Countless arguments have been waged over the superiority of one beverage over the other. But what does the scientific evidence say?
Caffeine dose is not the whole story: perhaps our expectations also determine how alert we feel
George Orwell may have written that “tea is one of the mainstays of civilization in this country” – but even we British have to acknowledge that our national drink is facing stiff competition from the espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes invading our shores.
Despite the dangers of wading into such a charged argument, BBC Future decided to weigh up the relative merits of each drink. There’s no accounting for taste, of course, but we have combed the scientific literature for their real, measurable effects on our body and mind.
The Wake up call
For many, the caffeine kick is the primary reason we choose either beverage; it’s the oil to our engines when we’re still feeling a bit creaky in the morning. Based purely on its composition, coffee should win hands down: a cup of tea has about half the dose (40 milligrams) of the stimulant caffeine that you would find in a standard cup of brewed filter coffee (80 to 115 milligrams). Yet this doesn’t necessarily reflect the jolt of the wake-up call.
Dosing subjects with either tea or coffee, one (admittedly small) study found that both beverages left subjects feeling similarly alert later in the morning. Although that study was based on self-reported feelings of alertness, clear differences have failed to emerge in more objective measures of concentration, either – such as reaction times. Indeed, when you dose up on tea made to the equivalent strength as coffee, it actually proves to be more effective at sharpening the mind.
4 Ways Your Workout Should Change After You Turn 40
Focus on training your functional strength daily
There’s no getting around biology: with the passage of time, we all become a little stiffer, squishier, wobblier. But that said, the 40-something you can be as strong as ever. This is the message behind Fitness After 40 ($19;amazon.com), a practical guide by orthopedic surgeon and mobility specialist Vonda Wright, MD. The trick, she says, is exercising smarter. Below we’ve pulled four tips from the pages of her book that every active woman should take to heart.
Be the change that you wish to see in the world
Work on your flexibility every day
As we age, our tendons and muscles tend to get tighter, and our risk of injury—tendinitis, in particular—goes up, says Dr. Wright, who directs the Performance and Research Initiative for Masters Athletes at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She compares stiff connective tissues to dried-out rubber bands. One hard tug and the brittle material tears apart. This is why you need to stretch daily, she says.
One of her favorite techniques: foam rolling. “Essentially the log of hard foam serves as a rolling pin to break up small adhesions and scar tissues, thereby increasing blood flow to problem areas,” she writes in her book. “Foam rolling first thing in the morning (after a hot shower) leaves you limber for the rest of the day.”