Tea or coffee? The lowdown on the battling brews

Tea or coffee? The lowdown on the battling brews

Posted on 26-11-2019
By Pact Coffee

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This time of year, we rely on hot drinks more than ever. A jolt of caffeine to pull us through those dark mornings, something warm to hold onto when the office heating is on the blink…

So it brings us back to the age-old question: tea or coffee?

Of course, you know our position… but isn’t it about time we took a look at long-standing feud, work out how people feel about both drinks, what the differences are, and maybe - just maybe - come to the conclusion that they can co-exist? We think so.

Tea and Coffee: the facts & figures

We’ll get it out of the way - the UK drinks more tea than it does coffee (100 million cups a day, to coffee’s 70 million). And with 75% of us having at least a cup a day (and 45% having 2-5!), we’re not expecting to see the end of the humble cuppa anytime soon. Nor would we want to!

But… it does look like things are changing. The builder’s brew is less and less the nation’s go-to - with research showing a 2.7% drop in demand, and PG Tips reporting a lack of growth in UK and US markets.

This is partly down to a shift in preference for other types of tea - with herbal teas and cold infusions soaring in demand - but coffee is likely cannibalising some of that market too. Let’s leave it at this: tea and coffee are both pretty popular, despite the fact that they are actually very different products.

What’s the difference?

It’s easy to think of them as like-for-like competitors. After all, they both have caffeine! But that’s sort of like comparing wine and beer - both are delicious and alcoholic and liquid, but that’s sort of where it ends.

What do we know about tea? Tea is made of leaves of a specific plant - plucked, left to wither, rolled or macerated to encourage oxidisation, and oxidised to different levels (depending on whether it’s black, white, green, or oolong tea). The biggest producers are China, India, Sri Lanka and Kenya. It’s got about 40mg of caffeine per cup.

So how about coffee? Coffee starts out as cherries on a tree - but it’s the pit or bean inside that is what you end up drinking. Cherries are picked when ripe, ‘processed’ which means drying and fermenting the cherries until the bean is extracted. The biggest producers are Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia. There’s about 80-115mg of caffeine per cup, so it’s packing more of a punch.

So, quite a lot of differences. And that’s without touching on how it’s prepared, and the situations that people drink it in! But what people seem to be concerned with is how good either drink is for you.

How ‘healthy’ is tea and coffee?

Turns out, unsurprisingly, that tea and coffee are both understood to have their own benefits to our health. The antioxidants in black tea are thought to help fight inflammation, long-term tea drinkers were found to have improved brain structure in one study, and the compound theanine found in tea was found to have a calming effect on drinkers. Which is why a cuppa is the first port of call in a crisis.

There are a couple of negatives though. Tea has been found to limit iron absorption when taken with a meal, and it’s actually more likely to stain your teeth!

Some research suggests that coffee reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, and is linked with a longer lifespan. A cup of coffee a day is also associated with an 8% less risk of developing depression - despite it not having the same soothing effect as tea. But again, it’s not all good news as coffee was found to make it harder to sleep at night.

But when it comes down to it, there’s much of a muchness. Both tea and coffee were found to reduce the risk of diabetes and be beneficial to your heart’s health. So, you know what? We’re declaring the feud over. Tea and coffee can live peacefully side by side - they’re both got their benefits!

Introducing our new partner: teapigs

This is probably a good time to bring this up - we’re now partnering with teapigs, because we know that offices want choice. And that’s ok. We wanted to work with a team that’s on the same page with us though, about flavour and ethics, so teapigs were the perfect fit.

62% of consumers care that their tea is ethical. The ethical scheme teapigs runs supports orphans and vulnerable young people in Rwanda, and they run a disability program that provides assisted housing for children and young adults too. They also donate towards the ‘hidden costs’ of schooling - like uniforms, lunches, books, and transport. Basically, they’re doing a lot of good.

They also care a lot about sustainability and being environmentally friendly. They’re certified plastic-free, use only compostable and recyclable packaging, Rainforest Alliance-ceritified, and part of The Ethical Tea Partnership.

And it goes without saying, their tea is top-notch. They only use whole tea leaves, herbs, berries, flowers and spices - unlike most tea providers who include all sort of dusty, twiggy bits in there. They also have a whopping total of 96 Great Taste awards under their belt…

With their wide range of teas - from traditional black tea to herbal, naturally flavoured blends - they’ll suit your team to a tea. With the herbal sector booming and tea companies finding 24-35s to be their biggest growing market, they’re sure to keep your team happy.

Pact Coffee and teapigs together. Peace at last.