Green Coffee, Black Tea, Green Tea, and Matcha Tea: Which Caffeine Source Is Healthier?
Different caffeine sources- green coffee, black tea, green tea, or matcha tea- are preferred by many for diverse reasons, including taste, price, and most chiefly, the proposed health benefits.
Consequently, we would evaluate each caffeine source, exploring its ingredients, health benefits, potential drawbacks/cons. All of which, to arrive at a well-rounded conclusion on which caffeine source is most healthy, better put, which is most beneficial for you.
Does that sound like something you like to know?
Let’s explore already!
Green coffee is made from the same coffee beans that regular coffee, only that they aren’t roasted. As such, its preparation preserves valuable nutrients, anti-inflammatory properties, and antioxidants that may have been lost from roasting (1)
Although green coffee does not get as much recognition from fitness experts as other caffeine sources, they are a healthy source of over 800 bioactive plant compounds, including chlorogenic acid, polyphenols, and various antioxidants.
More and more research shows that these substances protect against diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Polyphenols are the active substances that counteract oxidation and fight cancer cells (2, 3)
The Ingredients in Green Coffee
- Phenolic Compounds: Green coffee beans are rich in esterified phenolic compounds, including flavonoids and tannins known for excellent anti-oxidation properties (4).
- Chlorogenic Acid: Green coffee contains healthy amounts of chlorogenic acids. This acid is the most active ingredient in green coffee alongside caffeine. Chlorogenic acids act as an antioxidant to suppress carcinogenesis (a process where normal cells transform into cancer cells). They also boost metabolism, reduce blood sugar concentration, insulin spikes, and other anti-inflammatory actions (5, 6).
- Carbohydrate: Carbohydrate makes about 50% dry mass of green coffee beans. Its dominant carbohydrate is sucrose, with 90mg/g in Arabica beans and 45mg/g in Robusta beans. Sucrose is hugely responsible for providing physical energy and mental alertness associated with green coffee intake.
- Amino Acids: Green coffee contains three groups of amino acids- Alanine (highest concentration), asparagine, and phenylalanine. All of which play significant roles in protein breakdown, providing energy to muscles and the nervous system and strengthening the immune system.
- Vitamins: Green coffee is also an excellent source of vitamins B3, B5, and B12. These essential vitamin plays roles in metabolism, improving cellular energy, cholesterol control, fostering brain functions, improving skin health (7, 8, 9).
- Chromium Picolinate: While green coffee does not naturally come with chromium picolinate, many green coffee companies add the compound. The combination (green coffee and chromium picolinate) offers numerous benefits. Some of them include reducing insulin resistance for patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), reduce hunger and cravings, and improve blood sugar (10, 11. 12).
- Green coffee contains small amounts of polysaccharides, proteins, melanoidin, and lipids.
Benefits of Green Coffee
Consuming green coffee in any form (as a beverage or supplement) links to many benefits. Interestingly, most of these benefits come from its two active ingredients- caffeine and chlorogenic acid (13). Below are some of the health benefits of green coffee.
The most popular benefit of green coffee is weight loss. This, of course, is not in line with the way the media and many green coffee brands suggest: The ability to lose weight with this standalone ‘magic’ coffee bean in a very ‘fast’ and very ‘safe’ way. Our article, the #1 reason your weight loss program fails, highlights how these claims are false.
Nevertheless, studies suggest that green coffee was significantly more effective in lowering body weight than placebo (14). It is possible because chlorogenic acids and caffeine present in green coffee boost fat metabolism, reduce insulin spikes (responsible for weight gain) and help lower blood sugar levels.
Still, as mentioned earlier, green coffee doesn’t work standalone nor like the hype around it. Some advertisements might say you could lose up to 8 kilos per week drinking green coffee, but that isn’t true.
Even so, it is recommendable to use the green coffee in moderation, or it will start to feel like a crash diet!
Antioxidants and Anti-inflammatory Properties
Studies indicate that green coffee possesses significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Precisely, green coffee has the highest level of antioxidants among all coffee types. Its more abundant chlorogenic acids offer more prevention of oxidative stress, anti-cancer, anti-obesity, and antidiabetic activities (15). They also protect against free radicals that can damage DNA and body tissues.
