Health, Nutrition & food, Physical, Wellness

Coffee or tea- what is healthier?

The battle of the beverages is here- and the contenders are the hearty brew of coffee or the steaming cup of tea. There seems to be no crisis that can’t be solved (or at least mitigated) without a hearty cuppa. Keeping personal preferences aside, we get to the bottom of this hot debate.

The numbers

In terms of popularity, tea is the most consumed beverage- right below water and above beer. The tea industry in India has pinned at an impressive Rs 1800 crore per annum. This against the fact that India’s per capita coffee consumption is a measly 60 mg. Even in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu which has a strong coffee culture to consume more tea than coffee.  225g of brewed coffee contains 85mg of caffeine against the 40 mg in tea.

Camp coffeeCamp coffee

It is an Ethiopian legend that a goat herder discovered coffee beans accidentally while out with his flock. The tale says that he was surprised when after eating berries from a shrub, his goat refused to sleep and began behaving oddly. Such is the effect of coffee.
The pros
Coffee is known to have a higher concentration of caffeine compared to tea which explains why the stimulating effects of coffee are more than that of tea. Scientists believe that the chemicals found in coffee can be used to help manufacture drugs for patients suffering from insomnia and heart diseases. Coffee may also protect you from gout- a disease that usually hits those above 40 leading to inflamed joints. Coffee acts as a guardian for your liver, protecting you from liver cirrhosis. Coffee contains fewer antioxidants than tea but is rich in quinine. It also contains trigonelline, an antibacterial compound that contributes to coffee’s delicious aroma.
The cons
Coffee can lead to raised levels of cholesterol and decreased blood flow to the heart. Of the 1000 known chemicals in coffee, 19 are carcinogens. Coffee intake even before pregnancy has been linked to increased stillbirths. It also causes tooth discolouration.


Ancient Chinese scholars used to keep sipping tea to keep their mind alert and so that they could meditate. Perhaps that is why tea is often associated with calmness and spirituality. All tea is derived from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis. These leaves are hand picked and on plucking get oxidized leading to wilting. Different types of tea- black, white, green- are characterized by the degree of oxidation the leaves undergo.
The pros
Tea drinkers can also rejoice in the realization that their odds of getting breast cancer or prostate cancer are lowered. The antioxidants in tea can also limit cell damage and even boost your immunity. It is theorized that theaflavins and Thea-Rubi gins in tea can protect your DNA from damage. Polyphenols in tea are also known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. The special polyphenol EGCG can also help prevent you getting Alzheimer’s disease. Drinking tea dehydrates calcium from accumulating in your arteries ensuring that your heart gets sufficient blood. Tea may also aid in your weight loss by inhibiting the formation of new fat cells. It is also linked with preventing type 1 diabetes. The soothing properties of tea are due to the fact that tea lowers the stress hormone cortisol.
The cons
Drinking tea too hot may be linked to oesophageal cancer. Tea contains tannins that absorb iron from your body. Severe iron deficiency can lead to anemia. Adding milk to tea- as is preferred by most Indians might just annihilate cancer-fighting properties.

The final verdict

teaTea acts as a wonderful way to rehydrate your body. It is packed with antioxidants and can increase your fluid intake. Caffeine, on the other hand, is known to dehydrate your body. Tea has abundant antioxidants packed into it whereas coffee is well depleted of them. Tea is also good for your dental health since it contains fluorides that are good for oral hygiene. This, unlike coffee that can stain and discolor your teeth.
But on the other hand increased intakes of both tea and coffee can lead to increased anxiety, tachycardia- an abnormally high heart rate, and even insomnia. So to be completely honest, loads of cream and sugar in your drink cause you greater damage than tea or coffee. Both have their own pros and cons but if taken in moderate amounts, you are good to go!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *