It appears that the two most competitive drinks that dominate a good majority of restaurants and cafes are none other than the infamous coffee and tea. Of all the drinks that exist out there in the world it appears that coffee and tea remain the two most potent drinks that many people enjoy whether it be hot or iced. It also seems to be the most popular beverages to pit against each other. You always hear someone ask “Coffee or tea?” and a good majority of the time, every person is always on one side or the other. It is like asking the question “Are you a dog person or a cat person?” They are two very different things yet share some similarities enough for them to be compared to one another. You will hear a lot of people say they prefer tea, others prefer coffee, some prefer none, and some love both. Yet we have to get done to a varying level of seriousness when asking this question of coffee vs. tea. Which one is honestly better? Which offers more nutritional benefits? Is there more variety in one than the other? What is the honest, factual answer to the commonly asked “Coffee or tea?” question. To answer this, we have to do some research on both beverages. Through this research you will actually find that they are way more similar to each other than most people let on.
What is Coffee?
Before we start comparing the two it is probably best that we get an idea of exactly what both drinks are made of exactly. We know them for what they are, but not many people get into the idea of where these delicious drinks come from and how they exist naturally within the world. Coffee can trace its origin to a genus of plants known as coffee. Experts have estimated that there are anywhere from 25 to 100 species of coffee plants that exist today. In the commercial coffee industry, the two most dominant coffee species are known as coffee arabica and coffee Robusta. The coffee arabica is a descendant of the original coffee trees that were discovered in Ethiopia. They tend to produce a type of coffee that is aromatic, fine, and mild. It is also the most popular type of coffee that exists out there and for this reason, it actually makes up about 70% of the world’s coffee production. The Robusta coffee bean exists in places such as Central and Western Africa, certain parts of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Brazil. The Robusta bean is not as popular as the Arabica bean and therefore only accounts for 30% of the world’s coffee market. It typically makes up various coffee blends and instant coffee. It tends to be rounder and smaller than the Arabica bean and is much easier to cultivate. Coffee exists from the coffee cherry. The beans that make up coffee are actually roasted seeds from a fruit known as the coffee cherry. A majority of the time, two coffee beans lie side by side inside a single coffee cherry. These beans are then taken and ground up where they can then be mixed with water to make various types of coffee such as espressos, americanos, and more.
What is Tea?
Like coffee, tea also comes from a plant. There tend to many tea varieties with the most popular ones being black, green, oolong, white, and Pu-erh. All tea varieties come from the same plant known as the Camellia sinensis. This is a sub-tropical evergreen plant that is native to Asia, but is now cultivated worldwide. The tea plant tends to grow best in conditions in which the soil is loose and deep, on a high altitude, and in a climate that is typically sub-tropical. The tea tends to grown on terrain that requires premium tea to be hand-plucked and it typically takes around 2,000 tiny tea leaves to make up just a single pound of tea.
Is One Healthier than the Other?
Lots of tea drinkers often advocate that tea is better for you than coffee. Many coffee drinkers would argue back and say that coffee can actually produce a wide array of benefits for you. Both are true. It is honestly quite difficult to pinpoint which one is healthier for you because that really depends on you. How you choose to consume your tea or coffee is going to have the greatest effect on how healthy or unhealthy your tea or coffee becomes. So, to try to level the field as much as possible we will examine some of the widely known benefits that come from drinking black coffee alone as well as black tea alone. It appears that both seem to have positive effects on the body in the sense that one can help reduce the risks of horrible diseases and illnesses. Lisa Cimperman, a clinical dietician at University Hospitals Case Medical Center has stated that studies have been done on the effect of tea and it appears that tea can be linked with lowering the risk of cancer, heart disease, help improve weight loss, and lead to a much stronger immune system. Yet, at the same time coffee also has its benefits in the sense that coffee can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, heart problems, and can also improve weight loss. With this in mind, it appears that both beverages are exceptionally great at providing health benefits for the body. They don’t necessarily provide the same health benefits, but they do provide a general health benefits, so by making the claim that one or the other is better, it would only have to be based off the fact that you perceive the health benefits of one to be more important to you than the health benefits of the other. This is purely subjective and based off opinion so examining the health benefits of both beverages won’t give us a factual answer of whether one is healthier than the other. Therefore, one cannot claim that coffee is healthier than tea or tea is healthier than coffee, because they both are healthy, they are just healthy for different reasons. To exemplify this, let’s look at the fact that studies done on the relationship between heart health and tea/coffee. An MD named Elliot Miller from the National Institutes of Health looked at signs of heart disease in more than 6,800 people from many different backgrounds across the country. 75% of those people drank coffee while about 40% of them drank tea. It appeared that drinking more tea seemed to link to less buildup of calcium in arteries that are designed to supply blood to the heart. This is extremely important in protecting against heart disease. While this was the case for those who drank tea, the same could not exactly be said for those who drank coffee. The results showed that coffee had no effect on heart health. It didn’t reduce the risk, but it definitely did not increase the risk either. In this example we see a situation in which tea seems to have a health benefit that coffee does not, but this isn’t always the case. In a study done by Charles Fuchs, a MD and director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, found that regular coffee drinking actually helped prevent against colon cancer returning after treatment. There was a significant and linear association between a lower risk of colon cancer returning and drinking about 4 cups of coffee a day. When drinking tea on the other hand, no effects were really recorded. So, in this case, coffee provided a health benefit that tea could not provide. By understanding these studies, it becomes quite evident that we really cannot write off one beverage being healthier than the other because it really just depends on what health benefits you perceive to be more important to you!
