Growing up in India, my first taste of caffeine came via a cup of steaming tea – sweet, milky and well tasting like tea. This was not the sophisticated Darjeeling or Earl Gray, but more like tea for the masses. After immigrating to the US, I discovered coffee and joys that go with it. The Starbucks became a habit, and then an addiction.
On my recent trip to India, I was reminded of the joys of tea, especially when sprinkled with a little love from mom. Upon my return, I have been running a little experiment – I start the day with a cup of tea one day, and a freshly pressed coffee the next. (Comparison of the two beverages is here.)
Given the variance in their caffeine content, the start is different on the alternating days, and productivity is different as well. With tea, I find the day starts gradually picks up pace and then you smoothly glide through it, though it does require more frequent trips to the kitchen or the cashier’s counter.
Coffee, on the other hand takes effect right from the first sip, and as long as you have two or three more “Tall” cups, you can go through the day supercharged, working at a furious pace. But then comes the inevitable crash and there goes the productivity.
This has me wondering… what is a better drink for web workers? Tea or coffee? What do you drink and why? Does one work better than the others? I would love to hear your feedback.
47 thoughts on “Open Thread: The First Cup – Tea or Coffee?”
I am sitting with my fourth cup of coffee of the day–so I come down on the side of coffee. However, last year I cut down on my caffeine for a while and used tea as a tool for doing so since it has less caffeine. When I had tea, I would drink Irish Breakfast Tea for my first cup, Twinings Lady Grey mid-morning, and then switch to green tea for the rest of the day.
The worst thing for me about coffee is that if I go past four cups a day, I can’t sleep at night–no matter when I had that last cup. So I try to keep it at four cups a day but some days I’m dragging so that I just have to have more.
I agree with you on that – the coffee high stays with you all day and then late into the night, which is fine for me because I do need to have a long day. However, it is the lack of deep sleep is what slows me down the next day and gets me into this whole cycle of up and down. Anyway lets see if this tea-followed-by-coffee experiment really pans out.
My favorite tea is the one i grew up drinking: Lipton Red Label.
I like tea. Though for creative working I sometimes like something with a higher sugar content mixed with some of those lovely chemical ingredients I can’t pronounce.
While I am drinking coffee today, I usually drink green tea. I find that coffee is a bit too much and sometimes actually breaks my concentration, (I also get really hungry when drinking it).
I just bought, though, a container of white tea that I am going to try for a while, (anti-oxidants here I come).
While I don’t stick to any clear regimen, I often start with coffee – fresh roasted at home from green beans – and then segue to a green Earl Grey that we bought loose, in bulk. (Something like three pounds for $30; probably more than we should have gotten, frankly.)
I get that first spike from the coffee, then right as I’m starting to crash, the slightly different buzz from the tea comes in to harmonize.
Now that is a great idea – get an initial rush and then go slowly coasting along – nice idea. Glider instead of an airplane concept. I must try!
The comparison of tea versus coffee omits one significant difference – tannins.
I love a tall glass of iced tea, especially Red Rose, but it doesn’t like me. My mouth starts to pucker, and then my gut starts to cramp. Leather makes a nice belt; it doesn’t make for a good gastro-intestinal tract.
Tea also seems to be less stimulating in a peristalsic way…. I interpret that as a vote in favor of coffee, although not all would agree….
My urologist, however, encourages me to drink all the iced tea I can get. I have good insurance, he says, and he can use the money he gets for performing extra-corporeal shock wave lithotripsy on me.
So it’s coffee for me. Hot, first thing in the morning, and then iced coffee with real cream the rest of the day.
If forced to choose between coffee and tea, put me down for tea.
Usually, though, I opt for Door #3: Caffeinated diet soda.
There’s something about that cold burst of carbonation that helps perk me up. My current favorites are Diet Pepsi Lime and Dr. Pepper Cherry Vanilla, but that varies quite a bit month to month.
I am in a similar transition state like you. Having lived in India and habituated with the “masala tea” (spicy with Ginger/cardamoms) to keep me refreshed, these days in UK, the tea is not stimulating my freshness. So I have transitioned to Starbucks coffee a day and keeping me active with tea in between.
