Living La Vida Mocha
There is a drug that is rampantly on the increase, showing no signs of slowing down and the funniest part is, it is a legally approved component available over the counter in any convenience store. While some use it to the extent of abusing it for its stimulating and invigorating effects, others swear by its restorative properties. Some like it hot, some like it cold. In the last year itself more than 150 million bags of this drug have been exported and consumed worldwide. Ladies and gentlemen those bags were coffee and the dug we are talking about is caffeine.
Caffeine has integrated itself so seamlessly in the human civilization as an intrinsic inherent that today it finds employment as one of the ingredients in almost all of our present day fast moving consumer goods, right from cold drinks like Coca Cola to chewing gums, sweets, condiments, chocolates and surprisingly even weight loss supplements. Another astonishing fact for you to know is that even tea contains caffeine. However while caffeine is an induced element in most other products mentioned above, in tea caffeine occurs naturally.
While black tea contains highest amount of caffeine amongst the various varieties of tea, blended flavored teas and herbal teas contain little to no caffeine at all. While some tenured tea savants will even go onto claim tea contains more caffeine than coffee but the former is not entirely true. Caffeine in tea is as active as a compound as it is in coffee in their naturally occurring state. It is true loose tea contains more caffeine per gram as compared to a gram of ground coffee, however tea has the presence of other compounds as well along with caffeine which go into making a cup of the brew. There are 20mg of caffeine in your average 100g of brewed tea compared to 40mg in the same amount of black filter coffee. So in summary two cups of tea on an average contain the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. But the type of tea, as well as the brewing time contributes to the amount of caffeine retained in the drink.
Caffeine in Tea vs Caffeine in Coffee
For generic black Assam tea, steeping times could vary from anything from 1 minute up to 5 minutes depending on the strength of the brew desired. While a cup of black tea that has been steeped for a minute contains about 19 mg of caffeine, a five minute steeped brew will have higher caffeine content up to 31 mg. Green tea exhibits a caffeine content ranging from 9 mg for a one minute steep up to 21 mg for a five minute steeped brew. However it is seldom that a green tea is steeped for as high as five minutes as it would have an adverse effect on the brew. Moreover green tea is never famous for its caffeine content as is black tea renowned for its strong bold flavour. Whereas generic Oolong tea displays a range of affinity for caffeine from 9mg to 27 mg when steeped from a minute to five minutes. Then again it is not a recommended practise to steep Oolong tea for more than 3 minutes at the very most. It can be easily contended that a single cup of tea has the same caffeine content as two cola based soft drinks. Find it surprising? 100g of your average cola contains just 8mg of caffeine, although it must be disclosed that in the reduced sugar varieties that number goes up to 15 mg. One of leaders in the energy drink segment, Red Bull has lesser caffeine content than a traditional cup of good old American coffee. However some of the other franchises in this segment have recorded induced caffeine content of upto 570 mg in 1oo grams of the product. That is a whopping amount of caffeine equivalent to 10 cups of American coffee. One of the latest trends in energy drinks are alcoholic beverages with caffeine which is what has been contributing to the large spurt in energy drink related deaths.
The Caffeine Collaterals – Need for Balanced Intake
Right from chocolates, to chewable to pharmaceutical drugs, everything contains caffeine today. Even aspirin contains caffeine. While it is still not alarming, unsupervised consumption in children or uncontrolled consumption in adults could lead to many health deteriorating problems. Caffeine has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system which causes an immediate burst of energy. When consumed in excess, caffeine can cause unpleasant side effects like anxiety, irritability, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping . This is one of the main reasons why it becomes important to keep a track of your caffeine intake and balance your caffeine consumption. However caffeine consumed from tea differs in the way it reacts with the body than when it is consumed from coffee. While caffeine in tea binds to tannin compounds, making it more difficult for the body to break down the caffeine, caffeine in coffee is present as a free compound and readily infuses into the system reacting on the central nervous system and inducing a bout of euphoria. While white tea has found to display a higher count of active free antioxidants, it is reputed for its anti-ageing properties and potential to fight against cancer, Green tea has thermogenic properties which promote steady fat oxidation despite its low caffeine content and hence is preferred by many over coffee in their battle against obesity. Drinking coffee over a long period of time is not recommended from a medical point of view as it has long term, damaging effects. Moreover its high caffeine content makes the average user susceptible to heart diseases. However this risk pertains to traditional black coffee consumed without any milk added to it. On the contrary adding milk in tea can inhibit the cancer fighting and healing properties of tea. Hence it again becomes very essential to reiterate the importance of a balanced intake of caffeine by keeping measure of your caffeine consumption. Awareness and concern are the stepping stones to beginning a responsible and healthy lifestyle. Remember nature and its products are mostly wonderful as long as you use them. There is a thin line dividing use from abuse. Abuse any of its products and it is bound to have harmful effects.
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