Is tea better for you than coffee? Does it contain more caffeine? Does it sell more worldwide? These are the questions that tea and coffee lovers want answers to, and ones that we’re more than happy to address. So, let’s pit coffee against tea and see which one comes out on top.
Caffeine in Black Tea versus Coffee
Coffee has more caffeine per cup than any kind of tea, while black tea has more caffeine than white, green, and red tea (the last of which is actually caffeine free and is harvested from a different plant than other types of tea).
There is about 4 times as much caffeine in the average cup of coffee than the average cup of green tea. There is about 3 times more caffeine in a cup of coffee than there is in a cup of black tea, which of course means that black tea has more than green tea, albeit not to the extent that many people believe. There is a misconception that green tea has a minimal amount of caffeine, but at around 30mg to 40mg per cup, it’s still enough to produce the stimulant effects and, if you have a caffeine sensitivity, to give you the jitters.
If you want to avoid caffeine but still want the benefits that drinking tea can bring, try red tea. This tea comes from a different plant than white, green, and black tea and is naturally caffeine free.
Speaking of which, white tea contains the same and sometimes more caffeine per cup than green tea, so this is not a great option for caffeine-sensitive drinkers either.
Doesn’t Tea Have More Caffeine Than Coffee?
This is a misconception, and it has been spread because there is some truth to it. If you compare the raw products on a pound-by-pound basis then there is more caffeine in tea. The problem lies within the way they are brewed. When you brew coffee, you extract most of the caffeine, whereas when you brew tea, a lot of it remains in the leaf.
If you steep tea for a really long time, you’ll understand what we mean. The tea will take on an incredibly dark colour not unlike that of coffee. This liquid will be rich in antioxidants and caffeine, but it will also be pretty unpalatable, something that even the most dedicated tea drinkers would turn their noses up at.
Is Coffee More Popular Than Tea?
It depends on where you are. The United States has more coffee drinkers than tea drinkers, but the US has one of the largest markets for bottled tea. Here in the United Kingdom, tea is by far the biggest drink, but iced tea and instant tea is not very popular at all, and thanks to the rise of chains like Starbucks and Costa Coffee, coffee is becoming more popular and tea sales are on the decline (herbal tea sales are on the up, thankfully!).
In countries like India and China, tea is the biggest drink, and these two countries make up a significant slice of the global population. However, they are not quite enough to topple coffee’s crown, because on a gram-by-gram basis, and in terms of revenue, coffee is well ahead. The issue with this statistic is that a cup of coffee contains about 7g of coffee beans, while tea contains about 3g of tea leaves.
Some sources claim tea is the most popular drink in the world, while more of them still put coffee ahead. There are a few things at play here, and it seems the ones listing coffee as the more popular drink are focusing on the weight of coffee sold worldwide as well as the value of the industry, whereas the ones that put tea ahead have calculated it on a cup-by-cup basis, or as close as they could get to calculating such a statistic. Make of that what you will. But in our eyes, it means the coffee industry is more lucrative, but there are more tea drinkers.
How Much is the Tea and Coffee Industry Worth?
On a global scale, both tea and coffee sales are growing year by year, and combined they are said to be worth over $260 billion.
Tea versus Coffee Health Benefits
Many positive studies exist regarding the health benefits of both tea and coffee, but there is a clear winner here: we have to give it to tea. It’s true that moderate coffee consumption can be healthy, but there are so many more benefits to drinking tea and there have even been studies to directly compare tea versus coffee health benefits.
The good news is that both drinks can be very healthy, and consumption of one or the other can improve your quality of life and your longevity when compared to drinking neither tea nor coffee. Tea is rich in antioxidants, and this applies to all forms of tea, not just green tea (although green tea does contain a very unique antioxidant that is super healthy). Tea drinkers live longer and have a reduced risk of cancer, strokes, and other fatal diseases. Tea also helps with bone density and has incredible anti-inflammatory properties.
According to a Harvard study, coffee drinkers also live longer, with a reduced risk of developing many diseases associated with premature death. Like tea, it’s also rich in antioxidants, but unlike tea, which has few (if any) side effects, coffee has been shown to raise cholesterol, and there are studies that have connected it to a reduction in bone density, although no conclusions have been made concerning how much or why.
Side Effects of Tea versus Coffee
We mentioned some issues with coffee above and suggested that tea is free of side effects. This is technically not true, as it can stain your teeth, which is not a huge issue but one that warrants a mention nevertheless. However, coffee has many more side effects. It is more acidic, which can cause more problems for drinkers with GERD and stomach issues; and it can also stain teeth.
Of course, both coffee and tea also contain caffeine, and there are side effects associated with this, especially for people who are sensitive. But tea doesn’t have nearly as much caffeine as coffee, which means tea is the better option again and the best option overall when it comes to heath benefits.
Tea versus Coffee Summary
We’re not going to point to any of these drinks as being the “better” choice because it’s a matter of opinion and taste. A lot of people prefer coffee, but tea is much better for you and still contains caffeine (which may be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you see it).
The good news here, and the best takeaway, is that both drinks are on the rise, both are good for you in several ways, and both taste great. So keep enjoying your favourite hot drink and stop worrying about which is the better option!