Which is better, tea or coffee?

George Orwell once wrote: “Tea is a major pillar of Britain’s civilization.” However, even the British themselves admit that our national drink is facing a variety of challenges initiated by coffee.

Although getting involved in this kind of strong gunpowder competition may face many risks, BBC Future decided to compare the relevant indicators of the two drinks. Of course, in terms of taste, it is really difficult to adjust, but we still combed all kinds of scientific literature to find the actual quantitative impact of these two drinks on our physical and mental health.


Caffeine is the main reason why many people choose these two beverages; when we wake up in the morning and still feel sleepy, it can act as a lubricating oil for our body engines. In terms of composition alone, coffee is far ahead in this regard: a cup of tea has about half the caffeine content of a standard fermented filter coffee, the former is 40 mg, and the latter is 80 to 115 mg. However, this may not reflect the true refreshing effect.

A small-scale study showed that when volunteers drank tea or coffee in the morning, the refreshing effects of the two beverages were very similar in the subsequent time. Although this study relied solely on the feelings reported by volunteers, more objective indicators such as reaction time also failed to show significant differences. In fact, when you drink a lot of tea to reach the strength equivalent to coffee, the refreshing effect is more obvious.

Scientists believe that the caffeine content does not reflect the whole picture: our expectations may also have an impact on our own feelings; it may also be because the tastes and smells we like awaken our consciousness.

Conclusion: Contrary to logic, tea has the same refreshing effect as coffee. The two are tied.

Sleep quality

When you are about to fall asleep, perhaps the biggest difference between coffee and tea can really show up.

Researchers at the University of Surrey found that coffee drinkers tend to have more difficulty falling asleep at night

Researchers from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom compared people who consumed the same amount of tea or coffee on the same day and found that although both beverages played a similar role in concentrating daytime attention, those who drank coffee It’s often harder for people to fall asleep at night—perhaps because the higher caffeine content eventually starts to work on you.

In contrast, people who drink tea sleep longer and are more relaxed.

Conclusion: Tea can provide many of the same benefits as coffee, but it does not cause insomnia-a clear victory in this round.

Tooth staining

Like red wine, coffee and tea will stain white teeth with a dull yellow or brown. But which drink has the stronger tinting power?

The dentist said that the natural dyes of tea adhere to tooth enamel more easily than coffee

The dentist said that the natural dyes of tea adhere to tooth enamel more easily than coffee

Most dentists seem to agree. They believe that the natural dyes of tea are more likely to adhere to tooth enamel than coffee—especially when your mouthwash contains chlorhexidine, a common antibacterial agent. Matter seems to be able to attract and attach to microscopic particles.

Conclusion: If you want to have a perfect smile, then the two evils are the lesser one, and coffee may be more suitable for you.

Soothing effect

In England, people often use “tea and sympathy” to comfort friends who are in distress-they believe that a cup of Earl Grey tea can heal a wounded heart. In fact, there is indeed evidence that tea can have a soothing effect: Compared with people who drink citrus mint tea, people who drink tea often tend to be more calm when faced with disturbing environments (such as public speaking). . Overall, people who drank 3 cups of tea a day had a 37% lower risk of depression than those who did not drink tea.

Coffee has no such effect. There are even reports showing that coffee can make people nervous. But there is also some evidence that this drink is also beneficial for maintaining long-term mental health. A recent “meta-analysis” (combined research conclusions from more than 300,000 participants) found that drinking a cup of coffee a day seems to reduce the risk of depression by 8%. In contrast, other beverages (such as sweetened soft drinks) only increase the risk of mental health problems.

Researchers at the University of Surrey found that coffee drinkers tend to have more difficulty falling asleep at night

We need to look at this issue with reservations: Although scientists have tried their best, it is difficult to rule out other influencing factors in such large-scale epidemiological studies. However, both of these beverages may provide some nutrients that can reduce Stress response and promote long-term mental health.

Conclusion: Judging from the limited evidence, the game was tied.

Good for health

There are also some interesting preliminary studies that show that coffee and tea have many other health benefits. For example, drinking a few cups of coffee or tea a day can reduce the risk of diabetes. (The specific benefits are still inconclusive. Current estimates are between 5% and 40%.) However, since decaffeinated coffee can also play the same role, it may be that other nutrients improve metabolism. So that it can still process blood sugar efficiently without being slow to insulin-this is the cause of diabetes.

Both of these drinks seem to have a certain protective effect on our hearts, but the evidence for coffee is slightly clearer. However, tea seems to be better at preventing a range of cancers-this may be due to the antioxidants it contains.

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