I once heard that tea has more caffeine than coffee but never quite looked into it to see if the rumours were true. Now seems as good a time as any to ask Google what’s what. And in true new-age fashion, the answer is both yes and no.
Allow me to explain (thanks to my new TeaClass education on this subject).
In their dry form, tea does technically have more caffeine than coffee. However, you would normally use five times as much coffee to brew a cup as you would tea for the same quantity of water. A British study from 2004 found an average brewed cup of coffee to contain about 2.5 times the amount of caffeine found in an average cup of black tea.
In addition, other factors affect caffeine consumption in tea. Green and white teas are generally brewed at lower temperatures and for a shorter period of time, which extracts less caffeine. Tea also contains a lot of antioxidants, which slows the absorption of caffeine in the body and results in a gentler increase in alertness for a longer period of time, avoiding the crash at the end. Finally, unlike coffee, tea contains a specific amino-acid (L-theanine) that works in synergy with caffeine to calm the body without reducing caffeine alertness.
So, really, a brewed cup of tea has less caffeine than a brewed cup of coffee of equal size and it’s easier for the body to process.
Some other fun facts about caffeine in tea:
- caffeine was actually first discovered in tea and was called “theine” at the time. It was only when the caffeine found in coffee was found to be identical to that found in tea that the term was dropped;
- decaffeinated tea is not actually caffeine-free; it still contains 5-10mg of tea per cup (regular tea has 40mg);
- all real tea comes from the same plant: Camellia sinensis, which comes in two primary varieties used in tea cultivation.
For more information on these (and many other!) tea facts, visit the TeaClass tea eduction website. It is incredibly comprehensive and easy to digest.