it has a more acidic taste and, as a result, can be harsh on the stomach if consumed in excessive amounts.
There are so many tea varieties, and that's why tea comes in many flavour profiles, from earthy to fruity and even citrusy and floral taste. Black Tea and Oolong have the most prominent flavours, while Green has a slightly grassy and herbaceous flavour. So in the battle of taste and flavour, while coffee is more of an acquired taste, tea is a crowd favourite with its pleasing flavours.
Whatever beverage you choose, it's best to avoid adding sugar and artificial sweeteners in them to retain their nutritional benefits!
- Keep those energies up
Another deciding factor between tea and coffee is the caffeine content in both drinks. Before figuring out who wins, let's understand exactly what 'Caffeine' is and how it helps keep you alert and energized.
Caffeine has no nutritional value; it acts on a chemical front by blocking 'Adenosine', a neurotransmitter that signals your brain to relax and rest. It is one of the main reasons we consume tea or coffee early in the morning or whenever we feel sleepy, to get that boost of energy to keep you alert and focused.
We all know that coffee has more caffeine content than tea, and that's why it is the drink of choice for many of us, ahead of a long day! This is because we consume the whole bean, and coffee is brewed at a higher temperature than tea that releases more caffeine in your cup of coffee. An estimated 8 ounces of coffee has 90-100 milligrams of caffeine, while the same cup of tea has about 15-70 milligrams. The caffeine content in tea depends on its variety, so, Black Tea contains higher amounts of caffeine, similar to dark roasted coffee beans.
So how do we decide who wins? This, I think, is a matter of preference, and since some of us prefer that jolt of energy to function, coffee works in this category. But if you are someone who doesn't need that high, tea could be your best friend. So let's call it a draw, shall we?
- Rise and Chai
So, between tea and coffee, which one helps keep the energy up throughout the day?
You might think it's coffee because of its high caffeine content, but that does not show the whole picture.
Even though coffee gives that instant kick of alertness, its caffeine is quickly absorbed in the system. So the effects are temporary, and you might need that shot of Espresso or an Americano refill in the day!
On the other hand, tea has a slower and continuous effect because most teas contain an Amino acid called L-theanine. This amino acid slows down the absorption of caffeine in our bodies. In addition, it boosts alertness, so you feel focused and sharp for a longer time.
The winner of this round has to be tea since it gives a smoother and longer energy boost than coffee.
However, researchers at the University of Surrey in the UK concluded that tea drinkers have an easier time falling asleep than coffee drinkers, maybe because of higher levels of caffeine in the latter.
The clear winner of sleep quality is tea because let us be honest, sleep is essential.
- Health Benefits
As per multiple research articles and studies, both tea and coffee offer numerous health benefits.
Let's look at the foremost benefits of each of these drinks in short.
- Nutrient-rich – Besides caffeine, the coffee bean contains many essential nutrients beneficial for our body like Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, naturally occurring B vitamins and Antioxidants.
- Prevention from Type-2 Diabetes- As per a meta-analysis of over 20 studies, researchers believe the caffeine content of coffee helps inhibit insulin resistance. And with each coffee, the risk of developing diabetes is reduced by 7%.
- It also helps keep up your physical appearance because when you take that shot of Espresso or Americano before your workout, it boosts your Adrenaline so you can work out for longer.
- Antioxidant powerhouse: Tea is rich in antioxidants, which help fight many illnesses and diseases. Antioxidants improve organ function and work wonders for our bodies.
- Lower risk of certain cancers: Owing to tea’s higher antioxidant levels, which help fight free radicals, drinking tea can help reduce the risk of developing breast and liver cancers.
- Burn those calories – Yes, you read that right! Certain teas like Green Tea boost metabolism and aid in weight loss so that you can lose those extra pounds over a cup of tea!
Since both coffee and tea have tremendous benefits, let's call it a draw!
- A Cup of peace
Don't we all sip our favourite beverage hoping to find some peace and calm amid a hectic day? It turns out, both coffee and tea have remarkable mental health benefits. Both coffee and tea help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and help with depression. In addition, the Amino-acid L-theanine in tea stimulates the neurotransmitter GABA, improving brain function and anti-anxiety effects.
So whenever you are feeling down, a cup of positive tea is what you need!
With tea emerging as a clear winner in many aspects, let's get this part-tea started!