Whether it is part of your daily routine first thing in the morning, a pick-me-up throughout the day, or your saving grace to pull an all-nighter while you finish that work assignment you left until the last minute, it’s pretty safe to say that caffeine plays some kind of role in most of our lives.
Believe it or not, caffeine is found in over 60 plant species and is enjoyed across virtually every country on the planet -- especially in tea and coffee. The caffeine content in a beverage varies depending on the ingredients, how the drink is prepared, and the plant source it comes from.
The Effects of Caffeine
Caffeine has been consumed for hundreds and hundreds of years, with studies going back and forth on the level of safety of caffeine.
Due to its effects on the central nervous system, caffeine is classified as a stimulant and is most commonly used to increase concentration, athletic performance, and alertness. Additionally, caffeine is also a diuretic and can lead to increased urination and even dehydration in excess quantities. Caffeine can also be isolated and is used in medications for headaches, pain relief, and asthma -- just check that cold and flu medicine in your medicine cabinet!
Caffeine is, without a doubt, the world’s most widely consumed drug. In fact, it’s no wonder the consumption of tea and coffee is so pervasive across the world when you consider its powerful effects.
How Much Caffeine is in Coffee Versus Green Tea?
Determining coffee caffeine content versus green tea caffeine content isn’t as cut and dry as differentiating between Arabica beans and tea leaves. Many interchanging parts can change the overall caffeine content of both drinks.
With that being said, a cup of java will typically contain more caffeine than green tea.
The average cup of coffee contains approximately 95mg of caffeine, whereas green tea caffeine content hovers between 30mg and 50mg.
What Can Change The Caffeine Content?
Determining the exact amount of caffeine in coffee and green tea isn’t an exact science. Here are three factors that can alter how much caffeine is in your morning brew.
The longer you allow your tea or coffee to steep, the more caffeine will be infused into your drink. Be careful though -- the flavor of both drinks holds a fine line between deep and rich compared to overly bitter.
How long your leaves or beans sit isn’t the only factor for determining how much caffeine is in coffee and green tea. The temperature of the water plays a pretty significant role, as well. The hotter your water is, the more of a buzz you are going to get from your drink -- but why does this happen?
Well, it's because hot H2O causes stress on plant matter. The abrasiveness of the hot temperature causes the exterior of coffee beans being brewed to burst, which releases more caffeine into the brew. The same can be said for green tea. Heat causes the tiny hairs on tea leaves to break open. In turn, the beverage gets enriched with much more caffeine.
Types of Drink
Just like there is a difference in the amount of caffeine in both beverages, no two coffee brands and green tea brands are the same either.
There are a handful of different factors at play that will determine how much of this popular stimulant is in a leaf or bean. The environment and conditions that the plant was grown in will have a monumental impact as well as the variety of the leaf or bean itself.
Potential Side Effects of Caffeine
Drinking a couple cups of java each day is generally considered safe. However, consuming large amounts of caffeine daily can lead to a handful of unwanted side effects, such as:
We already know that caffeine is known to increase alertness. It works by blocking the effects of adenosine, which is a chemical in your brain that makes you feel sleepy. At the same time, it triggers the release of adrenaline -- the “fight-or-flight” hormone associated with increased energy.
However, at large doses, these effects may become more pronounced, leading to nervousness and anxious feelings. If you notice that you often feel a bit jittery or nervous, it might be a good idea to evaluate your caffeine intake and cut it back.
Caffeine’s ability to help us stay awake is, without a doubt, one of its most prized qualities. On the other hand, too much of the stuff can make it challenging to get enough restorative sleep.
Numerous studies have found that a high caffeine intake appears to increase the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Additionally, it may also decrease total sleeping time, especially in the elderly.
Many individuals find that a cup of joe helps to get their bowels moving in the morning. Coffee’s laxative effect has been attributed to the release of gastrin -- a hormone your stomach produces that speeds up activity in your colon.
Additionally, caffeine itself also seems to stimulate bowel movements by increasing peristalsis, the contractions that help move food through your digestive tract.
Given this effect, it’s not really surprising that large caffeine doses may lead to loose stools and even diarrhea in some people.
High Blood Pressure
Overall, caffeine found in tea and coffee doesn’t seem to really increase the risk of heart disease in most people. However, in many studies, it has been shown to raise blood pressure due to its natural stimulatory effect on the nervous system.
Elevated blood pressure is not good by any means and is a risk factor for stroke and heart attack because it may damage arteries over time, restricting blood flow to your brain and heart.
Thankfully, caffeine’s effect on blood pressure does seem to be temporary. Additionally, it also seems to have the strongest impact on those who are not used to consuming it.
Excess caffeine has also been shown to raise blood pressure during exercise in healthy adults, as well as those with mildly elevated blood pressure. With that in mind, paying attention to the dosage of caffeine is of the utmost importance -- especially if you already have high blood pressure.
Why Does the Caffeine From Green Tea Feel Different Than the Caffeine From Coffee?
Where it gets interesting is when we look at how the caffeine in green tea behaves differently in our bodies compared to the caffeine in coffee.
When green tea leaves are infused, the caffeine attaches to the tea’s tannins, which stabilizes and reduces its effect. The caffeine is released at a much slower rate, stimulating our full nervous system and our cardiovascular system -- in an even and sustainable way. L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, also works synergistically with the caffeine to provide a calm but focused effect.
In contrast, the caffeine found in a cup of java has a direct effect on blood circulation through the coronary systems, stimulating and accelerating the heart rate -- hence the reason why your heart may pound after a shot of espresso!
To put it in the simplest of terms, the caffeine in green tea gently stimulates your body and mind while the caffeine in coffee excites it.
Okay, so what’s better, caffeine from green tea or coffee?
Great question! Caffeine affects everyone differently, but for those looking for longer lasting energy without the notorious crash, caffeine from green tea is better because it’s absorbed by the body alongside L-theanine, which provides a calm and sustainable form of energy.
A Final Word
So, how much caffeine is in green tea compared to coffee, you ask?
As we mentioned, the average cup of coffee contains approximately 95mg of caffeine, whereas the caffeine in green tea hovers between 30mg and 50mg.
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