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Why Tea, Not Coffee?

Why Tea, Not Coffee?



When I was a barista, I was intrigued by the fact that the taste of coffee changes depending on the roasting method and extraction time. But attending a tea master class by chance changed my entire interest and career. What fascinated me the most was that tea has so much more depth and there are levels to it. Moreover, tea can be combined in many ways with other ingredients. That expands the diversity of tea even further.


There are some fundamental differences. The first one is that coffee is made from the seeds of green coffee cherries (usually referred to as ‘green beans’), whilst tea - from the tea leaves.


The second one is colour. The colour of the coffee cherry shows how ripe it is – making it easy to pick the harvesting time. When the green coffee cherries turn red or yellow, they are considered to be ripe. On the other hand, tea is always green regardless of the level of growth.


The other difference is that their harvest periods are varied. The best time to harvest green beans is when more than 75% fruits of a tree become ripe. This period is different depending on the producing areas: from June to February of the following year. On the other hand, in the case of the tea leaves, it takes about 3 to 5 years to mature enough for harvesting. Once a tea plant becomes mature, tea leaves are picked throughout the year. A young shoot and the adjacent two leaves are selected to harvest because the younger they are, the better they get evaluated.

<Picture 1. - The Anatomy Of A Coffee Bean>*                                        <Picture 2. - From  the tea plantation>*


What I think the biggest difference between tea and coffee is: while all kinds of tea start from the same tea plant, coffee derives from different kinds of species and cultivar of trees. Tea is classified differently depending on the degree of oxidation or fermentation, but it is produced from the same tea plant.


I was impressed that tea is categorised into six types, based on the order and the intensity of the process: i.e. how damaged the tea leaves got. It is fascinating that the process of making tea can be adjusted and selected, unlike roasting that is used for coffee processing.

<Table - Riyang-Tea-classifacation(EN)>*


Also, coffee can be given various tastes with artificial ingredients like flavoured syrup and powder. For example, some chocolate flavoured syrup or powder is used to make a cup of café mocha. However, tea is mainly blended with natural ingredients or flavoured with natural essential oils such as herbs, flowers, or dried fruits. Additionally, the essential oils can be extracted from fruit peels, flowers, roots, etc. The most typical example: earl grey tea is flavoured with oil from bergamot peels.


All the differences I have mentioned above can be summarised as below:




Part of Plant

- Bean

- Leaf

Binomial Name

- Coffea Arabica

- Coffea Canephora

- Coffea Benghalensis

- Coffea Congensis

- Coffea Stenophylla

- Coffea Dewevrei

- Coffea Excelsa

- Coffea Gallienii

- Coffea Bonnieri

- Coffea Mogeneti

- Coffea Liberica

- etc

- Camellia sinensis

Best Picking


- Ripe fruits

- Young shoots, Terminal bud and the            adjacent two leaves

Classification Standard

- Species and cultivar

- Processing method

- Harvest Period

- Altitude

Variation Method

- Syrup

- Powder

- Blending of beans

- etc

- Blending with flower, herb, fruits, spices,    etc

- Flavouring with essential oil, etc


The above shows that tea has more variety and is more often combined with natural ingredients than coffee. That’s why I chose studying tea over coffee as a part of my career. For this reason, I decided to come to the UK to study tea and build tea-relevant experiences. Although the timing hasn’t been great due to the COVID-19, I studied and tried various teas. I would like to share my opinion and knowledge with you. Would you be up to explore the world of tea with me?





<Reference> 2021. Coffee vs Tea - Difference and Comparison | DIffen. [online] Available at: <>.

En. 2021. Coffee preparation. [online] Available at: <>. 2021. Tea processing. [online] Available at: <>.

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