Tea vs Coffee - Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

tea vs coffee

Tea vs. coffee — it's an argument as old as time. Whether it’s for the caffeine boost or for the morning pick-me-up, everyone knows someone who swears on one or the other. But are tea and coffee really that different?

But which reigns supreme, bean water or leaf water? The truth is, each beverage has its benefits. Tea offers a lot more variety in terms of flavor, from white teas to black teas to herbal blends. You’re much more likely to find a tea that works for you, no matter your flavor preferences. Coffee can be a bit trickier: if you’re just not a fan of its bitter flavor, there’s not as much variety.

Sips by is a personalized tea discovery subscription. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Members receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more about our tea subscription service.

Caffeine Content

Caffeine is something that is often mentioned when comparing tea and coffee. The average cup of black tea contains less caffeine than coffee, but both coffee and tea can provide a caffeine boost.

If you drink your morning eight-ounce cup of coffee for the energy boost, you might be better off sticking with it. Although coffee consumption and tea drinking both get you caffeine, the amount of caffeine in coffee is almost double what even the strongest black teas have.

To put it in perspective, the average cup of brewed coffee contains 96 milligrams of caffeine. If you prefer a latte or americano, the average shot of espresso contains 64 mg of caffeine. Meanwhile, an average cup of black tea contains 47 mg, and green tea contains 28 mg. White tea contains very little caffeine at all.

If you’re someone who is sensitive to caffeine, tea can be a better choice, as herbal and rooibos teas are completely caffeine-free, whereas both decaffeinated tea and coffee can contain trace amounts of caffeine.

But there’s something else to consider: the difference in the way that caffeine is absorbed in your body depending whether you’re sipping on coffee or enjoying a cup of tea. About 95% of the caffeine in coffee is absorbed into the bloodstream in about 15 minutes, whereas the caffeine in tea is absorbed more slowly and consistently, which can help you feel a little more even keeled.

All About L-Theanine

Although a cup of tea contains less caffeine than a cup of Joe, tea actually contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which may help promote improved mental focus and better sleep quality. This helps you experience the effects of caffeine intake without the jittery side effects.

This means that energy-wise, coffee is great when you need an instant boost, such as before a workout, whereas tea can be a better sip if you’re looking for more sustained energy levels with no drop-off.

If you’re prone to caffeine jitters or crashes after a strong cup of coffee, you may want to consider switching to tea. We recommend Walters Bay English Breakfast tea bags. This tea is a balanced mix of sweet and tart, and it may help boost your energy levels thanks to its slowly absorbed caffeine content.

Health Benefits

Tea and coffee are also both touted as containing nutrients that are beneficial for your health.

Both tea and coffee contain trace amounts of micronutrients – AKA, the amount of nutrients is too small to really have a large effect on your overall health. However, both are rich in antioxidants, which are powerful compounds that help protect your body’s cells from damage, and are found in many nutrient-rich foods.

Antioxidants, Tea, and Coffee

Antioxidants are compounds that round up and neutralize free radicals. Although the concepts of free radicals and antioxidants are relatively new in science, we know that free radicals are bad news for your health.

All teas come from plants called camellia sinensis sinensis (small-leaf) and camellia sinensis (large-leaf), which contain antioxidants like polyphenols, flavonoids, and catechins (although, it’s worth noting here we aren’t talking about herbal teas like lavender, chamomile, and mint). All tea made from the tea plant Camellia sinensis contains antioxidants, meaning that black, green, and white tea can all be sources of antioxidants.

In fact, one cup of tea can contain ten times as many antioxidants as food. Green and black tea themselves also contain different antioxidants than are naturally found in food, and this variance can help to support your health in different ways.

Green tea in particular contains a high contraction of the polyphenol EGCG, which can help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

Coffee also contains antioxidants, especially flavonoids, at a higher concentration than tea (almost two and a half times as a cup of black tea). So, while coffee and tea differ in the types of antioxidants they contain, the bottom line is that all of these polyphenols have amazing benefits for your body, especially reducing the risk of heart disease, meaning that both of them can provide your body with a boost.

