Coffee or Tea Which is the better drink?

Imagine yourself in the line-up of your favourite coffee shop, the morning rush is just getting started and you’re a few customers away from reaching the barista, but you still haven’t decided what to order.

You want to stay awake in class or at work, and you certainly don’t feel like splurging on a sugary five-dollar Christmas latte, so you decide to do both your wallet and your body a favour and choose tea.

You ask the barista for an earl grey tea. As you leave the aroma of coffee behind, you sip your tea and feel you have made the right choice for today, but tomorrow will be another opportunity.

Coffee and tea have been in tough competition with each other over the years. The two drinks can be hard to choose between, or maybe easy, depending on the situation

Over 300 Carleton University students took a poll on facebook asking whether they prefer to drink coffee, tea, or both.

Over the years, the popularity of both drinks has grown, as well as the companies that sell them. Major companies such as Starbucks and DavidsTea are continually expanding into other countries.

This rising demand for coffee and tea is also part of the consumeristic lifestyle that is important to capitalistic society. Buying things, such as a hot drink, is encouraged in order to show a certain status.

Starbucks has become a status symbol and a large part of the consumeristic lifestyle

Both drinks have major health benefits, whether drunk hot or cold, with the added bonus of caffeine for those who need help waking up or staying awake. However, many people aren’t aware of these benefits when they choose coffee or tea.

For consumers today, price has become a major factor in choosing a drink, especially for those who frequently visit cafes across the city rather than making the drink at home. The health benefits aren’t the only factors people consider when choosing tea or coffee.

Health Benefits of coffee and tea

When you think about it, do you really need a better excuse to drink coffee or tea other than loving the way they taste? Some people may see the health benefits as a bonus to their already daily routine of drinking coffee or tea.

In the light of staying as healthy and happy as possible, it wouldn’t hurt to see what these two magical drinks can do for your body.

Coffee’s health benefits seem to focus on disease prevention, which is important when looking ahead to later years in life. So could today’s coffee be worth years of health in the future?

Coffee health benefits focus on disease prevention within the body

“Coffee can lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and type 2 diabetes compared to non-coffee drinkers,” said Shawn Steiman.

The drink also has a positive effect on liver function, while reducing the risk of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. These results can also be found in studies done by Harvard University and Center 4 Research.

Steiman, owner of Daylight Mind Coffee Company and Coffea Consulting in Hawaii, has his doctorate in coffee science.

In regards to the other cup, tea focuses on making the body better with antioxidants. “These benefits are supported mostly in teas such as black, oolong, green, and white tea,” said Jane Skapinker, Carleton University’s dietician with Aramark Dining Services.

Skapinker said: “Antioxidants are substances that protect our cells from free radical damage and may have a protective affect against many chronic illnesses.”

The well-known loose-leaf tea company, DavidsTea has become the face for the tea revolution. Starting in 2008, it was the first company to sell over 160 kinds of specialty loose-leaf teas, including different flavours that contain antioxidants.

DavidsTea open since 2008, focuses on selling loose-leaf tea in over 160 varieties for every need

“So instead of fruit juices, people want to do a fruit tea instead. It’s significantly less sugar.” – Charmaine Trudell

More people are looking to live a healthy lifestyle, and many are choosing matcha, green tea, and other teas for their detoxifying benefits. There are even more teas which help when you are feeling sick, bloated, or need a kick of energy to keep going.

Charmaine Trudell has worked at DavidsTea for over a year, and her peers call her the tea expert. She said that many people are trying to get away from coffee and watching their caloric intake. So those who love lattes, but hate the sugar they contain (many medium flavoured lattes contain around 40-60 grams of sugar and about 200 calories) have another drink they can fall back on.

Here's a look into the interview with Charmaine Trudell and a little bit about DavidsTea.

Trudell added that more people are watching their caloric intact: “So instead of fruit juices, people want to do a fruit tea instead. It’s significantly less sugar.” Many juices contain around nine grams of sugar per serving, whereas tea contains zero grams, unless sugar is added by choice.

Tea is a more desirable drink health-wise compared to juice, but coffee is still in the running for its impressive disease prevention benefits.

