Tea vs. Coffee

I’ve recently switched from coffee to tea for dietary reasons. (I need to drastically cut down carbs.) Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a bit of a coffee addict — one of my favorite lines from a TV show was an exchange from Homicide: Life on the Streets, in which we discover the most intense character drinks “Two or three… pots” of coffee per day; that was me before I got obsessed with quality. Once you start caring about the quality of coffee, you either need to have a great local cafe, or you need to start making your coffee yourself. It’s a slippery slope — I grind my own coffee (and flirted with roasting, but I decided I’m not that dedicated) although for a while I did subscribe to coffee. Anyway, that reduced my consumption to 2-4 cups per day.

The problem is, I like milk in my coffee. I like lattés, although I can’t be bothered to make them at home very much. And I like to drink cold coffee (a double-shot in a cup of cold milk). And milk has carbs. (About 7% of my daily target in one cup.) I also drink espresso shots, but that’s not really a drink.

Now, before I got into really good coffee, I used to switch from mediocre coffee to tea for months at a time. I’m partial to Twinings, specifically English/Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey (which, I just discovered, recently had its very own New-Coke-style-debacle and aftermath), and Darjeeling. It’s hard to get good tea in the US (sure, it’s also tricky to get good coffee, if you’re a coffee snob, but it’s hard to get good tea if you’re only vaguely interested in tea — e.g. our local supermarkets have ample decent choices of whole bean coffee, but the only loose leaf tea is Liptons. That’s like only being able to buy Maxwell House coffee beans.

So, what are the advantages of tea over coffee (assuming you don’t drastically prefer coffee for its taste)?

  • Tea is cheaper than coffee.
  • It’s harder to screw up tea — e.g. by over-roasting or incompetent preparation.
  • You can make a lot of tea at a time and it will be Just Fine.
  • If a cup of tea gets cold, it’s still quite drinkable. A cold cup of coffee is a biohazard.
  • Tea has far less caffeine (or its equivalent) than coffee.
  • I find tea without milk (especially green or jasmine tea), or with only a little milk, much nicer than black coffee or “Americano” with milk.
  • Tea masks Splenda’s slightly unpleasant finish; coffee exacerbates it.

Obviously, if you simply prefer the taste of coffee, none of this matters. But for me, it gives me a harmless (possibly even beneficial) alternative to water (which is great too) I can have all day that won’t blow out my carbs, is easily made in quantity, and doesn’t become undrinkable when it gets cold.