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Caffeine in Coffee vs Tea

February 09 2023 – Stacey Oliver

caffeine in coffee versus tea

Caffeine is a hot and highly discussed topic, whether you are drinking it or avoiding it. Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee, soda, and tea, are a part of most people's everyday routines. You probably know that caffeine energizes your body and awakens your mind when it interacts with the adenosine and serotonin receptors in your brain.

Both tea and coffee are made with hot water and specific plant pieces—tea leaves and coffee beans. However, the flavor and caffeine content of these drinks are very different! So does coffee or tea have more caffeine? And what about caffeine in green tea vs. coffee? Questions regarding the amount of caffeine in coffee vs. tea come up often. 


What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a strong central nervous system stimulant. It occurs naturally in many plants, such as cacao, tea, and coffee. Caffeine can make you feel more focused and alert, helping you wake up or even stay awake longer. 

Did you know that a number of plant species, including Camellia sinensis (a tea), produce caffeine as a natural pesticide? Caffeine usually takes one to two hours in order to have its full effect on the body. 

Comparing Caffeine in Tea and Coffee

Whether you are a traditional tea-brewer or can't live without your morning or afternoon coffee, caffeine is a common household staple. The main difference between the caffeine in tea and coffee is that caffeine in coffee has a considerably more potent stimulant effect on your body because of its chemical makeup or composition.

There are several differences between tea and coffee, even though both are caffeinated beverages. You should know that coffee is considerably richer in caffeine than tea. The coffee brewing process usually uses hotter water, extracting more of the caffeine from the coffee beans.

Tea Leaves Contain More Caffeine than Coffee Beans

Note that before brewing, tea leaves have more caffeine compared to coffee beans. However, after steeping and preparation, tea is diluted a bit more than most coffees. As a result, tea leaves lose their potency. 

There's more caffeine in the leaves of the famous camellia Sinensis plant than the beans of either the Coffea Arabica or Coffea robusta plant.

Brewed Coffee Contains More Caffeine than Steeped Tea

However, after brewing, a cup of coffee contains more caffeine than a standard cup of tea. There is a simple reason for this: coffee is a considerably stronger beverage than tea. However, there are some exceptions, such as low-caffeine coffee beans.

If you do not think that brewed coffee is more concentrated or stronger than steeped tea, all you have to do is look at a cup of each drink. For example, you will be able to see through the tea more easily than the coffee. This is true even if you compare black tea. 

So, what about black tea vs. coffee? A standard cup of black tea has about half the amount caffeine compared to a cup of coffee. The main reason why caffeine from coffee produces a stronger stimulant impact on your body compared to drinking tea is because coffee contains much more caffeine per serving size. How much caffeine is present in black tea? A standard cup of black tea has around 47 milligrams of caffeine. 

Caffeine in Coffee

The average cup of black coffee has about 95 milligrams of caffeine, while a shot of espresso contains about 64 milligrams of caffeine. The FDA recommends consuming 400 milligrams or less each day. This means you can safely drink up to 4 cups of coffee or 6 shots of espresso in a single day.

Caffeine in Coffee: Espresso vs. Black 

There are many myths and misinformation regarding caffeine in espresso and black coffee. Many people assume that espresso drinks are much stronger than standard black coffee. However, this assumption is incorrect.

A standard double shot of espresso contains between 60 and 100mg of caffeine. On the other hand, a mug of black coffee usually has between 60mg and 120mg. 

Green Teas and Caffeine 

Does green tea have more caffeine than coffee? All teas, except fruit tea and most herbal infusions, have caffeine. According to the FDA's estimate, an eight oz cup of coffee usually contains 80 mg to 100 mg of caffeine. On the other hand, an eight oz cup of green tea generally has 30 mg to 50 mg of caffeine.

Are There Any Non-caffeinated Teas?

Many kinds of tea do not contain caffeine. For instance, herbal tea is typically caffeine-free. If you are looking to avoid caffeine, it is best to check the label on your favorite tea. 

Caffeine Levels Vary Significantly in Coffee and Tea

In most cases, coffee has about twice the amount of caffeine as tea. However, caffeine levels vary considerably in both beverages. More precisely, a cup of:

  • Coffee has between 95 milligrams and 200 milligrams of caffeine
  • Black tea contains between 15 milligrams and 70 milligrams of caffeine
  • White tea contains between 6 milligrams and 60 milligrams of caffeine
  • Green tea has between 24 milligrams and 45 milligrams of caffeine

How Much Caffeine is Safe

This varies from one person to another based on different factors. For example, diet plays a significant role in this determination. Smoking can worsen the effects of caffeine consumption. This is because nicotine inhibits or restricts the absorption of adenosine. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that 400 milligrams of caffeine are generally safe for healthy adults. 

As it is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, a higher caffeine intake may lead to insomnia, shakes, anxiety, tremors, and an irregular heartbeat. However, in moderation, caffeine can be beneficial in relieving some symptoms of ADHD, including impulse control and difficulty concentrating. The potential health advantages of coffee consumption range from reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cognitive enhancement to greater fat burning. However, pregnant women should limit their daily caffeine intake to less than 200 milligrams. 

Final Thoughts

So which beverage should you choose – tea or coffee? As coffee lovers, we recommend a delicious and smooth cup of Joe. However, if you are looking for a lighter caffeine boost, you will not go wrong with a cup of black tea. Also, don't forget that both these drinks have decaffeinated options!


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