Caffeine Content and Myths in Tea By Christopher Heale – Herbs & Kettles
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Caffeine Content and Myths in Tea

There are a lot of misconceptions and confusion around the caffeine content in tea. Two common myths are that black tea's caffeine content is higher than green or white tea, and that a short 30-45 second boiling water rinse can effectively decaffeinate your beverage.
by Christopher Heale
different types of teas have different rates of absorption on caffeine into the bloodstream but does not mean that there is more caffeine present
There are a lot of misconceptions and confusion around the caffeine content in tea. Two common myths are that black tea's caffeine content is higher than green or white tea, and that a short 30-45 second boiling water rinse can effectively decaffeinate your beverage.

Unraveling the Truths and Myths about Caffeine Content in Your Favorite Brews

Actually, It is hard to make general statements about how much caffeine there is in a particular tea, especially given that the temperature and time of steeping can have a significant influence on how much caffeine ends up in your cup.

The variety of tea plant used, the age of the leaves, and the growing conditions all affect the amount of caffeine present in the dry leaf. Younger, tender leaves at the top of the plant require more protection from insects and so produce the highest amount of caffeine whereas older more mature leaves are already stiff and hard and need to produce less caffeine. Tea made from the Assamica bush tends to have more caffeine than the Sinensis bush, and cloned bushes can have more caffeine than seed produced bushes.

How Much Does a Chai (Tea) Have Caffeine Content?

Generally, tea has between 20-70 mg of caffeine per 2.5g of leaf steeped in 170 ml of water compared to 40-155 mg in coffee. In addition, the way that the caffeine is absorbed into your body differs between tea types.

Catechins (also known as tannins) bind with caffeine which slows its release into your system. However, the oxidation process separates the caffeine from the catechins and allows for a more rapid absorption into the bloodstream. Because of this, black tea (which is heavily oxidized) acts as a more effective stimulant than loose leaf green tea but it does not mean there is more caffeine present overall in the black tea. One tea that is consistently higher in caffeine content is Matcha. This is because you are consuming all of the ground up leaf when drinking matcha rather than simply extracting the soluble contents into water as you are with other teas.

There is also the common myth that you can decaffeinate your tea by rinsing in hot water for 30-45 seconds and then pouring this rinse away. In fact, scientific studies showed that steeping for 30-45 seconds only removes about 9% of the caffeine from your tea. To remove all of the caffeine you would need to rinse the tea in 176°F (80°C) water for 15 minutes before throwing that steep away, in which case you are also throwing away most of the positive benefits and flavor as well.

You can reduce the amount of caffeine extracted into your tea by using short steeping times and lower water temperature, but full decaffeination requires rinsing using chemicals such as ethyl acetate, carbon dioxide (CO2), or methylene chloride. These chemicals extract the caffeine while leaving the majority of the polyphenols within the leaf.

Here's a table suggesting the caffeine content of different teas:

Tea Caffeine Levels How Much Is A Tea’s Caffeine Content?
Loose Leaf Green TeaLoose Leaf Green Tea Low Loose leaf green tea generally has sustained release of caffeine into the bloodstream. While the exact caffeine content can vary depending on factors such as the type of green tea, steeping method, and steeping time.
Loose Leaf Black TeaLoose Leaf Black Tea High-Moderate Loose-leaf black tea generally has a faster release of caffeine into the bloodstream. However, the caffeine content can vary depending on the specific black tea, steeping method, and steeping time. If you are sensitive to caffeine or prefer a lower caffeine option, consider exploring decaffeinated black teas or herbal infusions.
Oolong TeaOolong Tea Low-Moderate Oolong tea typically falls between green tea and black tea regarding release of caffeine. However, the caffeine content can vary depending on the specific oolong tea variety, steeping technique, and steeping duration. Oolong tea can be a great choice if you're seeking a moderate caffeine boost.
Jasmine Black TeaJasmine Black Tea High-Moderate Jasmine black tea, also known as jasmine-infused black tea, typically retains the caffeine content of the black tea base. The caffeine content can vary depending on the specific black tea used as the base and the steeping time. If you are looking for a jasmine-scented tea with lower caffeine content, you may explore jasmine green tea or jasmine silver needle, which generally has a lower caffeine level than black tea.
White leaf TeaWhite leaf Tea Low White leaf tea is known for its delicate and subtle flavors. The caffeine content can vary depending on the specific white tea variety, growing conditions, and processing methods. White tea is appreciated for its gentle and light qualities, making it a popular choice for those seeking a milder tea experience or those more sensitive to caffeine as it has the most sustained release of caffeine into the blood stream.

Related read: How to Taste Tea: An Introduction

Myths and Facts about Caffeine in Teas!

Discover the truth behind common myths and facts surrounding the caffeine content in teas. Let's separate fact from fiction and unravel the mysteries of caffeine in teas.

Myth

Fact

All chai (tea) contains the same amount of caffeine.

Caffeine content varies between different types of tea and the release of caffeine into the bloodstream is dependent on its oxidation process.

Black tea has more caffeine than green tea.

Black tea has a higher rate of caffeine absorption into the bloodstream when consumed so it is a faster stimulant.

Herbal teas are caffeine-free.

Some herbal teas may contain caffeine, such as Yerba Mate.

Steeping tea longer removes more caffeine.

Steeping tea longer does not significantly reduce caffeine.

Decaffeinated tea is completely caffeine-free.

Decaffeinated tea still contains trace amounts of caffeine.

Caffeine in tea causes dehydration.

Tea consumption does not lead to dehydration. In fact it is hydrating. 

Caffeine in tea provides an immediate energy boost.

Caffeine in tea provides a more gradual and sustained energy.

Caffeine in tea affects everyone the same way.

Sensitivity to caffeine varies among individuals.

Now you have a better understanding of caffeine in tea, hopefully you can decide what tea and steeping technique is best for you to get the optimal caffeine levels you desire. Here at Herbs and Kettles we have a variety of teas that we source only the highest quality, farm direct Indian teas from producers who put their heart and soul into their product.

Check out our caffeine-free teas today!

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