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Black Tea vs Coffee: Which Has More Caffeine?

black tea vs coffee caffeine

A majority of Americans start their days with a cup of coffee, while across the pond, the Brits can’t live without black tea. Both of these drinks are made with hot water and plant pieces — coffee beans and tea leaves — but the flavor and caffeine content is very different! So does coffee or black tea have more caffeine, and which drink is healthier?

We’re taking a close look at black tea and coffee. These drinks have more in common than you might think!

The Short Answer
Coffee has about twice as much caffeine as black tea, and both drinks have been shown to help you stay healthy and fight disease.

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What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that occurs naturally in plants like cacao, coffee, and tea. It can make you feel more alert and focused, helping you wake up or stay awake longer.

what is caffeine alert wake up
Image Credit: Jorge Franco, Shutterstock

Caffeine takes one to two hours to reach its full effect on your body. It also has a half-life of about five hours, which means that after five hours, your body has metabolized half of the caffeine. That is why you generally want to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages too late in the day. If you drink a strong cup of coffee or black tea too late in the day, you may have a hard time sleeping.

SEE ALSO: How to Fall Asleep After Drinking Coffee (Tips & Tricks)

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Caffeine in Coffee

The average cup of black coffee has about 95 milligrams of caffeine, and a shot of espresso has about 64 milligrams. The FDA recommends drinking 400 milligrams or less per day, so you can safely drink up to four cups of coffee or six shots of espresso in one day.

RELATED: Try our handy caffeine calculator!

what is caffeine?
Image Credit: danramirez, Pixabay

What about decaf coffee?

Though decaf coffee gets a bad rap, there are quite a few delicious brands on the market these days. Coffee can be decaffeinated through various methods, including the Swiss Water Process and chemical solvents. Without processing, coffee beans all have caffeine in them. There is no naturally-occurring decaf coffee, but you may enjoy the health benefits anyway!

Want to try delicious decaf coffee beans? You can get 50% off our favorite brand, Lifeboost Decaf!

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Caffeine in Black Tea

How much caffeine is there in black tea? A typical cup of black tea has about 47 milligrams of caffeine, or about half as much as coffee. That means you can drink a lot more tea before you encounter any negative caffeine symptoms!

Black tea is made from the leaves of a plant called Camellia sinensis. All four major types of tea are made from the same plant! The difference between white, green, oolong, and black tea comes down to processing. To make black tea, you allow the plant leaves to oxidize, which turns them from green to black.

types of tea leaves
There are many types of tea leaves, but most come from the Camellia sinensis plant. | Image credit: Unsplash

Are there non-caffeinated teas?

Many types of tea don’t contain caffeine. For example, herbal tea, which is made with different herbs and leaves, is typically caffeine-free. If you are looking to avoid caffeine entirely, check the label on your favorite tea — and steer clear of black tea. That includes chai!

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Black Tea vs Coffee: The Bottom Line

So which caffeinated drink should you choose? As coffee lovers, we always recommend a delicious cup of joe. But if you’re looking for a lighter caffeine boost, a cup of black tea may be just the thing. And don’t forget that both drinks have decaffeinated options!

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Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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