understanding the caffeine in tea vs coffee

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caffeine is a bit of a double-edged sword that comes with energy as well as some health concerns. that’s probably the reason we find ourselves discussing its content in two of aussie favourites – tea and coffee. the strength of caffeine in tea vs coffee is a topic of an ongoing debate, showing no signs of ending. a perpetual discussion within our caffeine culture down under!

so, here we are with some facts and figures to fuel your discussion, the next time you engage in one, with your mates. let’s keep digging into the facts on caffeine in tea vs coffee for the sake of our health.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a natural drug that stimulates our central nervous system. In the process, it accelerates communication between our brain and nervous system.

Caffeine is in many snacks and beverages, including coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolates. Of course, coffee and tea are the go-to options when we need a caffeine fix. The amount of caffeine from coffee vs tea varies depending on the product.  

Soon after you consume something high in caffeine, the caffeine rapidly moves into your bloodstream. Roughly, within 20 minutes to an hour. Once in the brain, it starts blocking a neurotransmitter called adenosine – a chemical compound that helps you sleep. With caffeine onboard, it’s the party central for other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. These guys give you real lift and get you performing at your best.

caffeine in tea vs coffee: an overview

many of us reach for a cup of coffee or tea to battle the morning lethargy or to stay alert during the day. yet not many notice the differences in caffeine from coffee vs tea.

while coffee shakes us out of lethargy, tea gives a gentle and sustained boost. this distinct action of caffeine from coffee vs tea makes tea a favourable choice for sustained alertness without the inevitable energy crash. 

but let's not stop there – it’s time to go deeper into our comparison of caffeine in tea vs coffee. our goal is to uncover the crucial elements that influence the potency of caffeine in coffee vs tea. it's all about understanding the underlying factors at play.

so, let’s start with the type of tea or coffee bean in question – black or green tea? arabica or robusta coffee? these factors set the baseline for caffeine levels.

then comes the brewing process – water temperature, how long you let it brew, and the amount of tea leaves or coffee grounds you use – all play their part.

in short, these variables define the evaluation of caffeine in tea vs coffee. we’ll observe how tweaking them affects the final strength of your brew.

Caffeine in Coffee

to gain a better understanding of caffeine in tea vs coffee, let's consider coffee first. the caffeine content in coffee depends on several factors, including the type of coffee beans, their grind, preparation method and the amount of coffee used. so, let’s lay the groundwork for an accurate comparison of caffeine in tea vs coffee.

type of bean:

there are over 120 types of coffee beans but mostly arabica and robusta are brewed. out of the two arabica beans are the most popular globally.

that’s because arabica beans taste better and generally contain less caffeine compared to robusta beans. the caffeine content in arabica beans is about 1.3g per 100 grams of beans while same quantity of robusta beans have about 2.5g.

grind size:

the grind size and brewing time also contribute to caffeine extraction. finer grinds increase the surface area exposed to water, resulting in a quicker extraction and higher caffeine content. plus, hotter water tends to extract more caffeine.

preparation style:

whether you prefer a flat white over a latte, the next time you order your coffee, consider the caffeine kick you’re after. and as you enjoy your brew, maybe give a thought to the difference between caffeine in coffee vs tea.

a flat white is typically made with a double shot of espresso, offering a caffeine content of about 136mg per serve. meanwhile, a latte, with just one shot, keeps it milder at around 68mg. this means you'll get a bigger caffeine kick from your flat white!

by the way, if you substitute the regular espresso in your flat white with moka pot coffee, the caffeine content is halved.

Caffeine in Tea

time to get the tea side of the story to complete our comparison of caffeine in tea vs coffee. so, let’s go a little deeper to understand the caffeine content in tea.

type of tea leaves

the amount of caffeine in tea can vary quite a bit, just like with coffee. there are several factors, but for starters, let’s see how the type of tea you're drinking affects it.

so, imagine you've got this 180ml cup of black tea – you're looking at around 50mg of caffeine. a quick comparison of caffeine in tea vs coffee shows, that's less than half of what you'd typically get in your regular brewed coffee.

now, replace that with some oolong tea in a cup about the same size, you're looking at roughly 30-40mg of caffeine while green tea is on the lighter side, hitting around 20-30mg. and for the tea with the least kick, it’s that cup of white tea with just 15-20mg.

let's take another look at caffeine in tea vs coffee, but this time with herbal teas. the result? the comparison reveals a fascinating contrast with these caffeine free teas or herbal tisanes.

surprisingly, yerba mate, even though it's not from camelia sinensis, has caffeine content almost as much as coffee.


moving on to processing – crushed leaves mean a bit more caffeine, but if the leaves are unbroken, your brew keeps it easy on the kick.

steeping methods and water temperature:

hot water? well, that increases the caffeine content, especially in black teas that need boiling water to steep the tea well.

apart from water temperature, steep time also matters. the longer you steep, the bolder the tea. and, of course, the quantity of tea leaves – more leaves = more buzz.

