Coffee or tea?

Tea and coffee are popular for their caffeine hit as a morning pick-me-up and for many other reasons. One cup of tea contains about 40mg of caffeine, whereas a cup of coffee can have a whopping 60-100mg per cup, or even higher!

Coffee’s caffeine content depends on the bean variety, how it’s roasted (lighter roasts have more caffeine than darker roasts), the method (brewed, espresso, instant, decaf), and the serving size. It’s worth noting that the instant variety contains about half the caffeine of a single shot from the local cafe barista, which means that a double shot is equal to about 4 cups of normal coffee! And yes, even decaf contains some remnant of caffeine.

Coffee is a natural diuretic, so it can make you feel thirsty or even dehydrated if you drink too much. Caffeine can cause insomnia, agitation, and the disturbing sensation of a racing heart. Coffee’s high caffeine content can make your heart race so fast that it feels like mild tachycardia; triggering a stress response in susceptible people. You may feel benefit from the increased clarity of mind that caffeine can bring to your work day, but you risk waking up on Sunday morning with caffeine withdrawal and a nasty ‘coffee headache’. That is not a healthy way to live.

Withdrawal symptoms generally begin 12-24 hours after sudden cessation of caffeine consumption and reach a peak after 20-48 hours. However, in some individuals, these symptoms can appear within only 3-6 hours and can last for 1 week.

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The most commonly reported caffeine withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Impaired concentration
  • Work difficulty
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Increased muscle tension
  • Tremor, nausea, and vomiting (occasionally).
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Caffeine is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and metabolised in the liver. The half-life of caffeine in healthy adults is from 3-7 hours, with the peak blood concentration being reached anywhere between 15 minutes and 2 hours after ingestion. What that means is that it can take up to 7 hours for the caffeine in your system to reduce by half, and many more hours before it is flushed out completely.

If you have an early start in the morning, you can’t afford to be up all night. But with so much caffeine in every cup, drinking coffee late in the day can make it difficult to sleep at night. If you drink coffee, only do so in the morning and give your body a chance to get rid of it before it’s time for bed.

While caffeine is a stimulant in both coffee and tea, the L-theanine in tea effectively counterbalances caffeine’s negative effects, making tea a much more relaxing beverage than coffee – with a calming effect on your nervous system and your heart.

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A fresh cup of hot tea can make you feel almost instantly refreshed, improve your mental alertness, reduce feelings of fatigue, and help return a sense of equilibrium to the senses. Many believe that tea might even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancers of the digestive tract.  For added health benefits, spiced chai tea is the clever choice, in my opinion.

REFERENCES

  • da Silva Pinto, M. (2013). Tea: A new perspective on health benefits, 1–10.
  • Kim, Y., Keogh, J. B., & Clifton, P. M. (2016). Polyphenols and Glycemic Control, 2471(December 2015).
  • Windle, Mary L. (2019). Fast Five Quiz: Caffeine Facts vs Fiction, Medscape.com

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