Coffee vs Tea: The Benefits and Drawbacks

What’s the best way to get your caffeine fix? Read on for one junior’s opinion…

By Jordan Siegel

As high school students, we find ourselves constantly overwhelmed with things to do, in and out of school. Sometimes, we could all use a little energy boost. For many students, that comes in the form of beverages, specifically coffee and tea. Both provide tons of benefits, but most people have a preference of one over the other. So, what exactly are you getting to drink: coffee or tea?

One very important component of both coffee and tea is caffeine. Usually, coffee packs a lot more caffeine than tea, giving it the reputation of being a good wake up call. Most coffee drinkers prefer to have it in the morning or when they need to stay awake. According to Healthline, caffeine increases alertness because it increases dopamine levels. Caffeine also affects your brain’s rewards system, which makes it so addictive. While tea may not have as much caffeine as coffee does, it contains an antioxidant called L-theanine, which stimulates the brain and creates an anti-stress effect. So, while coffee may make you feel jittery, the energy that tea provides is more soothing.

Additionally, there are plenty of health benefits that come from drinking coffee and tea. For instance, studies show that long-term coffee drinkers have a reduced chance of getting diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s and are somewhat protected from diseases such as liver fibrosis. On the other hand, tea has been proven to play a role in preventing the contraction of certain cancers such as colorectal, lung, prostate and ovarian. Moreover, regular tea drinkers benefit from a reduced chance of getting heart attacks. Either way, it’s clear that both coffee and tea have more advantages than we think.

However, there are some drawbacks to both drinks. While the large amounts of caffeine in coffee may be good for pulling an all-nighter, it can also cause insomnia, anxiety and stress. The addictive qualities of caffeine can also be harmful in the future, creating a dependency on the drink as well as intense withdrawal symptoms, such as bad headaches, drowsiness and sometimes even depression. The negative impacts of the overconsumption of caffeine seen in coffee drinkers are fortunately not usually a problem for those who drink tea instead. However, it has been shown that tea blocks iron consumption and can cause anemia. 

Whether you choose to drink coffee or tea, it all comes down to personal preference, considering the fact that they both have positive and negative effects on your overall health. Would you rather have a quick energy boost or a gradual one? Are you sensitive to caffeine? A lot of the time, taste is an important factor as well. Coffee can be nutty, chocolaty, or acidic. It all depends on the coffee bean used. Conversely, the taste of tea is often more subtle, and there is a lot more variety in flavor. Both beverages can taste bitter due to the caffeine, but that is usually solved by adding milk or sugar. 

I asked the community at Byram Hills what their beverage preferences were and here is what I learned. Junior Lauren Amico said that she prefers tea because “caffeine makes me feel jittery.” Junior Ariel Sheinberg agreed, saying that, “I prefer tea because when I drink coffee, the caffeine makes me nervous.” When I asked physics teacher Ms. Tompkins about her preferences, she told me that, “It depends on the time of day. Coffee is good in the morning because it’s a good morning wake up. Tea is better in the afternoon or evening because you can drink it before going to sleep.” Overall, most people agreed that the effect of caffeine is sometimes too much, and tea is a lot more relaxing.

Even if you are a dedicated coffee drinker and vow to never drink tea, or vice versa, I think we can all admit that drinking either is very beneficial. Especially in high school, the energy provided by coffee or the relaxation provided by tea can be super helpful when we need it, if they are taken in healthy amounts. Personally, I don’t drink either, but after doing the research on the benefits, I’m starting to think that maybe I should!