Coffee vs. Green Tea, Compared in Detail

green tea and coffee

by Matt Gibson

Coffee and tea are the two most popular hot beverages in the world, but most people prefer one to the other. Sure, there are people who enjoy both, but even those folks tend to have a favorite. It’s like the Beatles and Elvis, you can appreciate both artists for different reasons, but most people have a clear and distinct preference of one over the other.

Coffee and tea cause the same kind of division, and it is a rarity for someone to consume equal amounts of each beverage. It seems that there are two types of people in this world, coffee people, and tea people. Sure, there are some that don’t like either beverage, but there’s no pleasing those types of people, so let’s pretend they don’t exist. 

Coffee is America’s hot beverage of choice, as an estimated 64% of Americans consume at least one cup of joe per day. Tea time is a symbol of relaxation and socialization, while coffee breaks are associated with energy and efficiency. The UK, which has a long, storied history surrounding tea time, is drinking less and less tea, and more and more coffee drinks.

Recent coffee studies have done a lot to clear up misconceptions about the negative effects of coffee, and the new news is that java seems to have just as many health benefits as tea. Research has recently emerged that shows that coffee, especially when it is prepared without heaps of sugars and flavored creams, has a long list of health benefits that rivals green tea. 

Coffee and green tea, in fact, both come with their own different but equally important collection of health benefits which make the rarity of people who love and consume both beverages equally, less of a rarity, as it is now considered healthy to drink two cups of coffee and two cups of green tea per day. Green tea and coffee couldn’t be more different than each other. Green tea is herbal, light, and delicate. Coffee is robust, bold, and complex. 

In this article, we dissect coffee and green tea, discuss which of the two beverages is better based on certain viewpoints. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each, as well as their various health benefits. Then, we let you know how much is too much when it comes to either green tea or coffee drinks per day. Then, we tell you what to expect when switching from coffee to green tea if you decide to switch up your routine to see what you think. Lastly, we discuss a way to consume drinks in moderation. So, first things first, let’s get ready to dissect the world’s most popular hot beverages. 

What Is Coffee? 

Coffee is a drink made from the roasted or ground seeds of the coffee plant and hot water. The water is pulled through the grounds during the extraction process, and the result is a dark brown, nearly black liquid that is high in caffeine and other compounds. When the seeds or berries of the coffee plant change from green to red, they are ready to be picked, sorted, and dried. Once the coffee beans have been dried, they are then roasted to different levels to achieve various flavors, typically light, medium, and dark roasts. 

Coffee plants don’t grow well in any random environment. They need a tropical climate, morning sun, afternoon shade, lots of rain, and high elevations. Though it is not a requirement, coffee plants also enjoy volcanic soils. Due to their highly specific growing conditions, certain countries and regions are better for coffee production than others. The world’s best areas for coffee growing include Ethiopia, Kenya, Hawaii, Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Indonesia, Rwanda, Panama. 

There are many different brewing methods for making coffee, and countless specialty drinks made from various brewing techniques. One of the most popular hot beverages in the world, coffee is the first thing that many people consume each day. This is because of the energy that coffee provides due to its high caffeine content. Coffee can be consumed black, or diluted with milk, cream, or water, and sugar. 

What Is Green Tea? 

Green tea is a type of tea which is made by steeping the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, also called the tea plant. All teas are made from the tea plant, but are processed and treated differently to make different types of tea. Unlike oolong teas and black teas, the leaves and buds of the tea plant are not processed and forced to wither and oxidize before being brewed into green tea. In fact, green tea is one of the most unprocessed teas on the market, which is why it is so high in antioxidants and polyphenols, the compounds that are responsible for green tea’s many health benefits. 

Green tea originated in China and spread quickly across Asia, and is now a popular tea all over the globe. Green tea has been used extensively in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine due to its healing properties. Though more research is required to learn about the extent of green tea’s medicinal value, it is known to be one of the healthiest drinks in the world. Packed with antioxidants which fight free radicals in the bloodstream, polyphenols, which have strong anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties, and catechins like EGCG, which helps prevent cell damage. 

In natural medicine, green tea has been used to promote heart health, prevent cancer and stroke, lower cholesterol, and contribute to weight loss. Green tea is believed to help improve memory function, and may help reduce the risk of Alzhiemer’s disease. Green tea has also been used in traditional natural medicine, to treat skin disorders like psoriasis, dandruff, and general skin inflammation. 

