Caffeine Levels In Tea Versus Coffee

By:    Published: June 11, 2012

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Many of us need some kind of caffeine fix during the day, and fortunately research has shown that caffeine can actually be good for your health in some ways. However, there’s still some confusion over how much caffeine is in different drinks – specifically coffee versus tea – and which one is better for you.

Caffeine Levels Compared

Many people know that both coffee and tea can be used to get some much needed caffeine to help you start your mornings. However, what many people don’t realize is that the caffeine content differs greatly between the two beverages.

Below are the caffeine levels for different types of coffee in milligrams (mg). All of the following caffeine levels are based on an 8-ounce serving:

  • Generic, brewed (95-200 mg)
  • Generic, instant (27-173 mg)
  • McDonald’s brewed (50 mg)
  • McDonald’s mocha frappe (62 mg)
  • Starbucks latte (75 mg)
  • Starbucks Pike Place (165 mg)

Below are the caffeine levels for different types of tea. All of the following caffeine levels are based on an 8-ounce serving:

  • Black tea (14-61 mg)
  • Green tea (24-40 mg)
  • Generic iced tea, instant (26 mg)
  • AriZona iced tea, lemon (11 mg)
  • Lipton iced tea, lemon (5-7 mg)

As noted in the data above, coffee generally contains much more caffeine per 8-ounce serving when compared to tea. However, it’s important to note that there are exceptions to this rule. For example, generic instant coffee can have a caffeine level as low as 27 mg per 8-ounce serving, while an 8-ounce cup of black tea could potentially have more than twice that level of caffeine. Therefore, it’s prudent to always check the nutrition facts or product label for caffeine content very carefully when purchasing or ordering coffee or tea.

Caffeine And Your Health

There have been several positive health effects linked to drinking coffee, including a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, gallstones, liver cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Meanwhile, tea is packed with powerful antioxidants which can help fight off viruses and reduce the risk of many types of cancers. Meanwhile, caffeine in general is known to stimulate the central nervous system so you feel less fatigued and more alert and focused. Both coffee and tea can be good for your health, but what about the side effects from the caffeine?

Research has shown that the caffeine in coffee and tea can be good for you. In fact, caffeine can help to slightly reduce your appetite. With tea, however, green tea is the best for losing weight because the levels of antioxidants and caffeine in this beverage have been shown to help shrink fat cells and make muscle cells more active. (To learn more about the benefits of green tea, check out Health Benefits Of Drinking Green Tea.)

Caffeine in coffee also has its benefits, however. In one study, men who drank 2.5 cups of coffee before working out were able to sprint longer than those who didn’t. The supercharged workouts that these men experienced was a result of the way in which caffeine in coffee helps to stimulate the muscles and make it possible to complete longer and more difficult workouts.

Tips For Caffeine Intake

Whether you are a coffee drinker or a tea drinker, it’s important to keep a few things in mind when you are reaching for your caffeine boost for the day. The most important is the recommended amount of caffeine intake for adults, which is 200 to 300 mg per day (young children shouldn’t consume caffeine regularly, and adolescents should stop at 100 mg per day). Depending on what type of drink you’re consuming, that can significantly alter how many 8-ounce servings you should have per day.

For example, the recommendation of 200-300 mg per day limits you to 3-4 Starbucks lattes a day. On the other hand, you could drink 10 or 11 cups of green tea before reaching your daily limit. The key here is to find out exactly how much caffeine is in each serving of coffee or tea and set your limit for the day accordingly. On the other hand, you can also switch to decaf for your coffee or tea fix – but keep in mind that even decaf contains small amounts of caffeine.

If you’re currently drinking too much caffeine, slowly reduce the amount you’re consuming daily. You need to make sure you make the change gradually – your body needs time to adjust to getting lower levels of caffeine in order to avoid going through withdrawal effects.

Bottom Line

In short, the caffeine in coffee and tea is generally not a health risk. Meanwhile, your body may even experience health benefits from consuming these drinks. Just be careful about how much caffeine you’re consuming by checking labels carefully. If you commonly experience nervousness, restlessness, insomnia, stomach upset, a fast heartbeat or general irritability, these may be signs that you are a consuming too much caffeine.

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