Vines: Tea deserves your love over coffee

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Katy Vines, Columnist

What’s up with this coffee craze? More than half of Americans say they need coffee just to start their day. This obsession with coffee is no doubt due to the power that caffeine has to wake people up, but people overlook the negative effects of coffee, such as decreased oral health and high blood pressure. Although it is often not considered a valid choice of morning drink, tea is a great alternative to coffee. It can provide that early-morning boost while allowing one to avoid coffee’s side effects.

Coffee has always been my drink of choice, and Starbucks was once like heaven to me. Unfortunately, when I was a sophomore in high school, I was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, a condition that causes the heart to race. I was told that I had to avoid heavily caffeinated beverages. I went on the search for something new to replace my love of coffee, and that is when I discovered the wonders tea has to offer.

Although coffee is the substance that most Americans are drawn to in the morning to rouse them from their sleepy state, tea is an option that provides the ideal level of caffeine. The average cup of generic brewed coffee contains 95 to 200 milligrams of caffeine, an exorbitantly high amount when compared to the average cup of brewed black tea, which contains anywhere from 14 to 86 milligrams of caffeine. By choosing tea over coffee as a morning drink, people consume less caffeine, which can help them avoid getting the overly jittery feeling that coffee is known for causing but still enjoy enough caffeine to effectively wake them up.

In addition to the caffeine boost coffee can provide, it is frequently sought out as a source of antioxidants. However, tea has antioxidants without the side effects. The high levels of antioxidants in tea are thought to protect against a huge array of cancers, including stomach and colorectal cancer. Tea can also protect against heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, high cholesterol and stroke.

Of course, everyone knows drinking coffee is bad for one’s oral health, causing brittle and discolored teeth. On the other hand, tea has been shown to stave off cavities and is rich in polyphenols and fluoride that prevent the development of the bacteria responsible for causing bad breath. Tea is a better substance for people to put in their bodies because it provides a defense against these diseases and conditions, and unlike coffee, tea hydrates the body.

With obesity in America rising, people are constantly searching for a tool to help them lose weight. Once again, the powerful antioxidants in tea, especially green tea, are at work. This time they are helping to speed metabolisms and slim waists, because a faster metabolism can reduce appetite and stimulate the body to burn calories.

Along with the physical health benefits, there are numerous psychological advantages to choosing tea over coffee. Green tea in particular has been shown to have polyphenols that regulate learning and memory, and that can prevent and treat diseases like Alzheimer’s. These polyphenols can also stop neurotransmitters such as dopamine from degrading, which means tea acts as an antidepressant.

In the end, Americans want to look good and feel good. It is a relief to know that there is an alternate morning beverage that provides the same benefits that coffee does, but that does not cause the damage that coffee does. If 60 percent of Americans need a caffeinated drink to start their day, they should choose the beverage that protects and improve the body in ways that coffee cannot.

Katy Vines is a Weinberg freshman. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].