Caffeine and chlorogenic acids have natural anti-inflammatory abilities that could remedy inflammation; the reason we shared in our article- the truth about cholesterol- to be responsible for numerous heart-related problems.
Regeneration of Vitamin E
Green coffee beans can also regenerate vitamin E. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant with a significant inhibitory effect on developing unhealthy LDL-Cholesterol. Thus, improving heart health and blood vessels.
Good for skin and hair
Green coffee contains healthy amounts of fatty acids and esters, including linoleic and palmitic acids. These acids cannot be produced within the body but are ingested from foods and linked to improving the skin barrier and overall health.
Sadly, as safe and beneficial as green coffee seems, it is not without consequences. Below are some of the cons of consuming green coffee.
- Caffeine from green coffee increases the amount of calcium and magnesium leached in the urine. Thus, it has a significant tendency to weaken/thin bones.
- Like all caffeine sources, too much green coffee can cause insomnia, stomach aches, diarrhea, and dizziness.
- Our advice: drink plenty of water. It ensures that your fluid balance remains in balance.
- Much like roasted coffee, the green bean contains caffeine, a natural stimulant. Therefore, taking green coffee is not recommended for children, pregnant women, and anyone with heart problems. The best approach is always to consult your doctor before consuming using green coffee for any health benefit.
Summary: Overall, roasting coffee beans increases the amount of carcinogenic acid. As such, green coffee may contain more antioxidants and a higher amount of chlorogenic acid (compounds proven to suppress carcinogenesis) compared to other caffeine sources. Their main advantage is the surplus amounts of chlorogenic acids responsible for the numerous health benefits mentioned earlier. However, they leach more calcium and could cause thinning of bones.
Black tea comes from the older shoots and leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Though all teas are derived from this plant and its hybrids, the difference lies in the selection and processing.
Black tea processing involves harvesting and wilting for 12 to 20 hours. After that, it is rolled up by hand or through mechanical reels and oxidized (exposed to oxygen).
Oxidation produces two polyphenols in the resulting black tea: one to give colour and the other for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The Ingredients in Black Tea
- L-Theanine: Black tea leaves contain the most L-theanine than any other caffeine source. L-theanine is an amino acid associated with improved alpha activities in the brain that fosters alertness and focus. Though the body does not produce this compound or is essential for survival, studies show that it alters serotonin and dopamine. Thus, affecting sleep, cortisol secretion, mood, and emotion (16, 17).
- Polyphenols: Polyphenols composes 20 to 35% of the dry extract of black tea leaf and accounts for several antioxidant molecules, such as flavonoids, theaflavins catechins, and thearubigins (18)
- Caffeine: Black tea, like green coffee, contains approximately 20mg of caffeine per 100grams of serving size. Caffeine acts mainly on the central nervous and cardiovascular system as a stimulant.
- Potassium: Black tea provides a rich source of potassium. Precisely, 37mg per 100grams of serving size. This mineral provides several vital functions: acid-base balance, control of the level of fluids and pH in cells, participates in the transmission of nerve impulses, essential for muscle contraction, participates in the proper functioning of the kidneys.
- Magnesium: Black tea contains a reasonably small amount of magnesium (3mg) and magnesium oxalate. Magnesium contributes to nerve transmission and muscle relaxation after contraction. It is also essential for maintaining a regular heart rate, lipid metabolism, along with the regulation of blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
Benefits of Black Tea
It would be safe to expect a diversity of health benefits from a beverage with such a definitive nutrient list. Yet, most of the health benefits of black tea are associated with L-theanine, polyphenols, and caffeine (its main constituents).
Black tea has links with weight loss in a handful of ways. First, studies published in the European Journal of Nutrition indicate that black tea affects the gut microbiome by reducing gut bacteria associated with obesity and increasing those linked to lean body mass.
Also, its polyphenols, especially flavonoids, have been shown to lower visceral fats and triglyceride levels and inhibit inflammation-induced obesity (19).
Caffeine and catechins in black tea foster appetite suppression and fat metabolism by up to six percent. Finally, black tea has a decisive diuretic action that hinders fluid retention in the body.
