A study in the Netherlands showed that high and moderate consumption of tea and moderate coffee consumption are linked with reduced heart disease.
Tea also has polyphenols which are considered to reduce the risk of cancer but drinking too much increases the risk of liver damage.
Coffee apparently reduces the risk of getting type 2 diabetes and can cause sterility in men. Also the higher caffeine levels can cause headaches, constipation and general indigestion.
Caffeine is a stimulant to the heart and nervous system which is why it's such a good "wake up" drink. It can also increase blood pressure in the short-term. Not everyone can tolerate caffeine; pregnant women and children should avoid it or limit their intake.
But I'd heard there's actually more caffeine in tea than coffee?
Cup for cup, coffee will nearly always have more caffeine when compared to tea but what is also true is that tea leaves have more caffeine than coffee beans before they are brewed. When we make a cup of tea, the caffeine is diluted a lot more than in a cup of coffee and a lot of the tea's caffeine is held in the tea leaves so not actually ingested.
Here are some very approximate caffeine levels to compare:
- Cup of coffee: 80-185 mg (higher in filter coffee than instant)
- Cup of tea: 15-75 mg (less in oolong, green and white teas than in the more common black teas)
- Can of energy drink: 80 mg
- Can of cola: 40mg (Interesting, Diet Coke has more caffeine that regular Coke (47mg vs 35mg)
You should avoid drinking either tea or coffee around mealtimes as they can affect iron absorption because of the polyphenols that can bind to iron, as well as the caffeine.
For many they simply prefer the taste of tea or coffee and that's how they made the decision. But if it's the taste that attracts coffee drinkers there are a surprising number of additives than can be used to mask/alter the flavour from milks, creams, and simple sugar, to an incredible range of syrups and alcoholic options. And the number of sugars added can cause "The Look" when more than two are requested.
No Clear Winner
Tea and coffee are different drinks to different people. For some it's a caffeine hit and for others it's a reason to unwind. The cultural connotation associated with the drinks are fast-paced coffee and relaxing tea. Whenever a British person is worrying about a friend or an accident happens they rush to "put the kettle on" for a cuppa and that always means tea so it's seen as a comforting drink.
Do you have a strong opinion on tea or coffee? (Most people do!) Do share in Comments below.