Tea and coffee are common beverages that people drink regularly to feel less sleepy, thanks to their caffeine content. Question is, which drink has higher caffeine content? Knowing how much tea caffeine vs coffee can help you decide what to drink at any time of the day.
There is a common belief among coffee and tea drinkers that coffee has higher caffeine levels than caffeinated teas. Is this true? If you feel more perked up drinking coffee than tea, does this mean coffee has more caffeine than tea? Today we take a closer look at the caffeine levels of these two beverages and their health effects.
What is Caffeine?
Pure caffeine is a white, odorlous, chemical compound naturally found in seeds, leaves, and fruits, typically in coffee beans, cocoa, yerba mate, and leaves of the tea plant.
While it has a bitter taste that’s supposed to deter insects and animals from eating these plants, most of us enjoy drinking tea and coffee to keep us awake. Caffeine works as a drug or stimulant to the central nervous system and makes one feel more alert and energizedhttps://archive.org/details/100mostimportant0000myer/page/54/mode/2up.
Caffeine is commonly known to cause changes in one’s perception, judgment, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behavior. However, not everyone feels the same way when consuming tea and coffee. As such, caffeine has varying effects on different individuals.
How Much Caffeine is in a Cup of Tea?
In general, when steeped for 3 minutes, an average cup of tea (177 milliliters or 6.0 US fl oz) contains about 22 to 74 milligrams of caffeinehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caffeine#Chemistry. In other words, it’s best to drink up to only five cups of tea per day to stick to moderate consumption levels of caffeine.
That said, this is just an average estimation. The actual caffeine levels of your tea will depend on several factors:
Type of tea
All tea is produced from the Camellia Sinensis plant, and there are more than 3000 types of teas. Not all teas have the same caffeine level. Different teas go through different production processes, leading to their varying caffeine levels. True teas have different caffeine levels than herbal teas which come from different plant species. Yerba mate or maté and roasted maté teas contain the least caffeine content.
Caffeine Levels in Different Types of Brewed Tea
In a study by the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, a standardized brewing process was carried out on different types of tea of varying commercial tea brands, namely: Bigelow, Lipton, Stash, Tazo, Twinings, and Two Leaves and a Budhttps://academic.oup.com/jat/article/32/8/702/829967.
Here are the findings when all teas were steeped for 5 minutes:
An Average Cup of Black Tea (Lipton Regular)
47 milligrams of caffeine per 6 oz
An Average Cup of White Tea (Exotica China White)
47 milligrams of caffeine per 6 oz
An Average Cup of Green Tea Leaves (Tazo China Green Tips)
41 milligrams of caffeine per 6 oz
An Average Cup of Lipton Decaf
3.1 milligrams of caffeine per 6 oz
An Average Cup of Bigelow Cranberry Apple Herb Tea
0 milligrams of caffeine (no caffeine detected) per 6 oz
An Average Cup of Oolong Tea
It’s been found in a study by Food Research International that an average cup of oolong tea contains 23.8 milligrams of caffeine per gram of teahttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0963996996000385.
In general, with a steeping time of 5 minutes, the caffeine content of tea ranges between 3.1 to 61 mg.
Brewing Time and Serving size
It’s proven that the preparation method of all teas affects caffeine content. The same study also tested steeping tea bags or loose leaf tea at different lengths of time with different amounts of hot water. It was found that longer steep times with larger serving sizes increase the caffeine content in a cup of tea.
The amount of caffeine you consume in a day also depends on the number of cups of tea you drink.
How Much Caffeine is in Coffee Brews?
Unlike teas, there are not as many types of coffee. There are several variations but mainly only two major types of coffee are commonly grown: C. arabica and C. robusta.
Coffee preparation method
A study was done by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and different preparation methods resulted in the following caffeine content respectivelyhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/762339/:
A Cup of Brewed Coffee
80 to 135 milligrams of caffeine per 200 mL (7 US fl oz)
A Cup of Drip Coffee
115 to 175 milligrams of caffeine per 200 mL (7 US fl oz)
A Cup of Espresso
100 milligrams of caffeine per 45 to 60 mL (1+1⁄2 to 2 US fl oz)
For the same coffee type and serving, the caffeine content can vary from 80 to 300 milligrams depending on preparation methods or brewing process.
Coffee Brewing Process
A study done by MDPI found that the caffeine level in your cup of coffee also varies based on the brewing process it undergoeshttps://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/10/6/1208/htm:
- When brewing coffee with a water temperature higher than 90 °C, the caffeine content increases with increasing temperature.
- The more coffee used in relation to the amount of water leads to more caffeine content.
- Cold brew coffee contains high caffeine levels.
- Robusta coffee poured with cold water and boiled has the most caffeine.
Caffeine Levels in an Average Cup of Coffee
A Cup of Decaf Coffee
2-15 milligrams per 8 US fl ozhttps://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much
A Cup of Coffee Brewed from Grounds
*95 milligrams per 8 US fl oz
Other Factors that may Influence Coffee’s Caffeine Content
- Place of cultivation and conditions
- Processing of the beans
- Time and conditions of storage
- Method of measurement
What are the Effects of Caffeine?
Consuming a moderate amount of caffeine could be enough to cause some effects on your body. If you happen to drink something that has high amounts of caffeine, large doses may amplify these effects or even cause you to react to it negatively.
Here are some adverse effects of caffeine overdose on the human body based on the study done by the Nutrition Food & Science Journalhttps://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/NFS-05-2017-0100/full/html:
- Hormone-related cancers
- This leads to high blood pressure
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Anxiety and insomnia
- Increase risk of diabetes
- Leads to osteoporosis
- Worsens stomach ulcers
- Increases respiratory rate
- This leads to sleep disruptions in pregnant women
- Risk of low birth weight of infants
- Nutrient malabsorption
- Caffeine agitation
- Increases risk of cardiovascular diseases
- Increases risk of heart disease
Does Caffeine Promote Health Benefits?
Caffeine is not all bad, the same study has shown that moderate and safe consumption of caffeine in tea has some beneficial effects on healthhttps://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/NFS-05-2017-0100/full/html. Here are some health benefits:
- Increases alertness, psychomotor and brain function
- Reduces risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Protective effect against Parkinson’s disease
- Lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Reduces risk of liver injury
- Promotes weight loss
- Relieve pain
What is an Acceptable Amount of Caffeine to be Consumed
Although it’s not clear how much caffeine is a safe amount for healthy adults, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists 400 mg per day “as an amount not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects”.https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/spilling-beans-how-much-caffeine-too-much
Tea Caffeine vs Coffee – Who Wins?
When it comes to caffeine in tea vs coffee, the overall winner is non-other than coffee. In general, most brewed teas contain less caffeine per serving than brewed coffee. While decaffeinated brewed teas tended to have higher caffeine concentrations than brewed decaffeinated coffees (per oz), but lower than decaffeinated espresso.https://academic.oup.com/jat/article/32/8/702/829967 If you wish to get more accurate estimates of caffeine intake, you have to consider the preparation method and quantity of both beverages.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/762339/