brewing methods and caffeine extraction

let's explore how brewing methods affect the extraction of caffeine in coffee vs tea. ever had that strong, concentrated shot of espresso? it's like a tiny caffeine concentrate, packing about 63mg in 30ml because of the high-pressure hot water used in the process. the quick extraction from finely-ground coffee leads to a strong flavour profile.

some of the other brewing methods are cold brew, drip (or filtered) coffee and french press. cold brew, steeped slowly in cold water for 12-24 hours, produces a smoother coffee even though the caffeine levels are around 180-200mg per cup. among the other, two french press coffee has slightly less caffeine than drip coffee.

similar results are seen in the case of tea. steeping techniques heavily impact the caffeine content in tea also, a 3-minute brew delivers a modest 20-40mg of caffeine, while extending it to 5 minutes increases the caffeine to 40-60mg in a cup. however, there's a point of diminishing returns with extended steeping.

additionally, water temperature matters too – hotter (around 100°c) water extracts more caffeine. lastly, tweaking the tea-to-water ratio also makes an impact, as more leaves mean more caffeine while fewer mean lesser.

How Much Caffeine is Too Much for Your Body?

Caffeine is a natural pick-me-up that can give you a buzz and improve your performance. But too much of a good thing can be bad for you. So, how much is too much? The answer is usually different for everyone. It depends on your age, weight, overall health and how sensitive you’re to caffeine.

But most experts reckon that you shouldn’t have more than 400 milligrams of caffeine in a day. To put it into context, 400 milligrams of caffeine in tea vs coffee or energy shots or fizzy drinks:

  • Two cups of strong tea
  • Four cups of brewed coffee
  • Two energy shots
  • 10 cans of fizzy drink

But remember that different brands have different caffeine contents.

And, how you consume caffeine from coffee vs tea can affect how quickly your body absorbs and processes it. For example, if you have coffee on an empty stomach, you'll get a bigger buzz than if you have it with food.

So, what happens if you have too much caffeine? You might get the jitters, feel anxious, have a fast heartbeat, get headaches, or have trouble sleeping. You might also get tummy troubles like pain, nausea or the runs.

Tea vs Coffee – Which One Should You Drink?

Tea vs Coffee – that’s been debated over countless cups. Is there a true champion of the caffeine world? Well, grab a brew and let's dive in to find out which one you should be drinking.


When it comes to taste, it's all about personal preference. Coffee lovers enjoy a strong, bitter hit while tea drinkers prefer a more delicate and herbal flavour. It’s all about taste and not much room for a consideration of caffeine in coffee vs tea.

Effects of Caffeine in Tea vs Coffee

The effects of caffeine in tea vs coffee can differ. Some people may find that they experience these side effects more strongly with coffee than with tea. 

Health Benefits of Caffeine in Tea vs Coffee

The health perks of caffeine in tea vs coffee can vary depending on a few things such as the type of tea or coffee you're drinking. Also, on how much you're consuming and your own individual metabolism and health status.

Tea may reduce the risk of heart disease, promote weight loss, and improve gut health. Drinking coffee can help improve cognitive function.

Amount of Caffeine in Tea vs Coffee

Now let’s talk caffeine in tea vs coffee. For those who are sensitive to caffeine, choosing tea over coffee can be a wise choice, as the caffeine in tea vs coffee is typically less potent. When comparing the amount of caffeine in tea vs coffee, it's also important to note that the preparation style of the drink can greatly affect the caffeine from coffee vs tea.

Next time you’re out shopping for your brew, consider the above to decide which one you should be drinking.


let's wrap up our little discussion on caffeine in tea vs coffee. it’s clear that figuring out which one has more caffeine isn’t straightforward as several factors impact the strength of both drinks.

that said, caffeine in tea vs coffee is generally less potent. additionally, there’s a difference between caffeine from coffee vs tea, as coffee delivers a quick boost while tea offers a more gradual lift, giving a more balanced caffeine experience.

that's it for now, but keep this discussion going!

FAQs Related to Caffeine in Tea vs Coffee

Q. How much caffeine is in tea vs coffee?

A. when comparing the amount of caffeine in tea vs coffee per milligram, tea appears stronger. but, when comparing caffeine from coffee vs tea in terms of a cup, coffee appears stronger at 95mg against tea at 25-60mg. however, these numbers can change with the brewing methods, and coffee beans or tea leaves used in the process.

Q. which tea has the least caffeine?

A. among camellia sinensis tea varieties, white tea has the lowest caffeine content, ranging from about 20-30mg per cup. however, if the herbal teas are also included, you get teas that are caffeine free. herbal teas (tisanes) are from sources that are naturally caffeine-free.

Q. Which is stronger – coffee or tea?

A. the level of caffeine in coffee vs tea defines their strength. coffee takes the lead with around 95mg per cup compared to around 25-60mg per cup in tea. yet, it's essential to consider additional factors when evaluating caffeine in tea vs coffee, such as brewing methods and serving sizes.

Q. How much caffeine can I have in a day?

A. for a daily caffeine intake, the general guideline is 200-400mg, roughly 2-4 cups of coffee or 4-8 cups of tea. however, it’s smarter to evaluate personal sensitivity to caffeine from tea vs coffee, to prevent potential side effects like insomnia or jitteriness.

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