Study with tea instead of coffee

Drinking a mug of tea. By Graeme Weatherston,

San Jose area high school and university students are very familiar with all-night study sessions.  While most people think of coffee as the beverage to stay awake with, tea is actually a better choice if you want to study and concentrate while you stay awake.  Thankfully, tea is one of the more affordable luxuries, so even most high school and college students can afford really good-quality loose-leaf tea.  The best tea companies sell small samples of tea – enough for a pot or two, or 5 to 10 cups of tea – online for one or 2 dollars, and even the rarest high-end teas can be sampled for $5!

Pound for pound, tea leaves and coffee beans have the same amount of caffeine, on average, across the different types of teas and coffees.  However, a cup of coffee uses 2 to 3 times the amount of coffee grounds (1 tablespoon) that a cup of tea takes in tea leaves (1 teaspoon), so the resulting coffee is 2 to 3 times stronger in caffeine.  That’s why coffee is more often consumed for a sudden jolt of energy, but a cup of tea can provide a much more usable form of caffeine – when it comes to staying alert and focused while doing homework – because of the antioxidants and other things in tea that interact with the caffeine.

Tea contains enzymes that slow down the caffeine in your system, making it easier on your digestion, making the energy last longer, and counteracting the dehydrating nature of caffeine, as well.  You don’t get a hyperactive “caffeine high” or sudden “caffeine crash” with tea like you do with coffee; enjoying tea over an evening will gently raise your energy level and alertness, keeping you awake and actually making it easier to concentrate on your studies.  Depending on the tea that you drink, and how you brew it, you might get about 30 minutes of increased alertness for each cup or mug of tea that you drink.  Having toast with your tea will also give you some extra energy and nourishment (keep calories down by limiting the amount of butter, jam, Nutella or peanut butter on your toast), and a small cookie or piece of chocolate here and there is also nice.

While several cups of tea can get you 4 hours of alert study time, don’t forget to give back to your body the same amount of time for sleeping, if you’re staying up all night!  Tea is not a magic sleep-replacer; you can only skip a night or two of sleep before it starts to catch up with you, and no amount of tea or coffee will keep you awake!  However, if you have to finish that paper, or complete a reading assignment, tea is a great study companion.

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.

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For more information:
“Chocolate and tea: the perfect match?”
“Can you really de-caffeinate your tea in 30 seconds?”
“The top 10 tea myths: don’t be fooled by any of them!”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Tea can help you keep your New Year’s resolutions”
“Stay up late with tea on New Year’s Eve”
“5 ways to treat cold and flu symptoms with tea”
“San Jose students enjoy tea at grad parties”
“Perseids over San Jose: a great excuse to stay up late with tea and snacks”
“Going back to school in San Jose? Ease into it with a tea picnic on the beach”
“Caffeine content for tea, coffee, soda and more” from the Mayo Clinic
“Caffeine” from Wikipedia
“Effects of caffeine on alertness.” Zwyghuizen-Doorenbos A, Roehrs TA, Lipschutz L, Timms V, Roth T.
Source, Sleep Disorders and Research Center, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI 48202.
“The Claim: Caffeine Causes Dehydration” By Anahad O’Connor, from the New York Times
“Caffeine for the prevention of injuries and errors in shift workers” by Katharine Ker1 et al, Cochrane Injuries Group, May 2010.
“Caffeine in tea vs. steeping time”
“Adenosine and sleep-wake regulation.” Basheer R, Strecker RE, Thakkar MM, McCarley RW.  Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Boston VA Healthcare System, Brockton, MA 02301, USA.
“Caffeine and Tea: Myth and Reality” by Nigel Melican
“Theanine” from Wikipedia



Filed under Health, Tea, Tips

4 responses to “Study with tea instead of coffee

  1. Thank you for this insightful information

  2. bobbysue

    Tea has 2x more caffeine by weight than coffee. We typically use a teaspoon of tea or a teabag (2g) for a serving. However, for coffee we typically use two tablespoons (12g) for a serving. Tea is about 3% caffeine and coffee is about 1.5% caffeine. Half of the caffeine is extracted each time we brew tea or coffee. This means for the first brew of a serving of tea 30mg of caffeine is extracted and 90mg for coffee. Tea contains theanine, an amino acid involved in the production of the neurotransmitter gaba, giving tea a relaxing quality. Meanwhile, coffee has MAOI’s which prevent the breakdown of stimulatory monoamine neurotransmitters.

  3. Uhmmm… I’m not really sure if Black tea keeps you concetrated… I need answers from people who are experienced and know more about this please

    • Yes, most people have found that black tea does help them concentrate, although green tea is also useful for this purpose. According to legend, green tea became popular because it was widely-used by aristocrats, and also by monks, to assist with meditation and other mental and spiritual work. Since some people have a higher tolerance for caffeine, especially among people who are accustomed to drinking coffee for a quick “jolt” of energy, tea might not make a noticeable difference in concentration and mental energy for those people. Perhaps that is your situation. Thanks for the comment!

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