Protects The Brain
Brain degeneration is a natural and evolutionary process caused by harmful free radicals and promoted by two factors- inflammation and the oxidation of brain cells.
Research indicates that the potent polyphenols present in black tea can help neutralize these free radicals, protect the brain and other organs exposed to degeneration, such as the skin.
Prevents Cardiovascular Disease
Studies show that regular tea consumption fosters heart health by inhibiting many risk factors for heart disease like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, the clumping of platelets in the blood (inflammation), and obesity. Flavonoids are responsible for this benefit. However, it does so, along with other antioxidants present in black tea, including caffeine.
A meta-analysis suggests that drinking three cups of black tea daily can reduce the risk of heart disease by 11 per cent.
Strengthens The Immune System
Black tea strengthens the immune system in so many ways.
First, it contains antioxidants that prevent the degeneration of cells responsible for more than 50 diseases.
The tannins present in black tea promote the health of the digestive system (essential for the immune system). They also have strong antibacterial and antiviral capacities to fight viruses that cause diseases such as influenza, dysentery, and hepatitis, among many others.
- As with all tea types, black tea contains caffeine, and excessive consumption might lead to anxiety, nausea, nervousness, increased urination, and other typical symptoms.
- Black tea is rich in magnesium oxalate, which could cause kidney stones if excessively consumed.
- The tannins in black tea have excellent antioxidant properties but can reduce the body’s absorption of iron; thus, anemia or other risk associated with iron deficiency (17).
Summary: Black tea stands out for its excellent source of ammonia acids, antioxidants, and polyphenols. They contain one of the least amounts of calories if consumed plain and offer a wide range of health benefits. Sadly, drinking black tea isn’t a long-term approach for weight loss or a secure method to sustain energy.
Green tea, from the Camellia sinensis (L.) plant, is one of the oldest, most popular, and consumed forms of tea. Along with black tea, green tea is made from the same plant but is processed in different ways, especially the degree of fermentation. Precisely, green tea is not fermented but allowed to oxidize by withering naturally.
There are various types of green tea, and these are classified mainly by their leaf processing, place of origin, and the kind of soil on which the shrubs grow.
The Ingredients in Green Tea
- Polyphenols: Green tea is rich in polyphenols, natural compounds that bring health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer. The main ones are:
Catechins: Catechins are the primary polyphenol in green tea. Although there are four forms of catechins in green tea, the most active form is Epigallocatechins-3-gallate. Catechins derived from tea have excellent antioxidant activity, neutralizing potent free radicals, like glutathione peroxidase, catalase, and glutathione reductase. They are also helpful in increasing enzyme detoxification activity.
L-Theanine: Theanine is found in the root of tea bushes and migrates to the leaves. When exposed to light, Theanine breaks down into catechins, offering antioxidant abilities. Still, in its simplest form, Theanine relieves stress, boosts mood, and fosters brain activities, including alertness and sleep.
- Caffeine: The caffeine in green tea isn’t as much as that in coffee. Yet, it is enough to mimic a similar response without causing the extreme nervous effects of excess caffeine dosage.
- Vitamins and Minerals: Green tea contains a healthy amount of vitamins, including Vitamin C, B2, Folic acid, B-carotene, and vitamin E. It contains vitamins in higher concentrations than all tea types because of its little to no oxidation and other low processing. Minerals make 5-7% of green tea. Its main compounds are calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Albeit, there are little amounts of copper, zinc, and manganese.
Benefits of Green Tea
Rich Source of Healthy Bioactive Compounds
Because the processing is minimal, green tea contains a wide range of healthy compounds, including polyphenols, catechins, L-Theanine, and other healthy minerals.
The most active catechin is the epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a natural antioxidant that prevents cell damage and other benefits by reducing the formation of free radicals in the body responsible for aging, diseases, and cell damage. EGCG is one of the most potent compounds in green tea and the primary component responsible for many green tea’s medicinal properties.
These bioactive compounds and powerful antioxidants lower cancer risk, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer (20, 21 22). However, it is recommendable to take green tea plain; without milk to retain its antioxidant value.