But I switch to “masala tea” in home during the weekend. Anybody need a tip on how to prepare “masla tea”, give me a shout for the recipe. 🙂
I find this discussion more than a little bit absurd. What’s next, a debate on the relative merits of Dijon vs regular mustard? People’s preference for dogs vs cats? Red vs Blue?
This kind of pointless/circular discussion around infinitely re-hashed topics hurts the blogosphere and detracts from the legitimacy of this blog as a thoughtful platform for web worker-related topics. While WWs certainly ingest caffeine, we also eat, sleep and breathe. Can we soon expect a post about your take on the optimal humidity of the air for web work bliss? Or maybe the best time to lay our head down? Or maybe where to find the greasiest hamburger in San Francisco? Is this even about working on the web anymore?
Please avoid posting for posting’s sake, and this blog will be richer for it.
Steady on MATBALEZ….. coffee talk is very important!!
I gave up coffee for 5 months and have just had my first cup this week – mmmm…. but man, I felt jazzed!
I’ve never been much of a coffee fan.. can’t take the acidity. I do like a nice variety of white teas… Teavana has all kinds of great teas, Im a big fan of all the whites, jasmine pearl, and peach roibos. ( I find a combination of the 3 to be quite theraputic) While tea doesn’t get me pumped and jumpin, it does help keep me focused, which at times can be much more important.
Re: “what is a better drink for web workers? Tea or coffee?”
a) since when has any beverage been a better worse drink for any given race, class, industry, profession, or other common interest group?
b) how does my choice of beverage have any relevancy to the person over in the next cubicle?
What next? What’s a better anti-histamine for web workers? A better deodorant?
I’m an avid tea drinker. Specifically green tea with no milk and just a pinch of sugar. That’s much more healthier than coffee anyday.
Post lunch, I start feeling drowsy around 3pm and usually take a power nap of 40mins. After that I’m back to work FRESHHHH. no need for caffeine ever.
Definitely tea for me, although i crave the occational coffee once in awhile.
In an attempt to be mindful, I have made a choice to eliminate caffeine from my diet. I’ve completely dropped coffee. Tea should go the same way, but I have to admit that I am still drinking a cup of tea with a dollop of milk, no sugar, to start the day.
Coffee before lunch. Tea after lunch. Wine after dinner.
I’d say, coffee.
Having been drinking coffee daily for years now, I cannot do a day without a cup of coffee in the morning. Be warned though, caffeine addiction is no joke. Recently, I had a bout of gastritis whereby I was so sick, I couldn’t drink anything but plain water and porridge.
Now, I’ve went through 10 days without coffee during that, and all I got out of it, is a massive headache that I thought was a serious indication that there’s something wrong with my brain.
It never occured to me that it could be the withdrawal symptoms. I kept assuming it was because I was sick.
Turns out, I was fine the next day after drinking a nice cup of coffee (although my stomach is still angry with me for that).
Caffeine withdrawal is no joke. I’m trying to switch to tea right now so that I can take care of my stomach and still take care of my addiction.
Coffee by day, wine and spirits by night: My idea of balance.
Also like Chinese tea, feels like it’s doing me a good old detoxify.
By the way Swag don’t take it too seriously, have a cup of chaay.
This post might appear small talk but in the end we all use stimulants of one kind or another and I would hazard a guess that our pleasure sensation or feelings of relaxation are all related to the endorphins that are linked to the first time we experienced that high and from that point onwards we try to recreate that same experience. A bit like Santosh and his Masala Tea.
Honestly, I think I’m most productive when I start my days caffeine free. I get up at the same time every day, and go to bed when I’m tired, and I tend to have plenty of energy throughout the work day.
Of course, this only works when it’s fully out of my system, which takes a couple of weeks. Then for a few weeks/months at a time I live a caffeine-free existence, proclaim to my friends how great it is not to feel like a slave to the morning cup, and then fall back into my old habits.
