Battle of the Brews – Tea vs. Coffee

Whether you're a coffee drinker or a tea drinker, the tea vs. coffee showdown has been raging for centuries and there seems the enmity between the two will rage on forever. Today, the debate is as strong as ever, with a dramatic increase in popularity in the US of herbal teas such as green tea, black tea, white tea, Oolong tea, and Camellia sinensis. Though both tea and coffee contribute to your caffeine intake, the new teas on the block are proven to offer many health benefits over coffee. These health benefits are believed to include antioxidants, help with weight loss, heart disease and blood pressure. However, in order to truly analyze the brew battle between the two, one has to consider their histories. If you are a lover of coffee or tea, read on…

History of the Tea vs. Coffee War

The old English elites were always drinking tea, because tea has come to symbolize the British rule and the huge tax imposed on the drink even makes it a status symbol only for the rich. Americans were known to prefer a cup of coffee over tea, and the war of independence forced the American to distance themselves from the Britons by consuming coffee just like the French. In the 11-16th century, French tea was so scarce and even more expensive than the coffee and the Americans seem to have collaborated with the French in creating a revolution that would see coffee overtake tea in acceptance and affordability.

Despite the American’s love for coffee, it has been more than 5000 years since the coffee revolution. Today, the coffee is the second most consumed beverage after water. Ironically, the consumption of tea has seen a 10% annual increase in the past few years, with more than 158 million Americans enjoying one form of tea or another. In the past 5 years, total sales in tea products have increased by 15% and the total tea production in the world has increased to 4.3 million tons annually. Tea seems to have come in as the winner, when it comes to numbers, especially with about 5.9 billion cups consumed daily, as compared with 2.2 billion cups of coffee.

Brewing Costs of Tea and Coffee

The brewing cost of coffee and tea also seem to have contributed to the battle of the brews. Price and preparation conditions have great influence on the brewing of tea and coffee. Generally, the more exotic the beans used in brewing the tea or coffee, the higher the costs of brewing. The price tiers for brewing the tea seems to be much lower than those for brewing the coffee. In another situation, certain teas have to be steeped multiple times and that may force the prices to go up quickly. In order to get the best from your coffee, you will need a grinder. Getting a coffee machine plus single use filters can add quickly to the cost of brewing a coffee. When it comes to price, however, tea seems to have taken a clear lead because brewing a tea is generally cheaper than brewing the coffee. Likewise, coffee requires more complex machines for brewing than tea does.


Coffee seems to have a more bitter taste than tea, and most people consume it with added cream or sugar. These additions can add quickly to the price of brewing. However, though instant coffee makers can take some of the stress out of brewing coffee, still it cannot be compared with putting a teabag in hot water. For these reasons, it is clear that the tea has won the battle based on the taste and possibility of consuming it without any added sugar or cream that can add quickly to the costs of brewing.

The Moral Considerations

Both tea and coffee are regarded as commodities that must first be harvested, processed and then brewed or sold around the world. For this reason, the preparation procedures will come up. The fact that coffee requires more procedures to produce means it will make more impact on the environment than the tea. Industrial coffee roasting will involve the release of certain volatile compounds into the atmosphere while the production of tea will require manual processing. The complete drying of tea will involve the emission of certain gases that can trap greenhouse gases. Tea weighs less than coffee, hence it will require less storage. Both tea and coffee can be stored very well in their dry form but with all other considerations, it seems the tea has won the war based on production, preparation, and storage—even before brewing.

It may cost much less to brew tea than to brew coffee; however, it all borders down on the individual preferences. Tea may not offer as much flavor as coffee, but when it comes to health consideration, tea seems to take a clear lead because of its numerous compositions. This, however, does not mean that all teas are beneficial to humans.

Posted in Tea