Green tea is a rich source of caffeine as well, though other than Matcha green tea, the caffeine levels are far lower than what is found in most coffee drinks. Still, green tea can be used as a coffee substitute to provide energy. Green tea has less caffeine than black tea as well, but even with relatively low caffeine numbers, green tea still provides a natural energy from providing a more balanced natural energy minus the jitters. 

Green tea can be found in tea bags which can be steeped in hot water, premade and packaged into bottles with added sugar or other sweeteners, as a loose leaf tea, as a supplement in capsules or a concentrated liquid extract. You can also find green tea in instant form as a powder which can be dissolved in water like instant coffees. 

Which Is Better, Coffee or Green Tea?

When it comes to the health benefits, green tea is the clear winner over coffee. Coffee is no longer considered to be bad for your health in moderate amounts, and it comes with its own share of health benefits to be sure. However, green tea is basically a tonic for your overall health and well-being, and should be consumed as often as possible. 

As far as aroma and flavor, we must give the title to coffee. Though there is a ton of variation in the different types of coffee, some of which are tastier than others, coffee’s unmistakable flavor is complex and brilliant, in many of its various forms. Assuming that we are just comparing regular coffee versus regular green tea, the winner of the taste off is still coffee. There are some green teas available that have a very enjoyable taste. However, coffee still triumphs in terms of aroma and flavor.Whether in reference to the rich, robust, chocolatey, nutty notes found in some medium and dark roasts, or the floral, bright, fruity, acidic punch of light roasts.   

Advantages of Coffee

So what makes coffee preferable to green tea? Here are a few advantages of riding the java wagon: 

  • Coffee is more flavorful than green tea, and more versatile in its flavor as well, as coffee can be flavored with syrups and creamers that add so many options to the way your drink tastes. 
  • Coffee has a higher caffeine content than green tea as well, which means more of an energy boost to help you take on your day. 

Disadvantages of Coffee

Coffee may be versatile, and it may give you an energy boost, but some positives also have negative consequences: 

  • Coffee’s high caffeine content can be a disadvantage for caffeine sensitive people, as it can cause anxiety and jitteriness. 
  • Coffee requires a more complicated process to brew, which takes longer to clean up than green tea. 
  • Brewing coffee also requires a coffee maker of some kind, which makes it more expensive, at least for the initial investment. 
  • The versatility of coffee can also be a drawback as well, due to the added cost of the various additives many coffee drinkers use to modify their drink. Whereas green tea is usually consumed plain or with a bit of honey for sweetness, coffee often requires milk, creamers, syrups, and sugars that can drive up the cost significantly.  

Health Benefits and Nutrition of Coffee

Here is the basic nutrition information for an eight-ounce cup of black coffee.

  • 2 total calories
  • 94.8 mg caffeine 
  • 0.3 grams of protein
  • 4.7 mg of sodium
  • 2 mg Omega-6 fatty acids
  • 12 percent vitamin B5
  • 14 percent recommended daily value of riboflavin
  • 2 percent recommended daily value of niacin
  • 1 percent recommended daily value of folate
  • 3 percent thiamin
  • 2 percent recommended daily value of magnesium
  • 1 percent recommended daily value of phosphorus
  • 2 percent recommended daily value of potassium
  • 2 percent recommended daily value of manganese

Coffee is low in calories, but does provide the kick of energy coffee drinkers love thanks to the caffeine it contains. Research has shown that drinking coffee boosts brain function both in general and in a variety of small ways, including energy level, memory, mood, reaction time, and vigilance. Coffee drinkers are also 23 to 50 percent less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, 32 to 60 percent less likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and 65 percent less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.The caffeine in coffee also boosts the metabolism and burns fat as well as enhancing physical performance by an average of 11 or 12 percent. To capitalize on these benefits, experts suggest drinking a cup of strong coffee 30 minutes before working out. If you drink four cups of coffee or more each day, you’re simultaneously reducing your risk of cirrhosis of the liver by 80 percent and reducing your risk of depression by 20 percent and suicide by 53 percent. People who drink coffee also get more antioxidants from the beverage than from fruit or vegetables.

