This is an often-posed question: which drink has more caffeine – tea or coffee?
If you asked the man or woman on the street, they would probably say coffee, right?
Well, you would be wrong!
If you look at the caffeine found naturally in tea leaves and coffee beans, it’s actually the other way around:
- Tea leaves contain 3.5% caffeine
- Coffee beans contain about 2% caffeine
But, that data is for raw caffeine before it has been brewed.
Also, the amount of caffeine in both coffee or tea massively depends on the origin, variety and how the drink has been prepared, so there’s a lot of factors at play.
For example, when you brew coffee, you typically use more coffee to prepare the drink and brew it at hotter temperatures – both influential factors for higher caffeine extraction rates.
So, when you’re brewing coffee, it normally has more caffeine than tea for the above reasons. So the simple answer is:
Brewed coffee contains more caffeine than brewed tea.
But, let’s dig in a bit further starting with tea…
Caffeine in Tea
Black, green, and white teas are actually prepared from leaves of the same tea plant, which is called Camellia sinensis and are harvested at different times and processed differently, which varies the oxidation levels of the tea - black tea leaves are oxidized, whereas white and green tea are not
How much caffeine is in tea?
Black tea – 47-90 mg of caffeine
Green tea – 20-45 mg of caffeine
White tea – 6-60 mg of caffeine
Matcha tea – 35-40 mg of caffeine
Yerba mate tea - 85 mg of caffeine
Why does caffeine levels vary so much for the same tea?
This is because the tea preparation method greatly influences the caffeine content of tea, so that if is steeped for longer and in hotter water, it tend to produce a higher caffeine tea.
For example, with black tea, it normally contains 40mg of caffeine after 1 minute of brewing, but rise to 60mg after 3 minutes of brewing.
Caffeine in Coffee
So, how does coffee compare? Well, once again it depends on you brew the coffee, what grind level, quantity of coffee and temperature, but here are a few examples:
A single espresso: 65 mg of caffeine
One cup of instant coffee: 100 mg of caffeine
A double espresso: 120 mg of caffeine
A cappuccino or latte: 125 mg of caffeine
One cup of filter coffee: 140 mg of caffeine
16oz cup of cold brew coffee: 200 mg of caffeine
So, all round, there is normally at least double the caffeine in coffee than tea.
How much caffeine is in soft drinks and chocolate?
One can of cola: 40 mg of caffeine
Pne can of energy drink: up to 80 mg of caffeine
One 50g bar of plain chocolate: 25mg of caffeine
One 50g bar of milk chocolate: 10 mg of caffeine