Fosters Weight Loss
Green tea is a fat-burning fostering compound and makes a significant percentage of many weight loss supplements available today.
Studies suggest that caffeine and catechins present in green tea are the primary agents behind its weight loss properties. The link lies in their ability to improve metabolic rate, mental and physical performance (by burning fatty acids from fat tissues as energy).
Improved Physical Performance and Post-exercise Recovery
Green tea extract appears to be helpful in exercise, either improving physical performance or post-exercise recovery. However, although exercise has many health benefits, it produces oxidative stress and damages the body’s cells.
Fortunately, antioxidants such as catechins in green tea can reduce cell damage and slow muscle fatigue. Meaning, it increases antioxidant protection against oxidative damage caused by exercise, promoting better performance and even improved recovery from muscle strains.
Improves Brain Function
Catechins, Theanine, and caffeine are some of the compounds in green tea which can have significant neuroprotective effects, though caffeine is the central stimulant.
While green tea does not contain as much caffeine as coffee; thus, milder buzz than coffee, it can produce a similar cognitive response without the jittering associated with excessive caffeine intake.
Nevertheless, caffeine, catechins, and Theanine contribute to blocking adenosine (an inhibitory neurotransmitter), causing more number and concentration of neurons in the brain; hence, better cognitive performance.
Green tea also has links with improved physical performance. Howbeit, reports indicate that it offers more stable energy than the rapid rise and crash of energy levels with coffee.
Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
Lower risk of cardiovascular diseases
While green tea offers a wide range of health benefits, it poses some level of threat when consumed by certain groups of people or inappropriately.
- Green tea is unsafe for persons with thyroid problems, kidney problems, anemia, gastric disorders, gastritis, insomnia, sleep disorders, and those who use anticoagulants.
- Like other caffeine sources, green tea can cause insomnia, irritability, nausea, acidity, vomiting, tachycardia, and increased heart rate if consumed in high doses (more than eight cups per day).
- In some cases, green tea can cause stomach upset and constipation. In rare cases, liver and kidney problems.
- Excessive, prolonged intake of green tea increases the risk of bone disease in sensitive individuals because it prevents absorption of calcium/iron and can deteriorate bone health (21).
Matcha tea is essentially green tea but of different cultivation and processing. Recall that all forms of tea come from the same plant, and the processing determines its mineral composition alongside the health benefits.
So, how does matcha differ from green tea?
Firstly, unlike the regular green tea grown under the sun, matcha is grown under shade until weeks before harvest. This form of cultivation allows for increased chlorophyll levels, leaving a dark shade of green and fostering amino acid production.
More so, disparate from the traditional forms of tea, matcha preparation does not require steeping in water. Instead, the brew involves the entire grounded green tea leaves, offering a higher concentration of the leaves’ nutrients, including its antioxidants and minerals.
The Ingredients in Matcha Tea
- Vitamins and Minerals: Matcha tea contains the most vitamins and minerals compared to caffeine sources in this article. Its unique blend and assortments of vitamins/minerals are among the reasons wellness enthusiasts tag matcha as “the healthiest tea in the world.”
- Some of these vitamins include Vitamin A (carotene), B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), C, F (Fluorine), Manganese, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Calcium, Copper, Chromium, and Sodium.
- L-Theanine: L-Theanine, the amino acid found in the tea plant and all forms of tea, is responsible for the slightly sweet note in green tea, although it mainly functions as an antioxidant. Black tea has the highest amount of L-Theanine of all tea types. However, Matcha tea contains the highest concentration of this antioxidant and up to five times the amount in regular tea.
- Catechins: Like regular green tea, matcha contains a rich, healthy dose of catechins, and EGCG is said to have the highest percentage. And as you would guess, matcha has more catechins concentration than regular green tea and other caffeine sources on this article; approximately more than one-third of matcha tea is EGCG.
- Caffeine: Matcha also has a fairly high caffeine content (70 mg) instead of the 30 – 50 mg available in a cup (eight ounces) of green tea. In fact, only regular coffee has more caffeine content than matcha.
