Is it Tea or Coffee, you prefer?-By Dr Harold Gunatillake

Harold Gunatillake

Let us talk on the subject.
All of us drink either both or one preferred beverage daily.
Let us talk about what benefits they give us, and harm they can cause.
According to Tea Association of the US, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world and sorry to say it is not your cup of Jo.
It is the only beverage that can be served hot or cold, and perfect for any occasion. On any given day, over 159 million Americans are sipping on some form of tea. Before that let us find the historical story about the discovery of tea. According to Chinese legend, the history of tea began in 2737 B.C.E. when the Emperor Shen Nong, a skilled ruler and scientist, accidentally discovered tea. While boiling water in the garden, a leaf from an overhanging wild tea tree drifted into his pot. Historical records also reveal that tea originated in the Yunnan region during the Shang dynasty as a medicinal drink. An early credible record of tea drinking dates to the 3rd century AD, in a medical text written by Hua Tuo. Drinking tea became popular in Britain during the 17th century. The British introduced tea production, as well as tea consumption, to India and Sri Lanka, to compete with the Chinesemonopoly on tea.
During the Sui dynasty in China, tea was introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks. Tea use spread during the 6th century AD. Tea became a drink of the religious classes in Japan when Japanese priests and envoys, sent to China to learn about its culture, brought tea to Japan. Ancient recordings indicate the first batch of tea seeds were brought by a priest named Saichō in 805 and then by another named Kūkai in 806. It became a drink of the royal classes when Emperor Saga encouraged the growth of tea plants. Seeds were imported from China, and
cultivation in Japan began.

James Taylor is the pioneer of Ceylon Tea. Arriving in Ceylon in 1852 as a 17-year-old, he was billeted at Loolecondera Estate in Galaha, a coffee plantation in the Kandy District. With the onset of the coffee rust disease, Taylor visited India in 1866 to learn about growing tea. Tea drinkers love Ceylon Tea for its rich flavor and fragrant aroma.

Coffee on the other hand grown worldwide can trace its heritage back centuries to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau. There, legend says the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the potential of these beloved beans. Today, the best coffee comes from Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, and Yemen. Both tea and coffee are stimulant drinks mainly due to the caffeine component, a potent stimulant that is found in various ratios, and in soft drinks. Most of the caffeine in soft drinks comes from the factories in China. Naturally extracted
caffeine is burned out from heated-up coffee beans. But most of the caffeine used in soft drinks is synthetically produced in Chinese pharmaceutical plants.
Tea leaves contain 3.5% caffeine, while coffee beans have 1.1-2.2% per seed. Typically, you find more coffee beans in a cup of coffee than use tea leaves in a cup of tea.
Therefore, 1 cup (237ml) of brewed coffee generally has more caffeine than a cup of tea. Black tea has the most caffeine of all the tea types, because black tea is oxidized, it allows more caffeine to be extracted from the leaf verses other types of tea, also undergoes high temperatures, typically boiling. Fortunately, nutrients and minerals don’t get degraded by heat, and the flavonoid compounds in tea are not broken down during the production of the tea and in the cup we drink.
There are other factors that influence the caffeine content in tea, including which part of the plant the leaf comes from, altitude and local conditions, leaf grade, type of tea, fertilizer used, among others.
Assamica tea variety is higher in caffeine than other varieties. These teas are grown in Sri Lanka.
The Chinese “camelia” variety of tea leaves tend to be lower in caffeine.
Let us check how much caffeine is there in a cup of coffee.
The average caffeine content of an 8 oz, brewed cup of coffee is 95 mg. A single espressobased drink contains 63 mg and decaf coffee contains about 3 mg of caffeine. For a healthy adult FDA has recommended 400 mgs of caffeine a day. That amounts to 4-5 cups of coffee day.
Caffeine is a stimulant and the most used drug in the world that can make you addicted to. Caffeine has a temporary sense of wakefulness and alertness. Some people can get an increased feeling of agitation. It increases the release of acid in the stomach and may lead to heartburn when you take it in the morning on an empty stomach. For cardiovascular disease, filtered coffee was linked to a 12% lower risk of death for men
and a 20% lower risk of death for women compared with no coffee. Can you drink coffee when you have heart disease? It appears that, in the large majority of people moderate coffee drinking- 1 to 4 cups a day, is not detrimental to cardiac health, and in some cases may even be beneficial. Caffeine causes short-term increases in blood pressure and sympathetic nervous activity that could trigger a heart attack.
Research in the September issue of Epidemiology suggests coffee can trigger a heart attack within an hour in some people. As a result of these findings,”people at high risk for a heart attack who are occasional or regular coffee drinkers might consider quitting coffee altogether”- says researcher Ana Baylin, a research associate at Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, RI, in a news release.
“For people with multiple risk factors for a heart attack and those who have a sedentary lifestyle, a cup of coffee could be the final straw,” says Ahmed El-Sohemy, PhD, an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada.
Coffee drinkers may be at decreased risk for Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers.
Caffeine is found naturally in some foods. It is naturally found in the fruit, leaves and beans of coffee, cacao, and guarana plants. It is also added to beverages and supplements.
In Chocolate, caffeine is naturally found in cocoa beans, so most chocolate has at least some
of the energy-boosting compound. …
Other foods that have caffeine are:
Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt. …
Breakfast Cereals. …
Pudding. …
Hot Cocoa. …
PMS Medications. …
Headache Remedies.
An advantage of drinking tea is over its theobromine content that has not got in coffee.
Theobromine is highest in black tea 1.64-1.69 mg/g and at least in oolong teas 0.65and 0.71mg/g.
Theophylline is used to prevent and treat wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness, in asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It relaxes and opens air passages in the lungs, making it easier to breathe.
This is the advantage of tea drinking especially for those having bronchial problems. Coffee vs. Tea A hot cup of coffee can perk you up in the morning. A soothing cup of tea can help you relax after a stressful day. The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer recently took coffee off its list of suspected carcinogens, and some research suggests it could help keep colon cancer from coming back after treatment. Other studies suggest drinking coffee might stave off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Tea drinkers have lower risk of skin, breast, and prostate cancers. Tea, especially the green tea is rich in compounds like antioxidants which can limit cell damage and boost your immune system. Polyphenols in tea can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. It also has a beneficial effect in Alzheimer’s disease through a polyphenol known as EGCG, which prevents the formation of plaques that are linked to that brain damaging illness- Alzheimer’s. Drinking more than one cup of tea daily helps to build less calcium in arterial plaques that can lead to heart disease. Green and black tea provide similar health benefits, including for your heart and brain.Both green and black tea contains caffeine and L-theanine, that have calming effect, promoting relaxation without drowsiness.
L-theanine is an amino acid found most in tea leaves. It is found in both green and black tea.
Tannins in tea: Tea has tannin in addition to theanine, which also has a calming effect.
Tannin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Tea tannin can cause nausea,especially when tea is taken on empty stomach. They hinder the body’s ability to absorb iron from certain foods.
Tannins are found in coffee, wine and chocolate. Between tea and coffee the choice is yours, but from a health point of view, tea has more benefits.
Hope this video talk was useful.
Take care, and goodbye for now.


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