Most start their day with a hearty cup of coffee while some cannot do without their cup of tea. Coffee to most is like a drug that jolts them out if their sleep, drives away fatigue, and gives an energy boost. Coffee can cause a person to be addicted due to its high caffeine content, while tea can provide the needful caffeine fix without the jitters.
Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. It even tops beer in terms of popularity. Coffee too is hugely popular. Both drinks, however, have been around for a long time. Tea was discovered by the Emperor of China in 2737 BC. According to legend, the emperor was drinking a cup of boiling water when leaves from a nearby plant flew into the cup releasing a beautiful colour and aroma. Intrigued, the emperor took a sip and was pleasantly surprised by its flavour. Tea then became popular among scholars and priests in China and Japan, who drank tea to stay awake, study, and meditate. This is perhaps why the hot drink has always been associated with mindfulness, calm, spirituality, and solid health.
Coffee, however, did not appear until much later. It is generally believed to have been discovered by a goatherd Kaldi in the Ethiopian highlands. Kaldi noticed that his goats became hyperactive after eating berries from a certain tree. This was the coffee plant. Coffee then spread to monks at monasteries, where they drank the beverage to keep them alert while praying. From there, it began making its way across the Arabian Peninsula. Both coffee and tea remained Eastern beverages for a long time; coffee didn't even arrive in Europe until the 17th century.
A lot of research has been conducted on the benefits of both tea and coffee. Researchers have focused on specific potential benefits of coffee, with some studies finding that coffee might have the ability to reduce the incidence of dementia or Alzheimer's or even Type Two diabetes. Coffee has higher caffeine content than tea, meaning its levels of the stimulant might help people with asthma by relaxing the lung's airways. Caffeine also helps in constricting blood vessels in the brain and reducing migraines. A Harvard School of Public Health research suggested that while coffee does not harm the body in any way, it did not provide any long term health benefits either.
Tea, on the other hand, is filled with antioxidants and potential cancer-fighting properties. According to the National Cancer Institute at the NIH, tea contains polyphenol compounds, which are antioxidants that might aid in cancer prevention. Some studies, however, suggest otherwise. Hence, while concluding evidence is not present in this matter, tea is still considered to be a medicinal beverage with therapeutic properties. All types of tea are made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis, which wilt and oxidize after harvesting; oxidation results in the breaking down of chemicals. The amount of oxidation that occurs in the leaves is what defines different types of teas, from black tea to white tea, and of course green tea. Polyphenols in particular are a group of plant chemicals that are believed to be involved in health benefits — especially in green tea. Teas with the highest levels of polyphenols are usually brewed hot teas rather than cold (and sugary) bottled teas. Polyphenols in green tea, and theaflavins and thearubigins in black tea, contain free radicals that might protect cells from DNA damage.
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