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Effects of hot tea, coffee and water ingestion on physiological responses and mood: the role of caffeine, water and beverage type


Psychopharmacological studies using caffeinated beverages or caffeine have rarely considered temporal effects on psychological and physiological function or the specific contribution of caffeine, hot water, or beverage type to the observed effects. The effect of 400 ml hot tea, coffee, and water consumption on systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP), heart rate, skin conductance (a measure of sympathetic nervous system activation), skin temperature, salivary cortisol, and mood were monitored in 16 healthy caffeine-withdrawn (14 h) subjects in a complete crossover design. Beverages were ingested with/without 100 mg caffeine and milk (tea/coffee only). Hot beverage ingestion rapidly increased skin conductance and temperature (+1.7°C) with peak effects observed only 10–30 min post-consumption. Caffeine in the beverage rapidly augmented skin conductance responses but, in contrast to the effect of hot water, reduced the skin temperature response and increased SBP (+2.8 mmHg) and DBP (+2.1 mmHg) 30–60 min post-consumption. Both caffeine and milk addition to beverages independently improved mood and reduced anxiety 30 and 60 min post-consumption. Milk addition had no other effects apart from attenuating the transient increase in physiological responses associated with the drinking phase. There were no effects of beverage consumption on salivary cortisol or of beverage vehicle on salivary caffeine levels, the latter indicating that caffeine pharmacokinetics was similar in both tea and coffee, and not different from caffeinated water. In keeping with this, the responses to tea and coffee ingestion were similar and largely accounted for by the effects of hot water and caffeine. However, tea potentiated the increase in skin temperature compared to coffee and water indicative of a greater vasodilatory response plausibly related to the presence of flavonoids in tea. We conclude that ingestion of hot caffeinated beverages stimulates physiological processes faster than hitherto described, primarily via the effects of hot water and caffeine, but with beverage type and milk playing important modulatory roles.

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Received: 15 March 1997/Final version: 23 May 1997

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Quinlan, P., Lane, J. & Aspinall, L. Effects of hot tea, coffee and water ingestion on physiological responses and mood: the role of caffeine, water and beverage type. Psychopharmacology 134, 164–173 (1997).

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  • Key words Caffeine
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Blood pressure
  • Skin conductance
  • Skin temperature