Tea vs Coffee: Which One is More Acidic?

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Both tea and coffee contain caffeine, which can have a stimulating effect on the body, but can the acidity of these beverages have an impact on our digestive and oral health? This article will explore the science behind the acidity levels of tea and coffee and how they can affect our bodies.

Key Takeaways:

  • Black coffee and tea have similar acidity levels.
  • Unclear if coffee or tea is bad for your teeth.
  • No impact of coffee/tea on digestion.
  • Coffee/tea lower mortality from cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and stroke.

tea vs Coffee: Which is more acidic?

Both black coffee and tea have comparable acidity levels, with coffee ranging from a pH of 4.5 to 6 and black tea from 4.9 to 5.5. Green tea, on the other hand, has an average pH of 10, making it 100,000 times less acidic than black tea. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

LiquidpH
Black Coffee4.5-6
Black Tea4.9-5.5
Herbal Tea6-7
Green Tea7-10
Coffee vs Tea acidity

What Does ‘Acidic’ Mean in Beverages?

When we refer to the ‘acid content’ in coffee or tea, it implies a presence of compounds that impart a sour or tangy flavor. This acidity, stemming from organic acids like chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, and citric acids, influences the taste and aroma of these beverages.

This is why we call it “acidic,” because it tastes similar to foods like lemons or vinegar, which also taste sour. We can taste the acid content in coffee, but it’s usually pretty subtle. Some people might not even notice it.

Acidity Of Tea Vs Coffee
Black tea | Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash

pH and Acidity in Beverages Explained

Let’s nerd out a bit, dive a little deeper, and broaden our understanding of acid, aka pH.

What is pH?

pH measures how acidic or basic a substance is, on a scale of 0 to 14. Anything below 7 is acidic, while above 7 is basic. The pH scale is logarithmic, meaning each whole number change represents a tenfold increase or decrease in acidity.1

Acid Vs Alkaline Infographic Chart

For example, something with a pH of 4 is 10 x more acidic than something with a pH of 5. And something with a pH of 10 is 10 x less acidic than something with a pH of 9.

Here’s a table showing the pH levels of common everyday liquids:

LiquidpH
Stomach Acid1.5-2
Soda2.5
Vinegar2.9
Orange Juice3.5
Romulan Ale đŸ‘Ŋ4
Black Coffee4.5-6
Black Tea4.9-5.5
Urine6
Pure Water7
Blood7.3-7.5
Sea Water7.7-8.3
Baking Soda8.4
Hand Soap9-10
Bleach12.5
pH levels of common liquids

Are coffee and tea bad for your stomach?

Contrary to popular belief, there’s no solid evidence2 that coffee or tea adversely affects stomach health. However, their ability to stimulate stomach acid production might impact individuals with sensitive stomachs.

Are Coffee And Tea Bad For Your Stomach?
Are coffee and tea bad for your stomach?

However, since coffee and certain teas can stimulate stomach acid production3, individuals with sensitive stomachs may be more affected by the acids present in these beverages. So, all in all, neither coffee nor tea is bad for your stomach.

GERD, Acid Reflux, and EE: The Role of Coffee and Tea

A study on coffee conducted in 2019 and published in the Journal of Medicine examined the impact of drinking coffee at least four days a week on 1837 participants. Results showed that drinking coffee (with or without cream) does not cause GERD, acid reflux, or erosive esophagitis (EE). The same goes for tea. According to at least 30 studies, there is zero association between tea drinking and GERD.

does coffee affect digestion?

Coffee doesn’t necessarily aid digestion or cause indigestion. It can stimulate bowel movements and potentially lower the risk of liver cancer. However, its effects vary between individuals. A recent study4 shed light on some interesting findings about coffee consumption.

Here are five key takeaways from the study:

  • Coffee doesn’t improve digestion
  • Coffee isn’t linked to indigestion
  • Coffee doesn’t usually cause stomach discomfort
  • Coffee can help you poop
  • Caffeine in coffee may lower liver cancer risk

Everyone’s body is unique, so what works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to keep this in mind when it comes to coffee and its effects on our health.

A Young Man With A Beard, Smiling
Is coffee bad for your teeth?

Are coffee and tea bad for your teeth?

Yes and no. Mixed findings5 suggest coffee’s both positive and negative impacts on dental health. Cold brew coffee, being less acidic, might be a gentler option for those with sensitive teeth or stomachs.