How Both Can Become Bad for You
To continue on the argument that tea and coffee are actually not too different from one another, it is also important to highlight the fact that both tea and coffee have the power to e both extremely healthy in their natural form and then be very bad for you when people get too creative with these beverages. For example, black coffee is great for you! It provides a lot of minerals, gives you a good boost of caffeine, boosts memory, cleanses the stomach, is beneficial for the liver, and so on! Yet, add in specific lattes, Frappuccino’s, macchiatos, and more, and these benefits appear to diminish. That is because these specific types of coffee drinks are factored in with a lot of fancy milk, sugars, syrups, toppings, etc. that increasingly diminish the health aspect and put you at risk for high caloric and sugar intake. In these cases, then, coffee really becomes bad for you; however, the same can also be said for tea. Ever heard of Boba drinks? A good majority of Boba drinks are made of tea and include things like milk tea, Thai tea, etc. Teas that are not the healthiest for you because they have high dairy contents and are packed with artificial sugar or sweetened condensed milk. Some people cannot handle their tea black and load up on sugar and various creams. This also negates the benefits that black tea can provide such as improving gut health, reducing blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke, lowering blood sugar levels, and more! So really in addition to the various health benefits that both black tea and coffee are uniquely knowing for providing, both can end up being very bad for you when consumed in not so healthy ways, further supporting the argument that coffee and tea may not be as different as you once thought them to be.
What Taste Suits You?
The other aspect of this debate to consider is the taste. Once again it is impossible to prove factually that either tea or coffee is tastier because that is a matter of opinion. It all starts with what taste you prefer to have. Many people love tea because of the taste it brings and many enjoy coffee because of the flavor it brings as well. For sure, these beverages do taste uniquely different so let’s break down the overall flavors of both coffee and tea. The smell of good coffee is typically known to have a strong potent smell that is both bitter but produces a sort of lingering sweetness throughout the air. The taste of coffee is known to be acrid (harsh and sour) but also mixed a bright, earthy, and sometimes caramelly flavor. Coffee contains a sort of fresh earth taste that is not too overbearing but subtle enough to taste both tropical and exotic. It can sometimes be reminiscent of a floral or herbal smell as well. Overall though the notes of coffee are more on the bitter side, with a hint of sweetness and cherry tasting as it lingers on the tongue. Tea on the other hand is not that bitter like coffee and this most likely due to the fact that tea has half the caffeine content as coffee. Black tea will not produce a harsh, acrid taste to the palate like coffee, rather it will produce a subtle grassy, Smokey, and slightly fruity presence instead. The smell is similar to when you smell your garden and is earthier than that of coffee. Of course, there are more varieties of tea than just black tea so the flavor profile of those can also be different from black tea. In all, the tastes of both coffee and tea are different from one another, but their tastes are not something you can factually states as being more delicious than the other.
Through presenting some of the similarities between tea and coffee, hopefully one can understand that the debate of tea or coffee is not black or white like asking whether apples or twinkies are better for you. Both are different in their tastes and the health benefits that they provide, but they are similar in the sense that both can be extremely healthy for you and extremely bad for you depending on how you choose to consume these beverages. In all, both are amazing choices that can be enjoyed iced or hot, with milk and other ingredients (for a sweet treat), and are surely good enough to satisfy your taste buds. Whether you are an avid tea drinker or an obsessive coffee drinker, both types of drinkers can revel in the fact that both of these beverages are great and refreshing choices and that is for sure factual!