Caffeine is a big part of the lives of many adults. It’s the main reason coffee is so popular. Most people would find it very hard to believe that coffee gained its popularity because people actually enjoy drinking a cupful of bitter sludge. But hey, there’s no accounting for people’s taste.
More and more, we seem to be a civilization running on overdrive, trying to go faster, produce more and stay up longer. This is evident by the wide selection of energy drinks, energy pills and an ever increasing dosage of caffeine.
According to research published by the Mayo Clinic, an 8 oz. cup of Black tea contains 14-70 mg of caffeine. In comparison, an 8 oz. cup of brewed coffee contains 95-200 mg of caffeine. Quite a difference.
Now, before you start thinking you need to forgo your favored morning cup of tea for coffee, just so you can get that jolt you need to get the engine going again read on.
It’s true coffee does contain quite a bit more caffeine than tea, however, tea contains other natural stimulants that are similar to caffeine including theobromine, theophylline and xanthine.
With this being said, even though the overall stimulants in tea and coffee are technically identical, tea affects us in different ways.
An amino acid called L-theanine, found only in tea, reduces stress and promotes relaxation. It works with caffeine to calm the body without reducing the alertness caffeine produces. This allows tea drinkers to have the benefit of mental alertness and focus, without the jittery nervousness that caffeine is known for.
The next benefit tea holds over coffee is, the high levels of antioxidants found in tea slow down caffeine absorption. This provides a gentler increase of the chemical in the system and allows for a longer period of alertness with no crash at the end.
There is a myth that tea contains more caffeine than coffee. This is actually true if you measure coffee and tea in their dry forms. However, it is false when you are comparing the two after they have been brewed.
This is because we normally use 2 grams of tea to produce an 6 oz. cup because 8 oz. of water makes the tea too watered down. However, 10 grams of coffee is used to make the same size cup. This is the main reason there is such a difference in the amount of caffeine contained in each drink, you are using more coffee to produce the same size cup.
The amount of caffeine in either coffee or tea depends on several different factors, including the method and length of brewing and steeping. In regards to tea, studies also show that the location of the leaf on the plant affects the content of caffeine in that tea. The newest leaves, highest up on the plant, contain the greatest concentration of caffeine and antioxidants.
Water temperature and length of steeping time have the greatest impact on caffeine content in tea. With this being said, a tea that is steeped for five minutes in boiling water will transfer a lot more caffeine than tea that is steeped for two minutes.
Another myth, promoted by several tea retailers, is that oxidation increases the level of caffeine in tea. There is no scientific proof that this is true. This claim results from measuring the caffeine in the cup after typical brewing methods and incorrectly attributing that to the tea itself.
There is a lot of recent concern in the United States about the possible dangers of caffeine. Caffeine tolerance varies a lot among different individuals. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. It is a common misconception that people who are caffeine sensitive should only drink decaffeinated tea.
In fact, same as with coffee, decaffeinated tea is not caffeine free. It still contains 5-10 mg of caffeine per cup. A way to completely eliminate caffeine intake, is to drink herbal teas. All real tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, which contains caffeine naturally.
Herbal infusions, such as Chamomile, Rooibos and Peppermint, are made from botanicals which aren’t related to Camellia sinensis, and are naturally caffeine free.
There are a lot of different factors to consider if you are caffeine conscious in regards to coffee and tea. However, if you are looking for a pick me up, coffee isn’t your only option and that is what a lot of people are being lead to believe. You can get your daily pick me up, while still enjoying an amazingly flavorful drink.