THE FACTS: Maybe it is a reflection of our constant struggle to ward off sleep or simply the desire for that scintillating buzz that comes from a good cup of joe, but whatever the reason, we are hooked on caffeine. More than 80 percent of Americans consume it in some form every day. Worldwide, it is the most popular drug, far ahead of nicotine and alcohol.
Still, many people who start their day with either of the two most common sources of caffeine – coffee and tea – could probably not tell you with certainty which contains more. The confusion is not surprising. Pound for pound, experts say, tea has more caffeine than coffee. But although a pound of tea leaves often yields several hundred cups of tea, the same quantity of ground beans usually makes fewer than 100 cups of coffee, making it a more potent pick-me-up.
Depending on the blend of tea leaves, the brand and the amount of brewing time, an 8-ounce cup of tea can contain 20 to 90 milligrams of caffeine, while a similar serving of coffee varies from 60 to 180 milligrams. Decaffeinated versions of both drinks have less than 5 milligrams of caffeine, which is about the same as an ounce of milk chocolate. Black tea and green tea are roughly equal.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The average cup of coffee contains more caffeine than a cup of tea.
(By Anahad O’Connor, New York Times News Service, September 2004)