One day, I’ll feel like I didn’t get enough sleep, but I’ve got a lot of work to do. Instead of whipping up some herbal tea first thing in the morning, I’ll make a cup of English Breakfast. Sure, I’ll try to reduce the caffeine level by brewing it for a few seconds, throwing out the water, and then brewing it again. But I know it’s there.
The next day, I’ll wake up tired again, and brew a full cup of tea, and before you know it the tea has no effect so I’m drinking two cups of coffee a day. This might not sound like a lot, but as much as I love the aroma/taste of a good cup of coffee, two cups is enough to wreak havoc on my stomach and give me eye twitches.
So I go cold turkey and start all over again in a few months.
My name is Brad, and I have a problem.
I start my day with a cup of Tim Hortons coffee (a big deal in Canada 🙂 ), then it’s tea all day (4-6 cups).
The comparison of tea and coffee linked in the post is dated (in saying that coffee has no significant health benefits):
“Coffee has been a medical whipping boy for so long that it may come as a surprise that recent research suggests that drinking moderate amounts of coffee (two to four cups per day) provides a wide range of health benefits.” (http://www.coffeereview.com/reference.cfm?ID=122)
Why does one have to choose between them? Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon, as Sherrilynne says above.
I can appreciate a good tea, but rarely drink it, and I’ve never really gotten into coffee. So after a robust breakfast accompanied by a large glass of orange juice, I start my beverage day with a can of Diet Coke, and follow it throughout the day with a couple more. Not being a cofee drinker, Starbucks doesn’t usually have much to offer me, but I did stop in occasionally while they were still selling Chantico (steamed with cocoa butter and whole milk; a 6-ounce cup has 390 calories, 21 grams of fat and 51 carbs).
A recent study argued that you derive no boost from a regular cup o’ caffeine. You’re just fending off the withdrawal symptoms. And that’s all my daily morning single cup of home-brewed Starbucks coffee is doing for me.
I cant start my day without large cup of strong coffee. Which is repeated one more time after lunch break 🙂 And before the end of my official working time I take another one, which keeps me runing whole evening!
The problem is that I get too addicted and cant stop myself!
Since I enjoy both brews, it’s coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon. But nothing after 4 PM or else my restless leg syndrome will kick in (no pun intended).
Tea. High quality, fragrant tea. No milk, no sugar. The vessel must be glass so you can see and appreciate the color.
A double shot of cappuccino around noon works great. But starting the day with coffee is just a bit … barbaric.
I generally prefer Hot Lime Tea [also called Shavarma, no milk in it, in India – originated from gulf, I believe]. I would prefer coffee only if it is really well made. It requires a right mix of coffee powder and what is known as chicory. very few hotels/coffee shops offer good coffee though.
How about writing more experiences?
Being a true Brit, I drink tea all day long. Just taking the time to make a good cuppa seems to increase productivity afterwards.
A quad shot Latte, with a shot of peppermint first thing in the morning (5am for me); then I move to Mighty Leaf tropical Green Tea the rest of the day, with a glass of water thrown in here and there for good measure.
Coffee starts off my day. A few fresh roasted breakfast blends from Starbucks gets me through to lunch hour. (Professionally brewed by me. I am professional aren’t I? I do it everyday!)
Tea time is after 2oclock and I preferably go for Twinings Green Tea. Then for late night relaxing, and working, I break out the Yogi Tea. Green Tea Panax Ginseng and Kombucha. Its nice and relaxing and the taste is to die for. Plus it has Yoga moves on every box, so if i need some stretching, i break out the tea box for a lesson!
If meeting with clients throughout the day, or chilling at Starbucks, I will grab a mild blend if its before noon, or Zen green tea in the afternoons. Tea in the afternoon really seems to increase my productivity and get me moving. But nothing beats waking up to that Starbucks [addiction] smell.
It’s worth considering long term effects on your body and health (and thus productivity) of running on caffeine. May sound like a great – wow – look at all I’m getting done strategy, but other than having a cup or 2 (8oz is a cup remember…) in the morning, beyond that is addiction. Same with caffeinated tea – but of course you can drink more before you hit the same caffeine effect level.
