Green Tea Caffeine vs. Coffee: Which Is the Better Choice?

Jill Caren

Green tea naturally contains caffeine. But what is the difference between the caffeine in green tea and coffee? Let’s find out! Key Takeaways More than …

Categories Green Tea, Tea

Green tea naturally contains caffeine. But what is the difference between the caffeine in green tea and coffee? Let’s find out!

Key Takeaways

A cup of green tea contains between 20 and 50 mg of caffeine.
Coffee’s caffeine content is usually between 70 and 140 mg per cup.
Green tea is better for a subtler, longer-lasting energy boost, while coffee is better for a quick burst of energy.

More than 85 % of adults in the United States regularly consume caffeine, with an average daily intake of about 180 mg/day, roughly the amount of caffeine in up to two cups of coffee.

Natural sources of caffeine include coffee, tea, and chocolate.

Among teas, green tea is the most popular drink. Let’s compare the caffeine content in green tea vs. coffee and find out which is better and why.

Caffeine: what it is and how it affects the body

Caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical found in the leaves, beans, and fruits of over 60 plants, including tea plant leaves. It’s a central nervous system stimulant that is consumed all over the world to increase alertness and combat fatigue.

Benefits of caffeine

Caffeine is one of the most researched substances due to its beneficial health effects. These are some examples:

  1. increased energy levels, alertness, attention, and wakefulness
  2. reduced mental and physical exhaustion
  3. improved exercise performance
  4. enhances short-term memory
  5. can boost your metabolic rate by 3–11%

Downsides of too much caffeine

Caffeine in higher doses may cause side effects that interfere with daily life and may even cause serious health problems. Here are a few examples of caffeine’s side effects:

  • can keep you up at night
  • anxiety
  • digestive issues
  • frequent urination and urgency
  • fast heart rate
  • headache

How much caffeine is too much?

The amount of caffeine that does not generally cause side effects, according to the FDA, is around 400 mg per day – roughly the amount of caffeine in 4 cups of brewed coffee.

The amount of time required for a person to break down caffeine is affected by factors such as body weight, medications, individual caffeine tolerance, etc.

The key is moderation. Caffeine benefits can be obtained without the negative side effects if consumed in moderation.

Caffeine in green tea vs. coffee

How much caffeine is in green tea compared to coffee?

An 8 fl oz (240ml) cup of green tea contains between 20 and 50 mg of caffeine or 30 mg on average per cup. On the other hand, a cup of brewed black coffee contains between 70 and 140 mg of caffeine, or 95 mg on average.

Naturally, there will be variations in these figures due to the various factors that can influence the caffeine content of both coffee and tea.

Some coffees contain more caffeine than others, just as some teas contain more caffeine than others.

Factors Influencing Caffeine Levels in Green Tea

  1. Tea variety – The caffeine content of green tea varies depending on the type of green tea.
  2. Harvest time of leaves – Caffeine levels are higher in earlier harvests of the same plants.
  3. Tea grades – Broken leaves will add more caffeine to your brew quickly than whole leaves.
  4. Brewing time – Longer steeping/brewing will yield more caffeine.
  5. Temperature – Higher temperature, more caffeine extracted.
  6. Brewing method – Cold brewing extracts less caffeine from green tea than hot brewing.
  7. Powdered teas – Usually very high in caffeine (matcha green tea).

Factors Influencing Caffeine Levels in Coffee

  1. Coffee beans and grind sizeArabica has a lower caffeine content than Robusta. Finer grinds release more caffeine.
  2. Brewing method – Methods that totally immerse the coffee grinds provide coffee with a higher caffeine level than pour-over methods.
  3. Brewing time – Longer the brewing time, the more caffeine is extracted.
  4. Amount of coffee used – Caffeine content increases as more coffee is used in the brew.
  5. Temperature – Higher brewing temperature – more caffeine extracted.

Which is better for you: coffee or green tea?

Green tea and coffee are both safe beverages that provide the benefits of caffeine and antioxidants. Both are also linked to a lower risk of developing certain diseases.

Coffee’s caffeine content is ideal for times when you need a quick burst of energy and focus, such as before going to the gym or giving a big presentation at work.

Green tea is better for mellow relaxation and a subtler energy boost (it works wonders for the 3 p.m. slump).

Green tea contains a high concentration of L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes a state of calm alertness. While caffeine is a well-known stimulant, theanine has a relaxing effect. It may help you relax so well during the day that your sleep quality may actually improve.

When comparing caffeine in green tea vs. coffee, it is also worth noting that coffee’s higher caffeine content may lead to caffeine dependence more easily than that of green tea.

Which is better is ultimately determined by your particular needs.

Caffeine levels in popular Japanese Green Teas

Caffeine in different types of green tea
Green tea dried, matcha, and fresh tea leaf

Japanese green teas have a higher caffeine content than other green teas because of the gentle steaming process.

The caffeine content of each type of tea varies depending on how the tea leaves are processed after harvesting.

