Which Has More Caffeine: Coffee, Green Tea, or Black Tea?

Generally speaking, coffee contains more caffeine — but this depends on the type of coffee, preparation, and quantity.

May 31, 2024
Two cups with different beverage; coffee and tea.

A shot of espresso typically contains 75 mg of caffeine, an 8-ounce cup of black brewed coffee contains around 100 mg, and a 4-ounce cup of Vietnamese coffee contains up to 130 mg

Comparatively, a standard 240 mL cup of various teas like black, English breakfast, and green rarely exceed 60 mg. Matcha, on the other hand, delivers approximately 100 mg of caffeine per cup.

Before being brewed, tea leaves have more caffeine than coffee beans. This isn’t the case after each beverage is made, however, as the hotter water used during the coffee brewing process leads to more caffeine being extracted. 

Once they’re brewed, tea’s caffeine levels are considerably lower than coffee’s (with the exception of matcha).

Caffeine in Coffee vs Green Tea vs Black Tea

The chart below shows the average amounts of caffeine in different coffee and tea drinks; this can help you stay under the FDA’s recommended daily limit of 400 mg.

Remember that the following amounts are just averages, and the caffeine total can vary quite a bit.

Type of Tea/Coffee (8 oz/240 mL unless stated)

Caffeine (mg)

Espresso (1 oz)

75

Latte (2 shots espresso)

140

Vietnamese Coffee (4 oz)

80-130

Decaf Coffee

2

Regular Drip Coffee 

80-110

French Press Coffee

95

Pour Over Coffee

175

Cold Brew Coffee

100-200

Instant Coffee

3-110

Black Tea

50

English Breakfast Tea

42

Green Tea

35

White Tea

30

Matcha (2 grams)

100

Herbal Tea

0

How Much Caffeine is in Different Teas?

The flavor and caffeine content of tea can vary depending on the length of time it is brewed. Leaving tea to steep for several minutes leads to a more intense flavor and also increases the overall caffeine content. 

Herbal tea doesn’t contain any caffeine. Flavors like peppermint, lemon and ginger, and camomile are delicious tea options. If tea isn’t your thing, a mugful of matcha is a flavorful alternative. 

Matcha contains caffeine but in a smaller amount compared to standard coffee. Matcha only has 100 mg per teaspoon, but be mindful of this when making your brew as using more matcha will result in higher caffeine levels. A typical serving uses about 1 teaspoon of matcha powder.

It’s surprising how much caffeine is in drinks like black tea, English breakfast, and green tea, with these popular options containing around 35-50 mg of caffeine per 8 oz (240 mL). 

Tea, including green tea, is made from the Camellia sinensis plant, which contains naturally occurring caffeine. Compared to an 8 oz latte containing 140 mg of caffeine (2 shots), the same amount of green tea only has 35 mg. Green tea might not pack the same rich, dark punch as Cafely’s SaiGon OG coffee blend, but it does provide a refreshing lower caffeine alternative. 

Related: How Long Does Caffeine Last? (Duration of Effects)

What Variables Affect Caffeine Content of Coffee & Tea?

Several factors affect the caffeine content in coffee and tea, including:

  • Type of tea or coffee used
  • Amount of tea or coffee used (serving size)
  • Brewing time
  • Water temperature 
  • Grind size (for coffee)

Robusta beans, like our HaNoi coffee, have a higher caffeine content than arabica beans, such as our DaLat, or a blend like the DaNang [3]. The amount of grounds or tea you use, along with the time you brew your coffee or tea, will also affect caffeine levels

Hot water allows for greater caffeine extraction, so water temperature also comes into play. Higher water temperature and a long brewing time will lead to a stronger coffee or tea with more caffeine. Be careful not to brew your coffee or tea for too long, or you'll end up with an unpleasant bitter flavor [4]. 

Related: Robusta vs. Arabica Coffee: Main Differences Explained

What are the Risks & Benefits of Caffeine? 

