Coffee Versus Tea
Analyzing the health pros and cons of America’s two favorite warm drinks
By: Mariah Deyo
I can get up and get moving with my day without a cup of caffeine! Scratch that, literally. For me, getting up in the morning is a feat near impossible without the knowledge of a nice warm caffeinated drink on the horizon. I have been a coffee consumer since age 7 when my dad let me sneak sips of coffee from his mug before school. It wasn’t until recently that I began consuming tea in the morning, which got me to thinking- what are the health benefits, if any, that are associated with drinking tea and with drinking coffee? Thus, I began my research.
As the deep-rooted java drinker that I am, I began my studies with coffee. Coffee was first discovered in the forests of the Ethiopian plateau by a goat herder Kaldi. He noticed that whenever his goats ate the “berries” from the cocoa tree, they were so energetic that they could not fall asleep. So, as the legend goes, he brought some of these magical fruits back with him, creating the drink which many have grown to love. Monastery’s in Ethiopia began to consume this drink to keep them awake during long hours of prayer, and similarly coffee replaced alcohol for breakfast in Europe after they found it made them more energized and ready to take on the day.
Regardless of how the jitter juice came to be, research found that there are plenty of positive health benefits to drinking coffee. Coffee consumers were found to have lower risks of liver disease, decreased likelihood of Alzheimer’s, and lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, coffee contains antioxidants which enhance cognitive function and memory. As for the health downfalls, any coffee consumer has experienced “the jitters” following too much coffee; conditions including heart palpitations, anxiety, and nausea. Additionally, over 1000 chemicals have been found in roasted coffee, with 19 of which being known carcinogens. For those of us who often enjoy a dark chocolate mocha from the Cabin in Davies, or possibly a delicious frappucino from Starbuck’s- be aware of the amounts of fats, sugars, and calories that you are consuming. Depending on how quickly you metabolize, heightened cholesterol and weight gain might come consequently to overconsumption.
Now, onto the history of tea. Two legends exist upon where tea first originated. Based in China, 2737 B.C.E., Emperor Shen Nong was evidently boiling water in his garden when a leaf from a wild tea tree fell into his pot. After tasting his water, he discovered he enjoyed the flavor and conducted research on its health properties. The next legend goes that in India, Year 520, Prince Bodhi-Dharma left to preach Buddhism in China. To prove the Zen principles, he vowed to meditate for 9 years, however he fell asleep. Allegedly, when he woke up, he cut off his eyelid and a tea tree sprung up on the spot to “sanctify his sacrifice”. Whatever the case may be, tea has been the most popular beverage second to water for centuries.
Similarly, to coffee, tea is filled with antioxidants and cancer fighting properties. The different types of teas are proven to inhibit a variety of health benefits. Green tea reduces esophageal cancer, black tea lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol; and white tea inhibits the growth of fat cells. However, too much consumption can cause heart palpitations and restlessness. Additionally, as tea contains fluoride, there is an increased risk of bone brittleness and osteofluorosis, an access of fluoride found in the bones. Depending where the tea is from, there is additional concern for pesticides to be found in the tea as well.
Rejoice coffee and tea connoisseurs! Both coffee and tea are shown to be beneficial to our health and rarely detrimental to it. Coffee content varies in each beverage, with an 8 oz. coffee containing 75-165 mg and an 8 oz. tea containing 26 mg. Your choice in your breakfast brew is up to you, whether you chose bitter or sweet, iced or hot. Regardless, we can keep our tea kettles whistling and our coffee makers running.