Caffeine in Tea vs Coffee - There's a Difference!
What exactly is caffeine?
Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance found in the leaves, seeds or fruits of at least 100 different plant species worldwide, and is part of a group of alkaloid compounds known as methylxanthines. The most commonly known sources of caffeine are coffee, cocoa beans, cola nuts and tea leaves. And caffeine from each impacts the body in its own unique way.
Why do so many of us crave caffeine? It's a stimulant that leaves you more alert and energized. Caffeine may also block certain brain receptors from reacting to stress. And let’s not forget our old friend dopamine, a feel-good hormone that’s triggered by caffeine. Not surprising that all of these attributes have us coming back for more.
Caffeine in Tea vs Coffee
By comparison tea leaves actually contain more caffeine than coffee beans. However, an eight-ounce cup of tea requires about 2½ grams of leaves, while that same cup of coffee requires 10 grams. Tea is usually brewed at lower temperatures for a shorter time than coffee, resulting in less caffeine being extracted from the leaves. This alone is good reason why a cup of tea has on average 30 – 45 milligrams of caffeine while a cup of coffee has easily three times that amount.
Caffeine from tea reacts differently with the body than caffeine from coffee and some cola-based sodas. L-theanine, an amino acid found in tea, reduces stress and promotes relaxation. L-theanine also works with caffeine to calm without reducing alertness. High levels of antioxidants found in tea slow caffeine absorption, resulting in a longer period of relaxed focus with caffeine effects gradually tapering off.
Caffeine from coffee impacts us in a different way. Simply put, it blocks and binds to the very same receptors in the brain that cause us to slow down throughout the course of a day until it’s time for rest. This process encourages the release of hormones that give us that familiar adrenaline jolt. Once that mug of coffee has metabolized, the floodgates open back up to those sleepy time molecules, causing a caffeine crash.
What are caffeine-free options?
What to do if you’re not digging the effects of caffeine? You can cut back on consumption or space out your intake. Decaffeinated teas or coffees are a bit of a misnomer as there’s no such thing as total decaffeination; there will always be trace amounts of caffeine left in tea or coffee after the process.
Herbals are becoming an increasingly viable option. There exist so many blends that offer robust, full flavour with the vast majority being caffeine-free and many packed with antioxidants and other benefits. Explore and enjoy!