Note: Consider trying low-acidity single-origin Sumatra coffee if you struggle with regular coffee’s acidity. Check out my top 10 favorite Sumatran coffee beans in my recent post here.

Health Benefits of Coffee and Tea

Coffee is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, significantly lowering the risk of various diseases and promoting longevity. According to a recent study6, drinking three cups of coffee daily can reduce mortality from cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases and stroke.

OutcomeRisk ReductionOptimal Intake
All cause mortality10% lower risk3 cups/day
Cardiovascular disease mortality19% lower risk3 cups/day
Coronary heart disease mortality16% lower risk3 cups/day
Stroke mortality30% lower risk3 cups/day
Cardiovascular disease mortality (per cup increase)2% lower riskN/A
Study results

Is tea good for you?

Tea, known for its lower caffeine content compared to coffee, is celebrated for its diverse health advantages. Available in a spectrum of varieties including black, white, fruit, and herbal teas, it’s not just a beverage but a source of wellness.

A large-scale UK study7 involving half a million tea enthusiasts revealed some compelling health benefits. Regular tea drinkers, consuming at least two cups per day, were found to have a 9% to 13% lower mortality rate from all causes than non-tea drinkers. Notably, frequent tea consumption is associated with several health benefits:

  • Enhanced weight loss
  • Decreased risk of fatal cardiovascular diseases
  • Reduced likelihood of dying from ischemic heart disease
  • Lowered risk of stroke

The relatively modest caffeine levels in tea make it an appealing choice for those sensitive to caffeine or experiencing sleep disturbances post-coffee. Additionally, tea is a powerhouse of antioxidants, offering a shield against cellular damage from free radicals and lowering the risk of various chronic illnesses.

FAQ

Which teas have the lowest acidity?

Fruit teas, chamomile tea, rosehip tea, and mint tea are some of the least acidic teas available. The level of acidity in tea depends on the type of tea, with black and oolong teas being more acidic than herbal and fruit teas. Lemon tea and iced teas are also acidic, as they contain added fruit juices.

Which coffee has the lowest acidity?

The acidity level in coffee can vary depending on factors such as the type of coffee bean, roast level, and brewing method. However, overall, the acidity levels of coffee don’t vary too much. Generally, darker roasts tend to have lower acidity levels than lighter roasts. Some coffee brands also market “low-acid” coffee, which has been processed to reduce acidity levels.

Conclusion

While coffee and tea don’t significantly impact digestive health, their effect on oral health remains inconclusive. Moderation is key in consuming these beverages, which also offer health benefits like reduced mortality from heart-related diseases.

  1. https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/ph-and-water# ↩ī¸Ž
  2. Wei, Y., Hsueh, H., Wen, H., Chen, L., & Wang, C. (2019). The role of tea and coffee in the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease. Tzu-Chi Medical Journal, 31(3), 169-176. https://doi.org/10.4103/tcmj.tcmj_48_18 ↩ī¸Ž
  3. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/003655299750025525 Boekema PJ, Samsom M, van Berge Henegouwen GP, Smout AJ. Coffee and gastrointestinal function: facts and fiction. A review. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 1999;230:35-9 ↩ī¸Ž
  4. Boekema PJ, Samsom M, van Berge Henegouwen GP, Smout AJ. Coffee and gastrointestinal function: facts and fiction. A review. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl. 1999;230:35-9. doi: 10.1080/003655299750025525. PMID: 10499460. ↩ī¸Ž
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9582577/ ↩ī¸Ž
  6. Poole, R., Kennedy, O. J., Roderick, P., Fallowfield, J. A., Hayes, P. C., & Parkes, J. (2016). Coffee consumption and health: Umbrella review of meta-analyses of multiple health outcomes. The BMJ, 359. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j5024 ↩ī¸Ž
  7. Inoue-Choi M, Ramirez Y, Cornelis MC, et al. Tea Consumption and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in the UK Biobank: A Prospective Cohort Study. Ann. Intern. Med. August 30, 2022. DOI: 10.7326/M22-0041 ↩ī¸Ž
Avatar Of Kelsey Todd
With over two decades in the coffee industry, Kelsey is a seasoned professional barista with roots in Seattle and Santa Barbara. Accredited by The Coffee Association of America and a member of The Baristas Guild, he combines practical expertise with a profound understanding of coffee's history and cultural significance. Kelsey tries his best to balance family time with blogging time and fails miserably.

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