Tea vs. coffee — it's an argument as old as time. 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.
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. One cup of black tea contains about 50 mg of caffeine, whereas a cup of brewed coffee contains about 95 mg. 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. Tea also contains a powerful substance called l-theanine, which helps to balance caffeine levels, promote calmness, and even improve brain function. 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.
Tea and coffee are also both touted as containing nutrients that are beneficial for your health. 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. All tea made from the tea plant Camellia sinensis contains antioxidants, meaning that black, green, and white tea can all be great 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.
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. Tea has been shown to be helpful in boosting your immune system, protecting your body against heart disease, and lowering the risk of certain cancers, particularly skin, breast, and prostate cancer. Because it’s a low or no-calorie way to enjoy a flavored beverage and because certain teas like green tea can help to boost your metabolism, tea can also be helpful in supporting your body in maintaining a healthy weight and staying hydrated. Tea is also beneficial for your bones, with regular tea drinkers having higher bone density levels and lower rates of bone loss associated with aging. Tea can also be great for brain health, helping to boost focus. Coffee, on the other hand, has been shown to be helpful in reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, and heart problems. Coffee also has brain benefits, and has even been linked with a lower rate of depression.
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.
Are you a coffee lover looking to try tea? Here are our favorite teas for coffee lovers:
- Teeccino Maca Chocolate or Dandelion Dark Roast
- Soul Maté Mocha Organic Yerba Maté Blend
- Rishi Mushroom Hero
- Churchill’s Fine Teas Java Mate Tea
- DAVIDsTEA Coffee Pu'erh
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.