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Which is better - Tea or Coffee?

Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world, after water – historically the UK has been a nation of Tea drinkers – this has changed dramatically over the past 15 years, but still tea is one of the most consumed beverages in the world.

Both beverages have been around for a long time. According to a legend, tea was discovered by the Emperor of China in 2737 BC while he was boiling water under a tree. When leaves fell into the boiling water, he tasted it and was surprised by its goodness. Consequently tea became popular among priests and scholars in China and Japan, who drank tea to stay awake, study or meditate. Tea has also been widely associated with mindfulness, spirituality and solid health.

On the other hand coffee appeared much later and is believed to have originated in the Ethiopian highlands where legend says a goatherd named Kaldi noticed his goats became hyperactive after eating certain berries from a tree. Coffee then spread to monks at monasteries, where they drank the beverage to keep them alert while praying. From there it spread across the Arabian Peninsula.

Both coffee and tea were Eastern beverages, not arriving in Europe until much later. Coffee only arrived in Europe by the 17th century.

Both beverages have their benefits, though it’s always hard to pinpoint exactly what those are due to the amount of contradictory studies. There are specific benefits to coffee, in which studies have shown that coffee has the ability to reduce diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s and even type 2 diabetes. Caffeine also supposedly helps in constricting blood vessels in the brain thereby reducing migraines and alleviating hangovers.

Tea, on the other hand, is filled with antioxidants which have potential cancer fighting properties. According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, tea contains polyphenol compounds, which are antioxidants that might aid in cancer prevention. Tea has also long been known as a therapeutic or medical drink that has both soothing and rejuvenating qualities.

However, other studies associate having too much caffeine and drinking coffee and tea with increased anxiety, tachycardia, heart palpitations, insomnia, restlessness and nausea. If high amounts of unfiltered coffee are used, the chances of higher levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol, Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) can be increased. Some Tea, on the other hand, contains fluoride which while good for dental health, can also be linked to a risk of brittle bones and even osteoporosis.

Ever feel like you can’t get a straight answer – the old adage of ‘everything in moderation’ can be observed here, but definitely leave out the cream and three sugars – they are definitely bad for you (aren’t they?)

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