A Question Of Caffeine

9 July 2014

“Life is short so stay awake for it” is the strap line of Caribou Coffee from America, but in todays fast lifestyle and a rising awareness of the components of food and drink, caffeine has gained a rather mixed and muddled image. But what exactly is Caffeine and what does it do?

Caffeine is a member of the family of chemicals called methylaxanthines and is found naturally in tea, coffee, mate and cocoa. Caffeine is generally higher in tea than coffee, however in coffee you consume the ground bean, whereas tea you brew then remove. Despite being recognised as identical forms of caffeine, the caffeine in tea is distinguished from that in coffee because it forms different bonds with other substances, changing how it affects the body.

When tea leaves are infused, the caffeine combines with tannins, which attenuate and stabilise its effect. Tannins prevent caffeine from being released rapidly, so it is absorbed over a longer period of time, meaning that the effects occur more regularly and for longer.

In tea, caffeine stimulate the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system by enlarging the diameter of the vessels in the cerebral cortex. On the other hand when coffee is ingested it has a direct effect on blood circulation through the coronary system, stimulating an acceleration of the heart rate.In short tea is more of a natural stimulant than an excitant, sharpening the mind, increasing concentration, eliminating fatigue and enhancing intellectual acuity.

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