What is the difference between caffeine and theine?

What is the difference between caffeine and theine?

Let's first dispel a common misconception. The names caffeine and theine actually refer to the same molecule, 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine, which has the chemical formula C8H10N4O2. This alkaloid of the xanthine family is found in various food sources and has a stimulating effect on both the nervous and cardiovascular systems. So, why do we have two names for the same molecule?

To understand this, we need to go back to the early 1820s. A German chemist named Runge extracted a chemical compound from coffee beans and named it Kaffein, which later translated to caffeine in French. A few years later, a French chemist named Oudry isolated a molecule found in tea leaves and named it theine. It wasn't until the late 1830s that it was discovered that these two molecules were identical.

Theine and caffeine: Stimulant or Excitant?

Despite this, tea is known to be less stimulating than coffee. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, the average caffeine concentration in tea does not exceed 200 mg/l, while coffee can easily exceed 1000 mg/l for an espresso. Thus, for the same amount, tea generally contains less caffeine than coffee. But still more than a caffeinated soda.

Furthermore, tea is rich in tannins that delay the absorption of caffeine by the body. This is why tea is said to stimulate without energizing, while coffee excites. This is also due to the presence of theanine in tea, an amino acid with relaxing properties that counteract the excitatory effects of caffeine.

Not only does caffeine have a stimulating effect on our body, but it also has several other effects. For instance, it can increase our alertness, improve our mood, and even boost our memory and cognitive function. It has also been found to have some positive effects on athletic performance and can increase our endurance levels during exercise.

On the other hand, excessive consumption of caffeine can lead to several negative effects, such as increased heart rate, jitters, and even insomnia. Therefore, it is essential to be mindful of our caffeine intake and ensure that we do not consume more than the recommended amount.

In conclusion, both caffeine and theine are identical molecules, and the difference lies in their concentration levels and the presence of other compounds in tea that affect the absorption and effects of caffeine. Whether you prefer coffee or tea, it's important to be mindful of your caffeine consumption and understand its effects on your body.

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