- Economic: Tea and coffee both vary in price depending on your source, but many teas (whites, greens and oolongs, and some pu'ers) can be resteeped multiple times using the same leaves, thereby costing less per cup overall than coffee. The spent-leaves can also be used as an excellent mulch/fertilizer for your flower/vegetable garden (though to be fair - so can coffee!)
- Simplicity: To get the best possible flavor out of coffee you must grind your own beans (grinder: $20+) just before brewing and use a coffee machine ($20+) with single-use filters ($5+, recurring). Tea leaves require no preparation, wasteful filters or expensive gizmos in order to extract the best possible flavor - simply drop them in hot water, strain and pour.
- Environmental: Coffee filters can be used only once and are then thrown away. None are needed for tea. Tea companies are also, on the whole, much more involved with eco-friendly, fair-trade and organic projects and processes. The coffee-roasting process also emits particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, organic acids and many gaseous pollutants into the atmosphere. Many types of tea processing involve little more than human labor and sun- or wind-wilting. Baking processes used to complete the drying cycle can emit greenhouse gasses but do so to a far lesser degree than coffee processing, due to the lower temperatures and length of time used in tea processing. Finally, tea weighs much less than coffee, requiring less fossil fuel (on a cup-to-cup basis) to ship and export it around the world.
- Variety: While coffee can be made from multiple types of beans, tea is generally derived only from a single plant. That said, the various methods of preparing and oxidizing tea results in a much wider variety of tastes than you'll find between different blends of coffee.
- Cultural: Almost every culture in the world has a tea tradition of one sort or another, and these traditions are often central to the act of meeting and greeting friends and newcomers. Having an appreciation of tea and tea rituals can often get you past many language or cultural barriers when traveling overseas. After water, tea is the most widely-consumed beverage in the world. (Take that, coffee!)
- Historical: Tea has been widely used since around 2700 B.C.. Coffee, in its present form, has probably only been used since around 800 A.D.. Four thousand years of tea-drinking has to account for something. :)
- Cosmetic: Most teas (greens, whites and many oolongs) won't stain your teeth - black tea will still cause stains, but to a lesser degree than coffee. Some teas have antioxidants and natural fluorides that protect your teeth from cavities - the tannins in black teas hav a bactericide effect that will kill many of the bacteria that can cause cavities (and bad breath!).
- Dietetic: Many coffee-drinkers can't stand the taste on its own, and must add milk, cream, and/or sugar in order to make it palatable. Tea on the other hand is much less harsh/bitter on its own, and is widely enjoyed without additives of any kind. Tea may also help boost metabolism, which can help dieters lose weight faster.
- Novelty: Tea consumption is on the rise in America, but in many places it is still considered a relative "novelty" (at least outside of iced tea and the usual "Lipton" mass-market offerings). Be the first on your block to introduce your friends and family to the wonderfully wide and varied world of tea!
- Health: Coffee has been linked to a handful of health benefits, but it can also lead to hypertension, caffeine-related problems and heart disease. Tea has dozens of proven and widely-suggested health benefits. The following is just a sampling:
- Tea has much less caffeine than coffee - between 25-50% as much.
- Tea contains tannins and catechins which have been associated with cancer and heart disease prevention
- Tea has been shown to act as a stress-reliever.
- Tea contains the polyphenol quercetin, which may interrupt the oxidation of LDL or "bad cholesterol". It may also lower blood pressure and blood sugar, suppress aging, prevent food poisoning and skin disease and act as an anti-viral. Quercetin can also act as a natural COX-2 inhibitor, providing pain-relief similar to pharmeceutical versions like Vioxx and Celebrex.
- Tea decreases triglycerides and free fatty acids in your bloodstream, while coffee contains cafestol, a fat-like chemical that actually can increase your cholesterol levels.
- Tea contains EGCG and theaflavins which can suppress the enzymes required for cancer-cell growth, thereby slowing the progression of some cancers. (Some research suggests that the antioxidants in tea may neutralize this effect, however).
- Tea is a digestive aid, it flushes the digestive system.
- Unlike coffee, tea has almost no carbohydrates, fats or proteins.
- Tea contains L-theanine, which has been shown to boost mental alertness and help the body's immune system.
- Oxalates found in tea can bind with free iron in the bloodstream, which can help the body fight HIV.
- Polyphenols in green tea can reduce intestinal inflammation related to IBD.
- Tea can help prevent diseases like Alzheimer's
- Tea may also be a significant factor in strengthening bones against oseoporosis
- Tea lowers your blood pressure
- Tea can help prevent kidney stones
- Some anti-venom serums have actually been extracted from black tea!
Did I miss any major tea vs. coffee advantages? Let me know via the form below and we'll add it to the list!
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