Whether you prefer a morning “cup of joe” or a “spot of tea” in the afternoon, both are proven to contain significant health benefits. I took the liberty of doing some digging on the net and came up with a few articles on the benefits of coffee and the benefits of tea. This is not meant to be taken as health advice. Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks to you as we are all different and health conditions vary from person to person. And of course, As we learn in Islam, everything in moderation….
Ok, First let’s start with coffee:
“Overall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful,” says Tomas DePaulis, PhD, research scientist at Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Coffee Studies, which conducts its own medical research and tracks coffee studies from around the world. “For most people, very little bad comes from drinking it, but a lot of good.”
Consider this: At least six studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s, with three showing the more they drink, the lower the risk. Other research shows that compared to not drinking coffee, at least two cups daily can translate to a 25% reduced risk of colon cancer, an 80% drop in liver cirrhosis risk, and nearly half the risk of gallstones.
Coffee even offsets some of the damage caused by other vices, some research indicates. “People who smoke and are heavy drinkers have less heart disease and liver damage when they regularly consume large amounts of coffee compared to those who don’t,” says DePaulis.
Recently, alot of buzz has also been generated about coffee’s effect on short term memory:
One benefit of drinking a daily cup of coffee is improved mental performance. Coffee helps improve alertness, attention and wakefulness that can actually improve mental and work performance. Groggy workers often miss important details and may make mistakes that they wouldn’t otherwise make. A cup of coffee awakens the brain and helps you to be more alert in your daily performances, whether as a worker, student or parent.
Another benefit that coffee may provide is aiding in Short Term Memory. The caffeine acts as a stimulant to the brain so that the attention can be drawn to what is necessary to focus on.
Indeed, the brain responds to coffee in a unique way. The extra alertness can often help to focus, concentrate and even remember details at a higher rate.
Coffee also aids workers to concentrate. 200mg of caffeine can significantly reduce the tendency towards sleepiness and convert grogginess to alertness and concentration. In fact, coffee usually helps workers for at least 5-7 hours which can help out for the entire shift.
Also, many workers will find themselves feeling especially groggy after lunch. This is also an efficient time to drink coffee because attention, memory and concentration are most likely a part of the job. There are also studies that have shown that people who drink coffee over the lunch hour are more contented and more interested in their work, as well as more alert. However, it is also important that addiction to coffee can eventually increase the rate of irritability.
It is also important to consider what is necessary to perform at your best. Coffee can actually increase information processing by 10%. This is especially important for repetitive work. Coffee can also help to deal with the problem of headaches. (Source: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/80620/benefits_of_drinking_coffee_why_that.html)
Now for the tea:
A 2006 study published in the September 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded “Green tea consumption is associated with reduced mortality due to all causes and due to cardiovascular disease but not with reduced mortality due to cancer.” The study, conducted by the Tohoku University School of Public Policy in Japan, followed 40,530 Japanese adults, ages 40-79, with no history of stroke, coronary heart disease, or cancer at baseline beginning in 1994. The study followed all participants for up to 11 years for death from all causes and for up to 7 years for death from a specific cause. Participants who consumed 5 or more cups of tea per day had a 16 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality and a 26 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease than participants who consumed less than one cup of tea per day. The study also states, “If green tea does protect humans against CVD or cancer, it is expected that consumption of this beverage would substantially contribute to the prolonging of life expectancy, given that CVD and cancer are the two leading causes of death worldwide.” 
A study published in the February 2006 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded “A higher consumption of green tea is associated with a lower prevalence of cognitive impairment in humans.” 