Caffeine has been shown to produce potential benefits against some diseases due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant content [5], but there are risks involved with caffeine consumption

Additional benefits include increased alertness and awareness, giving us an often-needed boost first thing in the morning. These benefits are based on a low consumption of 50-300 mg of caffeine, but consuming more than this can be associated with risks.

Negative symptoms of caffeine consumption include jitteriness, anxiety, and insomnia, among others [6], which is why it’s beneficial to be aware of how much caffeine you’re ingesting

Experiencing these issues doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wipe out coffee from your routine. But it may be worth swapping your regular strong brew for decaf or low-caffeine tea to reduce your caffeine intake.

Related: Best Time to Drink Coffee

FAQs: Coffee, Tea, & Caffeine

Here are answers to some often-asked questions regarding caffeine.

1. Which tea has the highest caffeine?

Black tea contains the highest amount of caffeine per cup, with a 240 mL serving boasting 50 mg. Higher levels of caffeine can be found in black tea when compared to other tea variations as the leaves are oxidized, releasing more caffeine as the tea is brewed. 

2. Which tea has the lowest caffeine?

Herbal tea is caffeine-free, making it the perfect option for an afternoon brew. Camomile, peppermint, and ginger tea are all popular options offering a flavorsome, caffeine-free alternative to coffee.

3. Does steeping tea longer increase caffeine?

Tea steeped for a longer time increases the strength of flavor along with the caffeine content. More caffeine makes its way into the hot water in your cup the longer you leave your tea bag in, although too long will make the drink bitter and strong. If you prefer a weaker brew with less caffeine, remove the bag after a few minutes.

4. Is it healthier to drink tea or coffee?

Tea generally contains less caffeine than coffee, but this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthier. Tea is often served with sugar and milk which can raise the calories per cup of tea compared to a cup of black coffee, prepared without any additional ingredients. If you’re negatively affected by caffeine, it may be worth introducing lower caffeine or caffeine-free options into your day such as herbal tea. 

5. Is caffeine natural?

Caffeine naturally occurs in coffee beans, tea, cocoa, and guarana. It can also be found in items such as soda, candy, and energy drinks, but this caffeine is synthetic, and produced in a lab.

Related: What is Caffeine Withdrawal?

References

  1. Cappelletti, S., Daria, P., Sani, G., & Aromatario, M. (2015). Caffeine: Cognitive and Physical Performance Enhancer or Psychoactive Drug? Current Neuropharmacology, 13(1), 71-88. Retrieved on April 25, 2024 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4462044/#R113
  2. Smith, A. (2002). Effects of caffeine on human behavior. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 40(9), 1243-1255. Retrieved on April 25, 2024, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0278691502000960
  3. Luiza-Mădălina CARACOSTEA, Rodica, SÎRBUFlorica BUŞURICU. (2021). Determination of Caffeine Content in Arabica and Robusta Green Coffee of Indian Origin. European Journal of Natural Sciences and Medicine, Vol 4, Issue 1. Retrieved on May 3, 2024, from https://revistia.org/files/articles/ejnm_v4_i1_21/Caracostea.pdf
  4. Kamran, S. (2017) Effects of brewing temperature on the release of caffeine and antioxidants in black tea and short-term effectiveness of black tea in improving cognition, mood, and alertness, no. 68. Retrieved on May 3, 2024 from https://eresearch.qmu.ac.uk/handle/20.500.12289/7645
  5. Saimaiti, A., Zhou, D. D., Li, J., Xiong, R. G., Gan, R. Y., Huang, S. Y., Shang, A., Zhao, C. N., Li, H. Y., & Li, H. B. (2023). Dietary sources, health benefits, and risks of caffeine. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 63(29), 9648–9666. Retrieved on May 3 2024, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35574653/
  6. Harvard School of Public Health. (2020). The Nutrition Source. Coffee. Retrieved on May 3, 2024 from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/coffee/