As someone who can only drink decaf, I’d not really married to the question, but I do get tired of working with/for people who are so loaded on caffeine that they forget the idea of reasonable deadline. And, for me, work is just one piece of life — I want to be feeling calm & present for all of it.
Just as an aside, the comparison between tea and coffee that is linked to from this article is biased — heck it’s on a tea drinker’s site. It claims that there are no benefits to coffee drinking and that’s wrong. Several studies say that Coffee can help diabetics and reduce your risk of getting Parkinson’s: http://men.webmd.com/features/coffee-new-health-food
I prefer coffee but I am not a regular coffee drinker. I think the aroma has a lot to do with it for me. Drinking tea never seems fulfilling to me. I’ve never experienced this crash that people talk about when drinking coffee. Maybe that has something to do with all of the sugar that people put in their coffee and all of these calorie heavy mocha drinks that are so popular. Coffee used to keep me up at night but after I quit drinking soda I haven’t experienced any insomnia. I guess I’m just lucky.
I start my day with a cup of coffee, after that its Black tea throughout the day. Coffee helps me to clear my mind while reading the mails and planning my day ahead, but too much of it makes me hyperactive like a bunny on LCD. So its tea after the first cup.
Coffee…must_ have_ coffee. This is how I wake up first thing in the morning. I can’t really process anything more than basic physical functions until I have coffee. My wife and children measure our mornings from the time before daddy has coffee, to the time after daddy has coffee. My usual moring beverage is iced coffee, with half-n-half, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup. After that the world slams into focus, and the family is on hypredrive until we are all out of the house.
Work is based around the consumtion of diet Coke, until about 2 pm. Then it is straight water, or decafinated diet Coke( or other de-caf diet soda) until about 9 pm. If I have too much caffine too late, I’m like Anne, and can’t sleep.
As for tea, as a true son of the south, it’s iced tea or nothing. Although, inlight of my advancing decrepitude and to avoid any more poundage in the mid-section, I prefer it unsweetened, with lemon. I can’t say that I am a gourmet about the coffee or tea that I drink, but I do prefer Earl Grey and Green Teas, as well as, Jamaican Blue Mountain, Kona, or a good roasted arabica in coffee. The reality is that I’m usually drinking whatever the wife picked up on sale, and am thankful to have that.
just as DAVE GOOD says above: coffee. 1.)This is how I wake up first thing in the morning … 2.)As for tea, as a true son of the south, it’s iced tea or nothing.
1.)same here, by mornings seem rocky, till that first cup. i feel sluggish, irritable, and just plain ole ‘i dont wanna talk, i dont wanna work … where’s my cup??‘ hahaha
2.)and the tea? man o man, have you got that one right … heavily iced, Iced Tea is how i take it. usually in my monster-sized-jumbo-711-44-ounce cup.
For me, I can’t have any type of tea til lunchtime. So my day usually starts out with 1 or 2 cups of coffee (small cups…my office doesn’t give us the big ones).
By lunch time I’m sipping on iced tea, usually with a couple of refills. For dinner I’ll have iced tea again, and occasionally at night I’ll have a glass of hot tea. If I’m out to dinner maybe a cappuccino.
I just can’t do tea in the mornings!
I like both tea and coffee (I used to like tea better before I read the infos in the following links) .I’m not addicted to any of these,I can get up in the morning and continue my day without drink any of these beverages.Yet I would like to increase my daily productivity a little so I have the same questions with Om Malik .
BUT recently I learned that tea has fluoride and by searching i found some very disturbing informations…please check these , especially the reference about tea and tell me what do you think now.
Nobody seems to care Why they need to start their day with a cup of tea…It would be worth to be free or at least to feel free..Starbucks loves you all!
I just stopped drinking coffee. I have changed nothing else in my life, now I sleep better wake up fresh and are more productive during the day. BUT I have gained 15lbs in 5 weeks….. My diet has not change other than no caffeine!!! Says something for the stimulant properties of caffeine!!
I must say ive switched to Green Tea with honey, as the coffee was sending me over the edge, made a whole differance to my day and health.