A Kenyan farmer checks coffee cherries at his plantation in Mukuruweini Nyeri, 120 km (75 miles) northwest of the Kenyan capital Nairobi February 23, 2006. Even in Kenya's lush, misty central highlands, the stinging drought facing east Africa is showing up in the form of sickly yellow coffee leaves. Picture taken February 23, 2006. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

London - For those who find “tea or coffee” a question too far first thing in the morning, relief may soon be on hand – a combination of both.

Researchers claim they have discovered the ultimate brew – a tea made from coffee leaves which is healthier than both of the drinks.

The coffee leaf tea, which is said to have an “earthy” taste that is less bitter than tea and not as strong as coffee, boasts high levels of compounds which lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease, experts said.

It also carries far less caffeine than traditional tea or coffee and contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The coffee leaves were analysed by researchers from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, South-West London, together with researchers in Montpellier, France.

They believe the drink – from the leaves of the coffea plant – has thus far been overlooked because of the preoccupation with the plant’s seeds, coffee beans, which are nowhere near as healthy.

While there is evidence coffee leaf tea is drunk in places such as Ethiopia, South Sudan and Indonesia, previous attempts to import it into Britain from as early as the 1800s have been unsuccessful. After analysing 23 species of coffee plant and finding many health benefits, the researchers now hope the coffee tea could rival the well-established types of coffee and black and green teas in Britain.

Dr Aaron Davies, a botanist at Kew, reported in the journal Annals of Botany that seven species of coffee plant contained high levels of mangiferin – a chemical usually found in mangoes which is believed to have anti-inflammatory effects as well as lowering cholesterol, protecting neurons in the brain and reducing the risk of diabetes. The leaves were also found to hold high levels of antioxidants, which reportedly help combat heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Dr Davies said:”‘In 1851 people were touting it as the next tea and there were all these reports about its qualities. It was said to give immediate relief from hunger and fatigue, and ‘clear the brain of its cobwebs’. It was also said to be refreshing – although some found it undrinkable.”

Coffee was first cultivated as a drink in the 12th century by the Arabs and arrived in Britain in the 17th century.

Today coffee is the second most valuable commodity in the world, after crude oil, with more than 400 billion cups drunk worldwide each year. - Daily Mail