Tea vs. Colas

Considering that one of the main colas on the market, Coca-Cola, is having an anniversary this month, it seems fitting to take a look at how tea and colas compare. The official date for the invention of Coca-Cola was March 29, 1886, making it a much newer beverage in mankind’s thirst-quenching arsenal compared to tea.

One tale of the first consumption of hot water with some leaves of the tea bush (Camellia Sinensis) steeped in it to add flavor dates back over 5,000 years to Shen Nong, the Divine Farmer, in ancient China. That’s a long time for this beverage to undergo development and to be studied inside and out. In terms of both longevity and variety, tea is definitely way ahead of colas. I’ve seen one count of about a thousand different teas and bunches of varietals of that original tea bush. New locations are working to grow tea, with places like New Zealand and Brazil getting into the act. At the same time, places like the Darjeeling province in India, are trying hard to preserve the unique reputation of their teas.

Since it’s modest beginning, Coca-Cola has changed and other colas/soft drinks have come on the market. But the variety doesn’t even come close to tea, and when you include the tea blends made with spices, fruits, flowers, herbs, and different types of teas, the difference is even more vast.

Colas come in aluminum cans and in bottles made of either glass or plastic. Teas come loose or in some type of bag that you use for steeping, or in a bottled concentrate that you then mix up. However, bottling of pre-made, ready-to-drink tea is more commonplace lately, with several well-known brands dominating the market. Comparing Coca-Cola to a popular bottled green tea with citrus makes the cola look downright healthy, since it has less than half the sodium while having about the same calories and carbohydrates. The bottled tea has coloring, honey, and things with long names such as Calcium disodium edta that colas generally don’t have. There are diet versions of bottled teas that use artificial sweeteners so you wouldn’t get the honey, but you also have the option of diet colas and less sodium. A better option to me is to avoid both the colas and the bottled versions of teas.

Caffeine comparisons consistently show that tea is about the same on average as colas. One site shows a range of 23 to 55.5 milligrams per eight ounces for colas, averaging 39 milligrams. They also show tea as ranging from 15 to 60 milligrams per eight ounces, for an average of 37.5 milligrams. Both are significantly less than what is in coffee and beverages that promote themselves as “energy drinks.”

For me, a big difference is carbonation. Even the pre-made bottled teas don’t have this. Colas, however, always do. The main problem with carbonation is that bloated feeling, followed by a bit of burping that could come out softly or even rather loudly. Since switching to mainly tea as my beverage of choice, I have noticed a difference in my tummy. Much less rumbling.

Just some food for thought here, stuff to keep in mind when you’re trying to decide which thirst-quencher to choose. Enjoy!

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