Caffeine in coffee and tea

The well-known and widely loved caffeine fix has been cherished and praised for its ability to help people roll out of bed and start the day, no matter hour early or tough it is.

“Coffee has always been drunk for its caffeine and it always will be” – Shawn Steiman

Caffeine is the primary reason many people drink coffee whether it be to wake up or stay awake

The joy of coffee is that the caffeine can be useful for all hours of the day. It may not be the wisest choice for those who actually want to sleep, but numerous students around the globe use coffee as a staple to get through school.

When drinking coffee close to bedtime, the effect can result in poor quality and low quantity of sleep. Poor sleep can negatively impact the ability to focus on tasks of the day, and in many cases, this fatigue leads to drinking more coffee. Skapinker said this can create a cycle that is hard to break away from.

As Steiman said, caffeine is a stimulant and, in the short term, increases your heart rate and blood pressure. “Coffee has always been drunk for its caffeine and it always will be,” he said.

Coffee offers more than just the caffeine to keep students awake, it is also seen to enhance short-term memory. So for those who procrastinate and cram the night before a test, coffee can help you absorb and retain more information.

“[Coffee] can enhance physical endurance along with short-term, high-intensity physical performance,” Steiman added.

Coffee is seen as a saviour by many thanks to its high dose of caffeine, but remember that certain types of tea can help overcome sleepiness too.

Tea has a lower caffeine quantity compared to coffee, about one-third less than coffee. In figures, brewed coffee has about 80-179 milligrams of caffeine per 8oz cup, while black tea has only 43-50 milligrams per 8oz cup. Green teas have even less caffeine at around 25-45 milligrams per cup, but still rise above herbal tea, which contains no caffeine.

Prices of coffee and tea

With all the coffee shops around the world, coffee and tea are easier to come by and enjoy.

“Relative to other luxury items, especially luxury foods like wine and chocolate, coffee is fairly cheap,” said Steiman.

Coffee has evolved from simple brews, Americanos, and espressos, to flavoured lattes and Frappuccino’s. “There’s a wider range of coffee qualities and flavours than ever before,” said Steiman.

Many can find a regular brewed coffee for around $2, whereas specialty lattes, including those which are seasonal, cost around $5 a cup.

For coffee, the prices can widely vary whether you like plain coffee or flavoured and made with steamed milk. Tea is somewhat different because once you buy one in a coffee shop, you can usually ask to refill your cup with more hot water and save twice the amount of money.

Depending on the tea, one can get 50 grams of loose-leaf for around $7 to $20 for basic or rare tea. The tea can last for about 20-25 cups of tea depending on the personal preferences for the strength of flavour.

Tea bags are sometimes preferred due to their convenience. The average amount for 72 tea bags is $4.51 according to Statistics Canada. Buying teabags is the cheaper way to go, but you do sacrifice the freshness, taste, and a wide range of flavours that loose-leaf tea can offer.

Tea bags are a popular and easy alternative to loose-leaf tea. with their many forms and flavours available at grocery stores, it is the most convenient way to drink tea.

Just like tea, one must not forget a coffee can be brewed in the comfort of your own home. Whether your preference is roasted coffee beans or instant powder, the prices range from $6.23 for 300 grams to $6.83 for 200 grams.

In the long run, 300 grams can get about 25-30 cups of coffee while the instant 200 grams can get around 20-30 cups, both depending on the preferred strength of flavour.

Making coffee at home can be a money saver in the long run with beans or powder costing around $6

“If a consumer wants the freshest, most intense flavour available within a coffee, they should buy it soon after it is roasted, keep it as [whole bean], and grind it just before use,” said Steiman. The whole bean stays fresher longer due to less surface area being exposed to oxygen.

Coffee and tea seem to have more benefits than their cups should be able to hold, so it may be worth it to consider your options for both drinks.

When choosing whether it is better to drink coffee or tea, think of the health benefits, mainly disease prevention and antioxidants, as well as the caffeine content and prices of both drinks.

For those who still struggle with choosing a drink in the coffee shop line-up, maybe try something new. With the ever-evolving tea and coffee options, you will never run out of new drinks to choose from.

With so many options for tea and coffee, it's best to experiment with new drinks to find the one that suits you best


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