In May 2006, researchers at Yale University School of Medicine weighed in on the issue with a review article that looked at more than 100 studies on the health benefits of green tea. They pointed to what they called an “Asian paradox,” which refers to lower rates of heart disease and cancer in Asia despite high rates of cigarette smoking. They theorized that the 1.2 liters of green tea that is consumed by many Asians each day provides high levels of polyphenols and other antioxidants. These compounds may work in several ways to improve cardiovascular health, including preventing blood platelets from sticking together (This anticoagulant effect is the reason doctors warn surgical patients to avoid green tea prior to procedures that rely on a patient’s clotting ability) and improving cholesterol levels, said the researchers, whose study appeared in the May issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons. Specifically, green tea may prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” type), which, in turn, can reduce the buildup of plaque in arteries, the researchers wrote.
A study published in the August 22, 2006 edition of Biological Psychology looked at the modification of the stress response via L-Theanine, a chemical found in green tea. It “suggested that the oral intake of L-Theanine could cause anti-stress effects via the inhibition of cortical neuron excitation.”
In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial done by Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, 240 adults were given either theaflavin-enriched green tea extract in form of 375mg capsule daily or a placebo. After 12 weeks, patients in the tea extract group had significantly less low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and total cholesterol (16.4% and 11.3% lower than baseline, p<0.01) than the placebo group. The author concluded that theaflavin-enriched green tea extract can be used together with other dietary approaches to reduce LDL-C.
A study published in the January, 2005 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded “Daily consumption of tea containing 690 mg catechins for 12 wk reduced body fat, which suggests that the ingestion of catechins might be useful in the prevention and improvement of lifestyle-related diseases, mainly obesity.” 
Antioxidants in green tea may prevent and reduce the severity of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine study published in the April 13 2005 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study examined the effects of green tea polyphenols on collagen-induced arthritis in mice, which is similar to rheumatoid arthritis in humans. In each of three different study groups, the mice given the green tea polyphenols were significantly less likely to develop arthritis. Of the 18 mice that received the green tea, only eight (44 percent) developed arthritis. Among the 18 mice that did not receive the green tea, all but one (94 percent) developed arthritis. In addition, researchers noted that the eight arthritic mice that received the green tea polyphenols developed less severe forms of arthritis.
A German study found that an extract of green tea and hot water (filtered), applied externally to the skin for 10 minutes, three times a day could help people with skin damaged from radiation therapy (after 16-22 days). 
A study published in the December 1999 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that “Green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation beyond that explained by its caffeine content per se. The green tea extract may play a role in the control of body composition via sympathetic activation of thermogenesis, fat oxidation, or both.”
A study in the August, 2003 issue of a new potential application of Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences found that “a new potential application of (–)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate [a component of green tea] in prevention or treatment of inflammatory processes is suggested” 
Benefits of Black Tea:
The USDA recently stated that drinking black tea may lower bad cholesterol levels and could one day be used to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
While studies show that black tea may lower the risk of heart disease, more studies are showing the benefits of black tea in relation to lowering the risk of cancer. Black tea can relieve diarrhea, lower cholesterol levels, and even help prevent tooth decay. Black tea has been shown to normalize blood pressure, expand the airways of asthmatics, and has recently been shown to lower the risk of lung cancer in light smokers.
This tea is said to contain even higher amounts of the cancer fighting antioxidants than green tea. White tea may also prevent and halt the progress of bacterial infections such as strep,pneumonia, etc. And like other teas, is shown to have dental benefits.
A few tips to get the most out of your tea (source: Harvard women’s health watch)
- Drinking a cup of tea a few times a day to absorb antioxidants and other healthful plant compounds. In green-tea drinking cultures, the usual amount is three cups per day.
- Allow tea to steep for three to five minutes to bring out its catechins.
- The best way to get the catechins and other flavonoids in tea is to drink it freshly brewed. Decaffeinated, bottled ready-to-drink tea preparations, and instant teas have less of these compounds.
- Tea can impede the absorption of iron from fruits and vegetables. Adding lemon or milk or drinking tea between meals will counteract this problem.
So, next time you put the kettle on, think of all the benefits you are getting.
A worthy post to check out on coffee and the unfortunate trade practices surrounding it: