Spirit Tea

Earth Humanity Heaven

An uncommon selection of handmade teas, each reflecting a unique moment in space and time.

What is the difference in caffeine between coffee and tea?

Living in America it is only natural for us to want to be motivated by the effects of the external stimuli.  In this case we are talking about caffeine, specifically the difference in caffeine content between coffee and tea. 

Caffeine has been an enormous motivating factor for the mass consumption of coffee and tea since it was first introduced to the western world.  It was seen as the elixir of vitality, alertness, and mental clarity.  

Tea Vs. Coffee Caffeine


But what is caffeine really? And what is it's purpose within the plant.  If you've ever tasted caffeine on it's own you know it can be quite bitter.  The reason why it is bitter is because it is natures natural pesticide.  Hungry insects looking to feed on the energy sources of these wondrous plants would be greeted with an unpleasant bitterness and dissuade the insect from munching further.  

Now there are only four plants in the world that contain caffeine - coffee, tea, chocolate, and mate.  Incredibly three of them evolved on separate continents.  

Now one of the main differences between tea and coffee caffeine is that Coffee comes from the legume (bean) family while tea comes from the world of trees.  It is much easier for your body to digest a bean than it is a plant. Think about the difference between eating a bean burrito vs a straight salad.  One you can easily swallow, the other you have to chew.  But that's only the beginning.  

Many people drink a sip of coffee and a sip of tea side by side and think that the coffee is stronger, mostly because they can feel the effects sooner. But rapidity of digestion does not necessarily determine strength.  So on average it takes about 5 minutes to feel the effects of coffee, and about 25 minutes to feel the effects of tea.  

This also plays a role into the effect you get from it.  The faster your body absorbs the caffeine from coffee, it is also going to drop off very quickly, hence the veritable crash.  However tea takes you up slowly and brings you down easily.  

Many people are surprised to learn that by volume tea actually has more caffeine than coffee. That is to say if you were to take 1 oz of both the plants you would find a higher concentration of caffeine in the tea!  

However, when you make coffee you are using much more grounds in proportion to the amount of water you have.  In tea we measure in grams and coffee is often measured in oz. The second factor is temperature of water, and time of submersion. This does not play a huge role in tea vs coffee, but it will play a larger role when we look at the different caffeine content between white tea and green tea,  green tea and black tea, and white tea and black tea.  

We will cover the caffeine content between types of tea in my next article.