Advantages of Green Tea

So what makes green tea so popular? Here are the advantages of drinking green tea: 

  • Green tea is incredibly healthy. It is basically a tonic, or a superfood, but in liquid form. The advantages of green tea’s health benefits cannot be overstated. 
  • Green tea is simple and easy to brew. All you need is green tea bags or loose leaf tea and a strainer, and a hot water source. No expensive devices are required for brewing. 
  • With the simplicity of brewing, comes an easy clean-up process. Making green tea doesn’t make a mess of your kitchen, and what little mess it does create, is easily cleaned in seconds. 
  • Though green tea’s caffeine content is low, it still provides an energy boost. Plus, lower caffeine levels are perfect for people who are sensitive to caffeine but still want a small boost to help them take on the day. 

Disadvantages of Green Tea

All good things have their downsides. Here are some of the drawbacks of green tea.

  • Consuming green tea extract can lead to constipation or upset stomach or, in rare situations, liver or kidney issues. 
  • Drinking more than eight cups of green tea, or drinking green tea for extended periods, can cause side effects linked to the caffeine content that are potentially unsafe. These side effects fall on a spectrum from mild up to serious, including confusion, convulsions, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, heartburn, irregular heartbeat, irritability, nervousness, ringing in the ears, tremors, trouble sleeping, and vomiting.
  • A chemical present in green tea can result in liver injury if the tea is consumed at high doses. Eating food when you take green tea extract can help prevent this side effect.
  • Do not drink  more than six cups each day of green tea if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as doing so can cause miscarriage or other health issues.
  • It is possible that consuming green tea in any amount while pregnant increases the risk of the child having birth defects that are a result of folic acid deficiency.
  • Women who are nursing should moderate their consumption of green tea, not exceeding two or three cups per day, to avoid problems linked to consuming a high amount of caffeine: increased bowel activity for infants that breastfeed, and in the mothers, irritability and sleep issues.
  • Consuming green tea can exacerbate existing anemia.
  • Green tea extract can worsen liver disease and, in rare cases, has been connected to liver damage.
  • Do not drink more than six cups of green tea each day if you have osteoporosis, as doing so can increase loss of calcium in urine.
  • The caffeine green tea contains can exacerbate anxiety, increase risk of bleeding (those with bleeding disorders should not consume), increase risk of irregular heartbeat, cause blood sugar imbalance, make diarrhea worse, increase pressure inside a person’s eye, and increase blood pressure.

Health Benefits and Nutrition of Green Tea

Here is the basic nutrition information for an eight-ounce cup of green tea without sugar, honey, or any additional ingredients.

  • 0 calories
  • 1 percent recommended daily value of sodium
  • 1 percent recommended daily value of potassium
  • 5 percent recommended daily value of phosphorus
  • 1 percent recommended daily value of copper
  • 28.4 mg caffeine

Green tea was historically used in Indian and Chinese folk medicine to treat wounds, maintain a healthy body temperature, control bleeding, promote healthy digestion, improve heart health, and boost mental health. In modern medicine, research has connected green tea with weight loss and the treatment of liver problems, Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes. Green tea also contains polyphenols, which lab and animal studies have linked to a decrease in tumor growth and protection against damage associated with ultraviolet UVB radiation. Consuming green tea as a beverage or in capsules lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. (LDL is colloquially known as the “bad” cholesterol.) Green tea has also been shown to boost mental function—working memory in particular. In 2006, researchers determined that drinking green tea is linked to a reduced mortality rate (regardless of the cause of death), especially reducing deaths from stroke and heart disease.

What To Expect When Switching

If you decide to switch from coffee to green tea, here are a few things that you can expect to experience: 

  • There is a significant dropoff in caffeine content when switching from coffee to green tea, so expect to feel some withdrawals from the reduction in caffeine consumption.
  • The reduction in caffeine has advantages too. Expect to experience a reduction in anxiety and insomnia. 
  • The perks of switching to green tea should be noticeable as well. You should feel better in general, due to the added antioxidants and catechins. The anti-inflammatory effect of green tea should be stronger than that of coffee as well, so you should experience less joint pain due to the switch. 

Finishing Notes (Get It?)

Whether you are a coffee drinker or a green tea drinker, adding a bit of balance could never hurt. If you drink green tea and never drink coffee, there are benefits you are missing out on. The same is certainly true for coffee drinkers who never drink green tea. With all of the health benefits that both beverages offer, it’s strange that there are not more crossover drinkers that drink both coffee and green tea daily. 

Learn More About Coffee and Green Tea

Leave a Comment