At the University of Georgia, bleary-eyed students can often be seen trekking to their 8 a.m. classes. One hand holds a bagel or some other on-the-go breakfast, the other holds a thermos of coffee.
Coffee is the staple morning drink, promising mental rejuvenation and alertness. However, while heralded for its performance, tea offers similar results with much better health and environmental consequences compared to coffee.
“I think tea and coffee each serve their own purposes and if you're drinking coffee solely for caffeine purposes then it's hard to find a tea to match the caffeine levels,” said Emilie Gille, a third-year public relations major from Gainesville. “However, I think tea offers more in flavors and health benefits in addition to providing caffeine. Plus tea isn't as harsh on your digestive system as coffee.”
The common belief is that coffee inherently contains more caffeine than tea, but that is actually not true. Tea leaves contain more caffeine than coffee beans, but since tea is more diluted, the effects of tea weaken. Thus, more concentrated tea will be comparable, if not superior, to a cup of coffee.
If you plan on continuing your coffee habit into old age, know that the tannins and chromogens can stain your teeth. The two chemicals are naturally found in coffee beans and contribute to the yellowing effect that prolonged coffee users see in their teeth. Herbal tea drinkers don’t see such severe effects since the tea lacks such compounds, in addition to being less acidic than coffee.
But if that’s not enough for you to make the switch, the fact that tea drinkers often save more money than coffee drinkers should persuade you. If you’ve seen a typical coffee shop menu, you’ll know that tea is cheaper than coffee, especially at places like Starbucks. Even in wholesale, loose leaf tea will cost less than coffee.
“I think tea offers more in flavors and health benefits in addition to providing caffeine. Plus tea isn't as harsh on your digestive system as coffee.”
-Emilie Gille, UGA student
Tea is also better for the environment. Four mugs of black tea per day will emit 30 kilograms in energy usage by simply boiling the amount of water you need, whereas three lattes per day will emit 600 kilograms of carbon, equivalent to half a trip from America to Europe.
Increasing tea and decreasing coffee consumption can benefit the consumer’s wallet, body and overall environment. When reaching for the morning pick-me-up, opt instead for bags of tea. It’s just as caffeinated (depending on dilution), and can be a quali-tea improvement in your life.