Tea Versus Coffee Caffeine Levels: Where Does Tea Fit In?

Caffeine Levels of Tea and Coffee


Caffeine Levels of Tea and Coffee
Tea versus Coffee Caffeine Levels: How do Teas Stack Up?

True or False: Black tea has more caffeine than a green or white tea.  After all, black teas are the darkest, right?

This is one of those half-truths. All true teas (as opposed to tisanes or herbal blends) come from the same plant. The Camellia Sinensis produces black tea, green tea, white tea, yellow tea and dark teas. What distinguishes the different styles of tea is the processing of the raw tea leaves.

The caffeine level of teas can vary based upon everything from the climate, soil and location the tea is grown in to the processing style of the estate owner. In general, a black tea does have a higher level of caffeine that a green tea but some green teas may have a higher level than blacks. That’s part of the art and the beauty of tea; from one plant comes hundreds of different tastes.

The Honest Truth on Tea Versus Coffee Caffeine Levels

When you go further and consider the tea versus coffee caffeine levels or even the caffeine levels of common sodas, you’ll see that tea is pretty much always the clear winner. A black tea is usually going to have about 5.3 mL of caffeine per ounce while Caribou Coffee has 19.1. This is a huge difference; There’s almost 4 times as much caffeine in a cup of Caribou coffee versus black tea. On the lower end of the spectrum, McDonald’s Coffee is closer to a black tea with only 9.1 mL (and that doesn’t count any creamers or sugars that dilute the coffee.)

It’s safe to say that if you’re looking to reduce your caffeine but still need a little bit to get you through the day, reach for a cup of black tea. You can even try going down to a green tea for less caffeine. And just a note, beware of iced teas. Some commercial brands you’ll find in a grocery store have more caffeine than a fresh brewed tea or even sodas like Coca-Cola Classic.

For comparison, here is a listing of the caffeine levels in common drinks (all measured in milligrams per ounce):

Caribou Coffee                                19.1

Chick-Fil-A Brewed Coffee            13.6

Dunkin Donuts Brewed Coffee     15.0

Folgers Coffee                                 14.0

McDonald’s Coffee                         9.1

Panera Brewed Coffee                   11.8

Coca-Cola Classic                            2.8

Diet Coke                                          3.8

Mountain Dew                                 4.5

Pepsi Cola                                         3.2

Red Bull                                             9.5

Black Tea                                           5.2

Green Tea                                         3.1

White Tea                                         3.5

McDonald’s Sweet Tea                  3.1

Lipton Iced Tea                                2.4

Honest Tea                                       5.3

Pure Leaf                                           3.7

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