High-caffeine green tea

Caffeine levels in Gyokuro and Matcha green teas are higher than in other green teas.

Gyokuro green tea contains more caffeine because it is grown in the shade for the longest period of time; it is best enjoyed steeped in tempered warm water. Per 6-ounce cup, Gyokuro green tea contains approximately 35-92 mg of caffeine.

The best way to enjoy Matcha powdered green tea is whisked. Matcha has risen to prominence as one of the most popular green teas. It’s simple to incorporate into mixed drinks like matcha lattes and matcha cocktails.

The average caffeine amount is 64 mg for 1 tsp (teaspoon) of Matcha powder (2 grams). This is the usual amount to mix with 8 fl oz of water.

Medium caffeine green tea

Sencha green tea is the most popular type of green tea. This is a classic choice for a midday pick-me-up or after-meal tea. It provides a moderate caffeine boost, but much less than the caffeine from coffee.

Sencha Fukamushi – a popular variety of Sencha green tea with caffeine levels ranging from 27 to 41 mg per cup, depending on brewing time.

Low-caffeine green tea

Bancha green tea contains less caffeine than Sencha. This is due to the fact that Bancha green teas use older leaves than Sencha green tea.

Bancha contains approximately 10 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup.

Hojicha (roasted green tea) is another type of Japanese low-caffeine green tea with approximately 7.7 mg of caffeine per 8-oz cup.

Read More: Low-Caffeine Japanese Green Tea Types

Caffeine levels in popular coffee beverages

Roasted coffee caffeine content
Roasted coffee

Here are 4 types of popular coffee beverages, from highest caffeine content to lowest:

Espresso – To make espresso, pressure is used to force hot water or steam through finely-ground coffee.

According to the USDA, a single shot of espresso (1oz/29.6 ml) contains approximately 63 mg of caffeine, while a double shot (2 oz) contains 126 mg.

Lattes – Espresso is layered with steamed milk to make cappuccinos, americanos, and flat whites (or, in the case of the americano, hot water).

Because milk and water do not contain caffeine, the total caffeine content of the drink comes solely from the espresso. As a result, a single shot of espresso in a latte or other espresso-based drink has 63 mg of caffeine in it.

Drip Coffee (Filter Coffee) – This is possibly the most popular type of brewed coffee, at least in the United States. Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, McCafe, and countless other restaurants use this method.

The caffeine content in Drip or Filtered coffee ranges from 115-175 mg per 8 fl oz, with an average of 145 mg.

Instant coffee – Caffeine measurements in instant coffee are determined by the amount of instant coffee powder used to make the beverage. Caffeine levels in coffee vary greatly.

One rounded teaspoon of instant coffee (1.8 grams in weight) contains 57 mg of caffeine, according to the USDA. The amount of caffeine in coffee remains constant regardless of how much water, milk, or creamer you add to it.

Decaf green tea vs. Decaf coffee

Although most people are familiar with decaf coffee, decaf green tea is a little harder to find.

Decaffeinated green tea, like decaffeinated coffee, isn’t completely caffeine-free because there will always be at least 2-4 mg of caffeine per ounce.

The caffeine content of decaffeinated beverages is less than 2.5 percent of the caffeine content of their original caffeine levels.

Switching from coffee to green tea

You may experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms if you switch from coffee to green tea.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, going cold turkey can cause headaches, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and even flu-like nausea.

Withdrawal can last up to 9 days, and the more caffeine you’re used to consuming, the more severe the withdrawal.

You won’t be completely caffeine-free if you switch from coffee to green tea. Reduce your intake gradually over a few days until you no longer experience any symptoms.

Caffeine in green tea compared to other types of tea

Here’s a comparison of the caffeine content of green tea and other types of tea:

Tea Type Caffeine Content (mg)
Herbal Tea 0
Decaf Tea2-15
White Tea13-75
Oolong Tea16-55
Green Tea20-50
Black Tea40-80
Yerba Mate70-85
The caffeine content in different types of tea per 8oz

The final takeaway regarding caffeine content in green tea vs. coffee

Green tea may be a good option for people looking for a drink with a lower caffeine content per serving.

Green tea contains a third of the caffeine found in coffee (about 30 mg vs. 96 mg on average).

To reap the most health benefits, it appears that drinking 3-5 cups of green tea per day is ideal. Caffeine consumption should be limited to 400 mg per day, which is roughly equivalent to 8 cups of green tea.

Although this is the maximum amount, it is always preferable to stick to the recommended 3-5 cups of green tea per day.

It is entirely up to you to decide what you will consume more of. Both drinks are delicious and provide numerous health benefits due to their caffeine and antioxidant content.

Instead of seeing it as either/or, consider how to make both work during the day. Consider the caffeine content of coffee versus the L-theanine content of green tea to help you decide which is better for you.

More on this topic

  1. Matcha Caffeine: How Long Does It Last?
  2. Caffeine Content of Earl Grey Tea 
  3. Green vs. Black Tea Caffeine: Which is Stronger?