Perspectives: Coffee vs. tea

Perspectives: Coffee vs. tea
There’s a latte to love about coffee
There is something indescribable about the experience of walking through a glass door to have one’s nose fervently greeted by the fantastic smell of a fresh brew. (Charlie Wang)

As the leaves change color and the air takes on a crisper chill, there’s one thing every coffee lover eagerly anticipates — Starbucks’ fall coffee drinks. It’s that time of the year when Starbucks unveils its delectable autumn-themed beverages, igniting a sense of cozy warmth and pumpkin-spiced euphoria. Later arrives chestnut, gingerbread and sugar cookie flavors  in time for the holiday season. And it’s no surprise that it is the pumpkin spice latte and the peppermint mocha, two coffee-based drinks, take center stage in this time of peak comfort.

There is something indescribable about the experience of walking through a glass door to have one’s nose fervently greeted by the fantastic smell of a fresh brew. Though establishments such as Peets Coffee + Tea provide customers with both, as the name suggests, coffee and tea, I’ve found such chains to lack the depth that coffee-specific stores share.

Drinking the beverage at an institution specially curated to deliver the optimal coffee experience is something incomparable to anything else. It is more than a thing of aesthetics: savoring a mug in an atmosphere that can only be described as coffee-infused never fails to give me a boost in energy, but more importantly, morale.

From the vibrant and zesty notes of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to the deep, chocolatey richness of Colombian brews, if you want to savor a beverage with depth and diversity of flavor, coffee is the clear winner.

With various roasting profiles and brewing methods, coffee can cater to each person’s unique palate. The fruitier blends never appeal to me — but they may to you — but the nuttier specialty roasts found from Brazil have captured my taste buds, and my heart. 

Coffee holds a clear advantage over tea with its elevated caffeine content. It provides a swift and potent energy boost, making it the preferred choice for individuals seeking a morning kickstart or an afternoon pick-me-up. Tea, while certainly caffeinated, cannot rival the boost that coffee delivers. Whether you’re facing a demanding day at work or need that extra push to meet deadlines, coffee’s higher caffeine levels come to the rescue. 

Coffee’s caffeine content goes beyond mere alertness; it extends to enhancing physical performance as well. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts often turn to coffee as a pre-workout beverage. Caffeine raises adrenaline levels and releases fatty acids into the bloodstream, providing the body with an additional source of energy. This property makes coffee an ideal companion for those leading an active lifestyle. Moreover, the caffeine in coffee can significantly enhance mental clarity and focus, making it a preferred choice for students and professionals alike. 

In the ongoing debate between coffee and tea, practical benefits catapult coffee to the forefront. While tea undoubtedly boasts its own merits, the advantages of coffee render it the top pick for those seeking an energizing and flavorful beverage. Whether you’re in need of a quick morning boost, a delightful taste experience or a substantial improvement in mental and physical performance, coffee stands out as the choice for you!

Leaf a healthier life with a cup steeped in happiness
Meanwhile, tea has a soft and refreshing taste that is gentle and not overstimulating, which keeps the mind clear while drinking it. (Charlie Wang)

As I heat up water in my kettle in the morning, readying my supplies to make a nice cup of tea to wake me up, I glance at my dad’s corner of the kitchen stacked with his coffee-making paraphernalia. I briefly think to myself why I drink my leaf-infused water when coffee could jolt me awake quicker. That thought quickly dissipates as I remember why I enjoy tea: the alertness coupled with a sense of calmness. I get my green tea leaves, my favorite type, and put a pinch into my cup.

To me, tea is not just a drink; it’s a lifestyle. The anticipation of a wakening drink of tea in the morning reinforces my fragile sleep schedule and the creation of each drink provides me a chance to think for a bit. Perhaps this brief period of reflection comes from the traditions of tea ceremonies in Asia, which help instill patience, mindfulness and calmness. 

Sipping on my drink, I enjoy the subtle earthy notes in my plain green tea, one of the reasons I far prefer it over coffee. Coffee, although aromatic, has a disruptive cloying bitterness that irks me. Meanwhile, tea has a soft and refreshing taste that is gentle and not overstimulating, which keeps the mind clear while drinking it. Furthermore, dulling coffee’s intense flavor with the addition of milk or sugar requires much more sweetener than tea does, which is unhealthier and overpowers the base aromas of the drink.

During the day, tea keeps me awake but not jittery due to its unique amino acid, L-theanine, which suppresses caffeine’s anxiety-inducing properties while giving a sense of relaxation and calmness. Even with its lower caffeine content, tea creates long-lasting alertness during the day, while coffee causes hyperness with sharp increases of energy which quickly crash, making you feel worse than before. Additionally, tea does not cause the withdrawal symptoms such as headaches or anxiety that not consuming coffee does, sparing you from the thralls of caffeine addiction. 

Even after I get home from school, I can still brew a pot of tea for focus during my study sessions without fearing insomnia during the night. Its lower caffeine content coupled with its calming effect negates any sleeplessness that it may create, while night time coffee drinkers must face the wrath of restlessness that drinking coffee before bed often causes.

Furthermore, drinking black tea and enjoying its bold flavors at dim sums with my relatives connects me to the long Chinese culture of drinking tea and relaxing with family and friends. Sipping some tea gives me a chance to break away from the evergoing conversation and simply listen for a moment, amplifying my enjoyment and appreciation for my relatives and the event as a whole.

While tea’s caffeine content is less than coffee’s, its calming properties and superior flavor make it the perfect drink for anybody who needs long lasting energy to get through the day. At day or night, plain or flavored, hot or cold, tea truly invigorates the body and refreshes the mind.

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