Coffee and tea have been used by cultures across the globe as both a mild stimulant and as a means for social interaction and ritual. We meet our friends for coffee or tea, brew copious amounts in our break rooms at work, and celebrate the end of a meal with a steaming cup. But what’s the secret behind these popular drinks, and what, if any, are their health benefits? Do you really know what you’re consuming each morning as you drag yourself to the cupboard to make yourself a hot cup? Our curiosity got the best of us too, and here’s what we discovered.

Coffee & Espresso

One of the world’s largest agricultural crops, coffee has been consumed as far back as the 15th century. Cultivated in parts of South and Central America, Southeast Asia, and Africa, coffee is made by roasting and grinding the seeds of the coffee berry. Water is then added to aid in extraction and the result is a nutritious and delicious cup of black gold. Brewed coffee and espresso both contain larger amounts of caffeine than tea, as well as nutrients including magnesium, potassium and B vitamins. Coffee has been shown to support athletic performance, heart health and mood. Coffee and espresso have also been shown to alleviate the symptoms of migraine headaches and aid in weight loss by stimulating metabolism.

Green Tea

Originating in China nearly 4,000 years ago, green tea has recently become more common in Western nations and contains less caffeine than coffee and espresso. It is rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that have been shown to contribute to healthy aging, and it has also been associated with lowered cholesterol and a reduced risk of hypertension. The high antioxidant content of green tea has also been shown to help acne-prone skin and to support joint mobility and flexibility.

Black Tea

Black tea has similar health benefits to green tea and coffee. High in polyphenols, black tea has also been shown to boost the immune system. L-theanine is yet another reason to consume tea. This powerful amino acid has been shown to aid in relaxation and concentration, and when combined with the small amount of caffeine in tea, makes a great pick-me-up anytime of day.