Benefits of Matcha Tea
Healthy Sustained Boost
Like all caffeine sources, drinking matcha tea improves metabolism and brain function, thus offering an energy boost. With up to 70mg of caffeine available in matcha, you can be sure of more energy boost in a short time than with others forms of tea.
Energy boost with caffeine sources has one major drawback- the sudden crash of energy levels after the effects are over, along with the jittering in between. Albeit, thanks to its high concentrations of L-Theanine, the caffeine from matcha tea absorbs slowly than the norm, resulting in a more sustained energy boost for six to eight hours without jittering or sudden crash.
Matcha offers similar weight loss benefits to green tea. Unfortunately, there aren’t any statistics that compare the performance of green tea and matcha in regards to the fat metabolism or weight loss. However, both stem from the same plant with similar processing and should mimic similar effects.
Yet, most saliently, matcha tea contains more concentration of the compounds responsible for weight loss in green tea- caffeine and catechins. Thus, the link between the beverage and its reputation for bodyweight reduction.
Because of its processing, precisely, shade-cultivation to increase chlorophyll, matcha works as a natural detox that helps the body remove heavy metals and harmful toxins. This action adds to matcha’s potent antioxidant properties to prevent damage to the liver and kidney (detox organs) alongside lowering the risk of liver disease (23, 24).
Concentration and calm
The history of its effects comes from the meditations practiced by Japanese monks. During long hours of sitting, they drank matcha to stay focused and calm. Modern science has recently confirmed the lessons of tradition.
Better Cognitive performance
L-theanine helps to maintain the state of relaxation and well-being because it affects the functioning of the brain. The high concentration of l-Theanine in matcha produces alpha waves and contains up to five times more amino acids than other green and black teas.
Strengthens the immune system
One cup of matcha green tea contains a lot of calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, iron, and proteins that strengthen your immune system.
Improves Skin Health
Matcha protects against UV damage and improves skin elasticity. It even stimulates elastin production to give volume to your skin and protects it against free radicals that cause age spots, dry skin, and wrinkles.
You can ideally make a matcha mask and use it as a facial treatment. The catechins in green tea work to scavenge and neutralize free radicals found in skin cells; thus, slowing down aging.
Applying matcha green tea directly to the skin as a mask is an excellent way to fight acne and rosacea symptoms. In addition, matcha powder offers anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to EGCG, which reduces redness associated with chronic skin conditions such as rosacea and acne.
Matcha is gentle enough to be applied to all skin types, and it provides immediate relief from skin discomfort. As a bonus, if you have oily or combination skin, the tannins in matcha shrink pores and decrease sebum production!
And from a purely aesthetic standpoint, matcha powder works wonders in keeping your complexion fresh and glowing. Not only does it reduce inflammation, but it rejuvenates the skin, exfoliating it and removing dead cells.
Excellent source of bioactive compounds
- The price for matcha varies by quality, but generally, matcha is more expensive than all caffeine sources on our list.
- Matcha can absorb heavy metals like lead and arsenic from the soil. So, organic matcha may contain some amount of lead and should not be taken in excess.
- Matcha has more caffeine than green tea, black tea, and green coffee. Hence, it may trigger reactions such as diarrhea, stomach ache, headaches, and other caffeine-related effects.
Summary: Matcha superciliously takes a top spot as one of the healthiest caffeine sources for health benefits and medicinal purposes. In fact, in addition to all the benefits from green tea, black tea, and green coffee, matcha supports bone health and fosters detox- a section where other caffeine sources fail woefully. Sadly, it is pricey, contains a high amount of caffeine, and could be contaminated easily.
After an extensive analysis of each caffeine source, we could easily place matcha tea in our top spot for its sustained energy boost and numerous health benefits. Albeit, our victor doesn’t go home without scars- meaning, as much as matcha serves a wide range of health, wellness, and fitness purposes, it possesses a bit of downside with high caffeine, possible contamination, and price.
Imperatively, if you’re looking for effective ways to boost energy, drinking matcha is an excellent approach. But if you want to get that boost without caffeine, moringa would be a perfect choice. You can read up our article on how moringa can be an effective caffeine-free energy-boosting drink by clicking here.
You can also download my full free guide on how to boost your energy naturally here for more hidden gems,