Coffee vs Tea for Productivity: Which Drink is Better for Work or Study?

Catherine Tabuena
Apr 16 · 5 min read

If you’re trying to figure out which pick-me-up you should be drinking in the morning, you’re not alone.

Coffee vs Tea. Beans vs Leaves.

It’s a battle as old as time, a debate that spans millenniums, and everyone (including your great-great-great-grandparents) has an opinion.

Have you ever wondered which drink is better for your overall productivity?

It’s common knowledge that coffee is the de facto drink of choice for many students and office workers.

Look around you, coffee is everywhere.

Every office and conference room have a (rather gross) communal coffee machine, every student lounge has a Tupperware-filled collection of various instant coffee mixes.

And, there seem to be at least three Starbucks locations within a five-mile radius.

(Don’t believe me? Here’s a map. Welcome to the United States of Starbucks!)

However, there’s a growing trend of coffee drinkers switching to tea, and they’re constantly raving about tea’s ability to enhance their brain power.

So, which one is better for work or study?

Let’s decide once and for all which drink reigns supreme.


Benefits of Coffee — Coffee vs Tea for Productivity

1. Increased energy and improved performance

Like any stimulant, caffeine increases alertness and decreases fatigue.

According to one study, caffeine has been shown to improve performance on a range of different tasks, including information processing, response time, vigilance, and some proofreading tasks.

However, the improvement measured is small.

Another study found the stimulant to improve the speed or accuracy of logical reasoning.

The best way to intake caffeine is to consume it in small doses throughout the day.

Neuroscientist Steven L. Miller recommends drinking coffee during one’s cortisol level peak (science speak for those times when you feel naturally energized).

For most people, the best time to drink coffee is at approximately 8 to 9 am, then from 12 to 1 pm, and again from 5:30 to 6:30 pm.

Disadvantages of Coffee- Coffee vs Tea for Productivity

1. Caffeine is known to increase anxiety

Although a cup of joe can improve alertness, sometimes it isn’t worth the effort to enhance your performance by using coffee.

Some people will feel its short-term benefits will be offset by increased anxiety, headaches, twitching, and possible vomiting.

When the buzz wears off, withdrawal symptoms may worsen your ability to focus and concentrate.

2. Coffee has a laxative effect

It’s been proven that coffee can make some people poop.

Unfortunately, I’m among the 30% of people who feel the need to “unload the cart” after their morning cuppa.

It became even more of a bummer after I found out that this is more common with women than men, with 53% of women and only 19% of men in a classic study reporting on its laxative effect.

3. The biggest difference between coffee and tea is its effect on one’s sleep

Coffee drinkers usually find it more difficult to snooze off at night, possibly due to higher caffeine content.

4. Coffee might increase your weight

If you’ve been trying to shed off the pounds, you might want to avoid excessive coffee intake.

Australian researchers found that drinking five cups of coffee daily may lead to weight gain.

There are also lots of blended coffee beverages loaded with fat and sugar. Thankfully, many major coffee chains like Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Starbucks have healthier drink options on their menu.


Benefits of Tea — Coffee vs Tea for Productivity

1. Tea is easier to make

The obvious benefit of tea over coffee is that it’s easier to make.

Simply place a teabag in a mug of hot water, remove after two to three minutes, and you’re done.

Undoubtedly instant coffee makes it relatively easy to brew yourself some java, but with so many gourmet coffee shops and the apparent pretentiousness of café culture, instant coffee drinkers may be viewed poorly as coffee amateurs.

2. Less Caffeine

While tea has the same amount of caffeine as coffee, it doesn’t give the same amount of jolt.

According to the Center for Science In Public Interest, black tea has approximately half the caffeine of an eight-ounce cup of regular brewed coffee. Green tea contains less, and herbal tea has zilch.

If you want something that’ll keep you going through the day, tea is the better choice.

3. It’s a Superfood

Whether it's black, green, white, or oolong, tea is considered a superfood.

The drink is chock full of antioxidants, substances that can prevent or delay certain types of cell damage. These antioxidants help keep your body looking and feeling great.

4. Green Tea Can Help You Lose Weight

The nutrients and potent antioxidants found in green tea can help you lose weight.

For students trying to shed off the dreaded “Freshman 15”, green tea may provide valuable support for healthy weight loss in conjunction with diet and regular exercise.

5. Green Tea Helps Improve Your Memory

A study from the University of Basel found evidence that green tea extract improves cognitive functions, especially the working memory.

The researchers saw enhanced connectivity between the parietal and frontal cortex of the brain, meaning that green tea may increase your ability to learn and remember data.

6. For Stress-Relief and Better Sleep

A cup of char is shown to reduce stress and aid in better sleep.

Researchers from the University of Surrey observed that tea drinkers had longer, and more restful slumbers compared to coffee drinkers. There’s also a calming effect associated with the ritual of putting the kettle on.

Chamomile tea is the best drink for stress relief due to its calming and mild sedative effect. The drink can lessen work-related stress or test-day anxieties.

Disadvantages of Tea- Coffee vs Tea for Productivity

1. Tea Still Has Caffeine (Just Less of It)

Although it doesn’t have the same kick as coffee, tea contains caffeine which can make you jittery, nervous, nauseated, and cause insomnia.

The content varies by type and brand.

Kombucha tea contains twice the amount of caffeine as black tea, while green and white teas contain less caffeine.

2. You’ll Get Teeth Stains

Tea can stain teeth more than coffee, red wine, and other colored beverages.

Most dentists agree that tea’s natural pigments are more likely to adhere to your pearly whites than coffee’s due to its higher tannin content.

It gets especially worse if you use a mouthwash containing chlorhexidine, which attracts and binds stains to your teeth at microscopic levels.


Overall, Tea Is Better for Work or Study

The verdict is in, tea clearly has more benefits for students and employees.

Not only does tea have more health benefits but it also improves mental alertness, information processing, and memory, all important for acing exams and writing impressive business reports.

Now that you know who won the battle of coffee vs tea for productivity, sit back, relax, and enjoy a sip of hot or iced tea.

Make tea your new secret weapon for ultimate productivity today.

Catherine Tabuena

Written by

I’m a content writer, e-book ghostwriter, and former professional singer. http://ctcontentwriter.com/

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade