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Tea drinking is a national pastime in the UK, but coffee is gradually catching up. Both drinks contain caffeine, taste great and warm you up - but which is best for your health?
Let the battle commence!
Coffee has a 'wake-you-up' reputation and based on the amount of caffeine involved it should be the clear winner. Tea has 40mgs of caffeine per cup whereas filter coffee has 80 - 115mgs, but a study showed that both drinks worked to wake participants up equally well.
Researchers think there may be something other than caffeine working to stimulate us - perhaps taste, smell or even the routine of 'drink tea, wake up' that matches its smaller caffeine intake to coffee's larger dose.
Result: A draw
Drinking caffeinated beverages in the evening isn't recommended as they interfere with your ability to sleep well, but studies indicate that what you drink during the day affects your night time slumber too. The University of Surrey found that coffee drinkers found it harder to sleep at night - most likely because their caffeine intake caught up with them. Tea drinkers tended to sleep longer and better.
Result: Tea wins
Tea, red wine and coffee are guilty teeth-ruining culprits, but studies show tea pigments are more likely to stick to your teeth than coffee. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-051X.1997.tb00476.x/full)
Result: Coffee wins!
In times of crisis Brits put the kettle on, but we don't drink coffee to calm our nerves - that honour goes to tea. We don't need evidence to believe this works well, but here it is anyway. A study found people who drank three cups of tea a day had a 37% lower risk of depression (http://anp.sagepub.com/content/49/4/334.full.pdf+html) than those who don't drink it, and regular tea consumers exhibit a calmer response to stress compared those drinking herbal tea - in particular their post stress cortisol levels were lower. Perhaps this is a learned response - we are Pavlov's tea drinkers. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-006-0573-2?no-access=true)
Result: Tea Wins - who's getting thirsty?
Tea is packed full of anti-oxidants and may protect against a range of cancers, particularly black tea (http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9915773&fileId=S0007114515002329) but evidence highlights coffee may protect the heart better than tea, with four cups a day giving the most protection.
Both drinks reduce the risk of diabetes even when decaffeinated, pointing to an antioxidant or plant based benefit. http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=773949&wptouch_preview_theme=enabled
Result: Another draw - this is going to be close.
There's no evidence to suggest one hydrates better than the other. Both tea and coffee count as your daily intake of fluid as prescribed by the NHS.
Result: A draw
NHS guidelines say the maximum amount of caffeine is 200 mgs a day for pregnant ladies - that's two cups of coffee. Buy some decaf instead because it still has health benefits but you won't be putting your baby at risk of low birth weight or even miscarriage.
People with health conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety and insomnia should limit their caffeine intake too.
Result: Tea wins- because its caffeine levels are lower, allowing you to drink more cups.
It looks as though tea is our winner due to its wake-up properties, hard-working ethic and antioxidant levels. That doesn't means coffee isn't good for you though, it has a range of health benefits too.
If you drink a lot of tea and coffee try switching to decaf every other cup to keep your levels sensible. Oh, and don't forget to drink some water too because that really is the best drink for you.