Theine and caffeine: everything you did not know but should!
The reason is easily explained: theine and caffeine are actually the same substance with the same chemical composition. But why do they have different names?
Theine and caffeine: are they the same thing?
Theine and caffeine were discovered relatively recently, around the end of the nineteenth century. And the reason why they took two different names is simply because they were studied and analysed with a ten years gap between findings, first caffeine was discovered and then theine. From a later comparison of the chemical composition of the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant with that of the leaves of the coffee plant, (and here is the surprise): the two substances that had been given two different names actually were exactly the same thing!
Today, therefore, we could say that coffee contains theine and that tea is based on caffeine. So why do we continue to associate theine with tea and caffeine with coffee?
It being true that theine and caffeine are the same thing, what changes is in fact their quantity, and the active ingredient contained within the tea and the coffee. This is why the two drinks have different effects on our body.
The effects of theine in tea and coffee
Which beverage will "wake you up" more: tea or coffee? Surely some of you have already answered the question, yet you might be amazed by what we are about to tell you.
For example, did you know that on average a tea leaf has a concentration of caffeine equal to 3% of its weight? And did you know that the two main factors affecting caffeine are the quality of the tea leaves and how they are prepared? Indeed, the young leaves and the buds of the tea plant generally have a higher caffeine content than the more mature leaves. So white and green teas tend to have a higher concentration of caffeine. It is also true however that the higher the quality of the tea, the lower the caffeine content. And this also applies to coffee.
The tea extraction method, ie infusion, is another important factor that determines the final level of caffeine in the infusion. In fact, the longer the infusion time is extended in hot water, the more caffeine is released into the cup. Once again this rule applies to coffee.
Theine (therefore caffeine) generates different effects if taken with either tea or coffee; let’s take a look at the composition of the tea leaves to find out why. Besides the tea, the Camellia Sinensis plant also contains polyphenols, a set of organic molecules that are very beneficial to the body. It is these molecules which contribute antioxidants to tea, and it is these who are responsible for helping to combat the ageing process of our skin. But that’s not all. Polyphenols, present in large quantities in tea, together with theanine, an amino acid naturally present in tea leaves, slow down the absorption of the theine.
This means that tea stimulates the nervous system of the brain over a prolonged period of time, unlike coffee which only stimulates at the moment of ingestion for a short period of time.
Therefore the fundamental difference between the effect of theine (or caffeine) in tea and coffee is, besides its concentration, the duration of its stimulating action on the nervous system: in tea it acts slowly over prolonged period of time, whilst in coffee it gives an immediate burst of energy.
Babingtons’ teas and coffees
And what about the taste? Now we are opening a whole Pandora’s box of aromas, flavours, toasting methods, expressed both in tea leaf and in the coffee bean varieties. So, de gustibus!
At Babingtons we are undisputed tea lovers, bar none, stretching back to distant 1893 when our two English founders opened the first Tearooms in Rome and in Italy. But over the years we have never stopped exploring the many, herbs, spices, and aromas and the varied range of possibilities for creating a rich choice of first quality teas, herbal teas and coffees.
Let's talk about tea
First there was black tea. A fusion of Darjeeling, Ceylon and China Keemun was Babingtons first ever blend created by our two owners and co-founders who blended their tea at a time when in Italy it was only sold in pharmacies. The blend of Darjeeling, Ceylon and China Keemun was later called Special Blend and has remained one of our favourites over all these years.
We would also like to tell about another black tea with a strong aromatic and energetic charge aptly named Diamond Jubilee. A perfect blend to enjoy in the morning for breakfast, or at any moment during the day when you are looking for a little peace and quiet and a really good cuppa. This blend was created in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee (60th anniversary of her ascent to the throne).
From a taste and aromatic point of view black tea is certainly among the most intense varieties. But do not think that it is also the one with the highest concentration of theine! In fact, even green tea can be very energetic and lively. As in Walk in the Forum; n° 4 in our luxury line of teas, The Seven Teas of Rome. In this blend one can perceive the citrus freshness of orange peel and lime, cedar and bergamot well balanced by the wild aromas of red fruits, hibiscus and rose hips.
Let's talk about coffee
Over the years we have discovered the love and passion for another drink besides tea: coffee. For this reason, after a long process of research and selection from and of the best raw materials, we have created our line of highly prized grand cru coffees.
Alongside the classic espresso and cappuccino, we make our delicious American coffee with an exclusive blend of 100% Arabica coffee from Ethiopia, India, Colombia, Guatemala and Brazil.
Our Babingtons Coffee Blend is a perfect combination to start the day packed with taste and energy thanks to its aromatic complex of fruit and flowers, caramel and citrus and a slight aftertaste of hazelnut and chocolate.
But our coffee selection does not end here. There is another type of coffee that we could not possibly be without in our Tearooms, that is our drip brew coffee or filter coffee. Just as with tea, this drink follows the simple rules of infusion of the ground coffee beans in hot water.
What characterises our drip brew coffee is its complexity of aromas and flavours often tending to a natural sweetness, unlike for example the stronger and bitter espresso. This type of coffee is less aggressive on the palate compared to the typically Italian variant, and depending on the chosen blend, you may well encounter some very intriguing scents and aromas. Caramel, honey, chocolate, vanilla ... take a look at our single origin coffees and explore a side to coffee you have never known before.
In our shop you will find many other teas, herbal teas and coffee formats to be enjoyed at any time of the day, comfortably at home or you can come to our Tearooms and experience taking tea in a typical English setting, Babingtons is ready to welcome you every day, as always, in Piazza di Spagna.