Other Benefits

In addition to antioxidants, both tea and coffee are high in a number of other nutrients. Coffee contains nutrients like potassium, manganese, magnesium, and niacin.

Green and black tea, on the other hand, are high in vitamins C, D, and K and riboflavin. Because of these nutrients, both tea and coffee offer unique health benefits.

Because it’s a low or no-calorie way to enjoy a flavored beverage, tea can also be helpful in supporting your body in maintaining a healthy weight and staying hydrated.

Tea can also be great for brain health, helping to boost focus.

Of course, coffee and tea are only as healthy as the additives you use. If you’re enjoying coffee or tea with your health in mind, consider the amount and type of sweeteners and creamers you are using.

The bottom line? Both tea and coffee have their own health benefits, and both can be a part of a healthy diet, so choose whichever you prefer. Plus, both tea and coffee have social benefits as well. Grabbing a cup of coffee or tea with a friend or taking a moment to yourself with a warm mug of your favorite warm beverage can have benefits beyond just what’s inside your mug.


Many coffee drinkers love the bitter taste of coffee beans. Something about a bitter, hot drink in the morning just wakes us right up — even decaf coffee can be a bit invigorating. The good news is that tea leaves compare pretty closely to coffee in flavor.

While coffee has a more earthy flavor, tea’s flavor is better described as herbal and tart. Just like coffee, different teas feature different flavors. While coffee comes in flavors like hazelnut, vanilla, and chocolate, teas come with all kinds of tastes. You can get fruity teas, herb-y teas, earthy teas, sweet teas, and even floral teas.

Alongside their different flavors, teas have different intensities. They’re similar to coffee, which comes in light roast, medium roast, and dark roast. Instead of being categorized by roast, teas have different levels of oxidation, which result in white tea, green teas like matcha, oolong tea, and black tea — and a ton of other tea types.

The higher your tea’s oxidation, the darker and richer your tea’s flavor will be. Of course, there are other variables that determine tea type and taste, too. Think: processing methods, the camellia sinesis variety, growing conditions, and harvest season. All of these factors come together to create eight distinct tea types, each with individual and beautiful variations that create your favorite tea tastes.

If you like to alter the taste and texture of your drink, you can use cream and sugar in both coffee and tea to adjust them to your taste buds. This can help add in some sweetness and heaviness to your drink.

For a naturally sweet tea, we recommend Offblak Sweet Bliss, which is basically a berry tart in a cup. For the coziest results, pair with an actual berry tart and a good book.

Coffee Alternatives Tea Box

Are you a coffee lover looking to try tea? Ready to ditch the bean? Looking to turn over a new leaf this year? Sips by is here to help you build and sustain new habits in the new year.

If you’re thinking about switching to tea, check out our Coffee Alternatives Box. This box features both caffeinated and caffeine-free options for the prospective tea drinker. In fact, each tea in this box is designed to appeal to coffee drinkers. Whether in taste, in caffeine levels, or in texture, these teas have you covered.

Whether you’re looking to kick your coffee habit once and for all, or you’re just looking for an alternative source of caffeine to perk up your mornings, this box is for you. We've selected teas that can rival the bold and roasty flavors of your morning cup of coffee, but without the acidity and intensity.

The Takeaway

We’ve heard every argument in the book for whether coffee or tea is the best morning beverage, but we believe that they can coexist peacefully. Coffee and tea both contain caffeine, both have health benefits, and both have signature tastes. It just makes sense to enjoy the best of both worlds!

For more tea content, check out our blog or follow us on social media – or feel free to browse our website for your next favorite teas!

Interested in trying these teas and others? Subscribers receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more about our tea subscription box or explore the loose leaf tea shop.

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About Sips by: We’re a female-founded and led startup that makes discovering tea fun, personalized, and affordable. The Sips by Box is the only multi-brand, personalized tea subscription box. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Based out of Austin, Texas, we are adept at savoring a hot mug even when it’s seasonally inappropriate.