Coffee or Tea, please?
Have you ever woken up and wondered, “How do I start my perfect day”?
Tea or Coffee is mostly the preferred choice to the question above; but, making a clear choice depends on your knowledge on either the coffee drink or tea beverage.
In my previous articles (bit.ly/coffeemyths and bit.ly/howtoCoffee), I tried to describe coffee as a drink brewed from roasted green coffee beans (Arabica or Robusta) which can be gotten from a fruit known as the coffee cherry which is roasted in various profiles based on individual preferences, through systematic method(s) with optional additives that gives a perfect taste to an individual.
In this article, I will compare tea and coffee by looking at its similarities and known differences,
But before that, let's look at a brief background of “Tea”.
Tea Origin and Commercialization
Many researchers and historians link the origin of “tea” to China, also there is even a little history on how it was discovered:
According to legend, in 2737 BC, the Chinese emperor was sitting under a tree while his servant boiled drinking water, when some leaves from the tree fell into the water. The emperor who was a renowned herbalist, decided to try the infusion that his servant had accidentally created. The tree was a Camellia Sinensis, and the resulting drink was what we now call “tea”.
The popularity of tea spread throughout China and Japan. Tea was first introduced to Europe in the 16th Century by traders. It became a globally traded commodity when the East India Company was established in India.
This popular beverage soon became an English institution. Tea remains one of the most popular beverages in the world today. All types of tea today come from the same Camellia Sinesis plant.
Some Tea Culture around the World
Relaxation, spirituality, tradition and pleasure are some things that determine the culture of tea in most countries, to them tea isn’t just a drink. Having looked at the origin of tea and how it gained commercial viability, let just peep into some early tea drinking cultures around the world.
- China: There is no better place to start than the country of its origin – China. They are known mainly for their traditions and rituals as well as the techniques used to brew and serve an informal tea setting. Tea is considered as the way of life for the Chinese. One of the most common Chinese tea ceremonies is the Gongfu Tea ceremony, where Oolong tea is served in a particular type of clay pots. “Cha Doa” talks about the talent of making tea.
- Japan: This country is expected to be the hometown, where matcha is served. Matcha is dried and ground to bright green powder. It is also used for the traditional Japanese ceremony, which is known as the “Way of life or the Chado, which also is a spiritual experience. Starting off as a luxury, tea went on to be the necessity of life.
- Middle East: In the Arab Countries, meanwhile, tea is the center of focus for any social gatherings.
- Morocco: Touareg or hot mint tea is popular in Morocco. Traditionally served in a tall glass, in three servings, each imparts a unique flavour. You are expected to echo the wishes and meanings of life, love, and death. Belief is that the first serving is “gentle as life” second as “strong as love” and finally the third serving is expected to be as “bitter as death”.
- India: Known for a strong culture of tea, tea is drunk daily at almost all houses and even served to guests, primarily in the morning and evening. You can choose to add milk and sugar or have it black or can opt for green tea, as preferred in the country. You could also add the spices if you prefer to get that hot, delicious ginger tea, masala chai or the elaichi tea, according to taste. Sold in small cups, the cutting chai sold by street vendors are also very popular.
Comparing tea and coffee
Having briefly looked at the background of both beverages and clearly established their existence, preference, and dominance in society and therefore most cultures around the world, let us look at the comparisons between the two.
Similarities between Tea and Coffee
They both have well-established cultures that determine proper ways of processing them into lovely drinks, even though tea is steeped and coffee is usually brewed. Coffee and tea are both drunk throughout the day, especially in the morning for their nutritious stimulating properties. Both are usually drunk hot, but iced versions of both tea and coffee are also consumed.
- Caffeine Content
Coffee and tea can have a stimulating effect on humans because of their caffeine content even though they contain different amounts of caffeine in the final cup. An average cup of tea has approximately half the caffeine content of coffee.
- Health Benefits
It is said that black and green teas contain certain compounds which protect the human body against cancer. The Harvard School of Public Health stated that "Coffee may have potential health benefits, but more research needs to be done.
They both possess antioxidants which help the body. Antioxidant in tea protects the body from free radical stress and reduces cholesterol levels in the body. Coffee also comprises antioxidants that regulate blood sugar levels as well as prevent gallstones Tea contains more antioxidants per cup than coffee.
Difference between Tea and Coffee
In spite of their similarities mentioned above, both coffee and tea have unique features that make them different from one another, noted differences among them are;
- Caffeine Content
Coffee is said to be the biggest source of caffeine, while tea is put as the second largest source of caffeine. The main difference between the caffeine in coffee and tea is that most tea has a lot less of it. From most research results, a strong cup of coffee can provide about 100–300 mg of caffeine, while a cup of tea may provide approximately 20–60 mg.
- Health Benefits
The list of health benefits in tea is long, from fighting inflammation and boosting brain health, to help in lowering the risks of heart diseases and strokes. Coffee, on the other hand, is a rich source of antioxidants and its regular consumption has been linked to protection against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and certain cancers.
- Brewing process
Coffee taste and type depend on the brewing whereas tea taste might be different because generally there are added flavours like ginger, cardamom, pepper, and brewing too.
You have a lot of options when it comes to brewing your coffee, and fewer options for tea. Coffee is usually prepared by either by drip brewing or immersion, and a variety of filters, grinds, and containers are used to extract different flavors. But when it comes to tea, you may just have one option to extract flavor: immersion (steeping).
Even though there are different kinds of pots or other steeping containers, filters and other accessories found in coffee brewing aren’t frequently used.
One reason for tea’s simple brewing process is that you want to give essential oils time to transfer from the leaf into the water so that you get the delicate flavors and aromas in them.
From the comparison above, it is established that tea due to its brewing method has less caffeine and high antioxidants which are good for our health, and can be enjoyed throughout the day, while coffee has high levels of caffeine compared to tea, less level of antioxidants and fewer health benefits.
The next time you want to decide on what beverage or drink (tea or coffee) to take to make a perfect start to the day, remember to choose what gives you the perfect taste and satisfaction with your health in consideration after the first sip.
That said, enjoy your next cup of coffee or tea, please.
About the Author:
Benedicta Tamakloe -a Coffeepreneur, is the Founder of Bean Masters, a Ghanaian StartUp focused on the coffee business of course.
She welcomes all remarks/questions/ feedback via email at [email protected]
© 2018 Benedicta Tamakloe and © 2018 Bean Masters