One of the oldest debates on the planet has to be the one surrounding your favourite morning drink – are you a coffee person or a tea person? For many of us, it is just something that we decided when we were younger and that we’ve stuck with ever since. But if you are trying to consider the health benefits of the drinks, which is the better as a morning drink or for any other time of the day?
A little background
Tea definitely wins in terms of history – it was said to have been first discovered by the Emperor of China in 2737BC. He was boiling water under a tree when the leaves fell into the water. He tasted the drink and was surprised how good it was – hence tea was born. Tea became the drink of scholars and priests in China and Japan and this is perhaps why it is associated with calmness, spirituality and good health.
Coffee is a more recent addition to the drinks menu and was said to have been discovered in the Ethiopian highlands by a goat herder who noticed his goats becoming hyperactive after eating certain berries. These berries were used to create a drink by monks that kept them alert for their prayers and soon the drink was spreading. It didn’t arrive in Europe until the 17th century.
There are a lot of studies on the health benefits of tea and coffee so it can be a little hard to know for certain what good each can do. Here’s a few things we do know for certain.
Coffee has a higher caffeine level than tea and this makes it a useful stimulant. People have long used it to keep awake and alert or avoided it for those reasons close to bed. There have also been some studies that show coffee can help relax the airways and therefore be beneficial to people with asthma. It is a good hangover cure and can help people with migraines in some cases as it constricts the blood vessels in the brain.
Tea is filled with something called anti-oxidants and there are no doubts about how beneficial these are. These are called polyphenol compounds and have been shown to help with cancer. While studies are uncertain about their cancer preventing abilities, they do have soothing and rejuvenating qualities. Different teas do contain different amounts with green teas being particularly high in antioxidants.
Sometimes the downside of either drink isn’t so much the drink itself but what we put in it. Three sugars and a lot of milk can make coffee into something a bit less beneficial while tea often contains fluoride which is good for the teeth – unless you have too much of it. And the stimulant element of the drinks can work against you when you are trying to relax or sleep.
Tea and coffee are both here to stay with more variations and styles appearing on the market all of the time. Both markets (but especially coffee) have vast opportunities for innovation and evolution. The clip at the bottom of the article shows off a revolutionary new American coffee leaf tea that is a great example of how the markets keep developing. By opting for good quality products and watching what you put in your drink, you can enjoy the possible benefits of these drinks as well as a really tasty cuppa.