I’ve been thinking about switching from coffee to tea as my main caffeine fix ever since I read that when you consider the water involved in growing coffee, coffee wastes a lot more water than tea. Tea is clearly the better choice as far as my “water footprint” goes. But doesn’t it stain your teeth worse than coffee? It certainly stains mugs more. And what about health? How much caffeine is there, really?
I’m finding opinions all over the place online – tea is better, tea is worse, green tea won’t stain and is awesome, green tea stains worse than the others… the internet is full of people who think they know what they’re typing about. So I decided to see what the American Dental Association says about tea:
“If sequenced properly between meals and normal oral hygiene, drinking black tea could reduce the number of cavities and prevent periodontal disease,” said Dr. Wu.
Black tea interferes somehow with plaque and cavity-causing bacteria. Of course, tossing sugar into it would counteract the effect, which is why I heartily recommend Xylitol instead, which tastes exactly like sugar (no, seriously – I’ve been using it for months) but has good effects on everything where sugar has bad ones.
Green tea is at least as good for your teeth, according to many sources. It also helps reduce stress or anxiety while still giving you a caffeine pickup – green tea contains less caffeine than tea and coffee, but I find when I stick to drinking it all day long, I’m nicely alert yet calm.
Benefits of tea
- As I learned above, tea is overall better for your teeth.
- Tea is generally cheaper than coffee. You can brew two cups from every bag or batch of leaves.
- Tea has a number of proven health benefits (scroll down on that page). Coffee does, too, but overall tea has more benefits and less downsides.
- If you think tea bags make tea more of a waste, you can use a tea infuser. Since coffee makers can use permanent filters to eliminate filter waste, this benefit is a wash.
I have no intention of eliminating coffee completely from my diet. I’m just going to save it for a treat instead of making it my staple beverage throughout the day.
- Whichever beverage you choose, here’s a tip for reducing stains on your teeth: don’t brush right after drinking these beverages. The tannins make your enamel temporarily more vulnerable, and brushing may just rough them up, prepping them to let stains sink deeper. Instead, just rinse your mouth with water after finishing a cup.
- Drinking through a straw will confine the staining mainly to the backs of your teeth.
- Whatever you do, don’t brush your teeth too hard.