Lesson #4: Caffeine Answers

Tea Caffeine

Can’t sleep? 

It may be that you're excited that you're learning so much about tea… or maybe it’s just the caffeine.

Called "theine" at the time, caffeine was first discovered in tea in 1827. It was later discovered that the "theine" of tea was identical with the coffee's caffeine, and the term "theine" was then dropped.

Difference between Tea and Coffee's caffeine content

The biggest myth about the caffeine content of coffee and tea is that tea contains more caffeine than coffee. This is true when measuring coffee and tea in its dry form, but this is false when comparing brewed coffee and tea.

The amount of caffeine in coffee or tea depends on a number of factors, including the method and length of brewing or steeping. The longer the tea leaves have fermented in processing, the greater their caffeine content.

With tea, studies also show that leaf location on the tea plant affects the content of caffeine in that tea. This is why amounts reported are so variable.

Caffeine content is also altered by the length of the infusion in water.

Black tea (or flavoured black) infused for 5 minutes yields about 40 milligrams.

A cup of Oolong tea yields 30 milligrams, 20 mg for green and 15 for white.

However, keep in mind that, because tea bags contain broken leaves of smaller size, they produce an infusion with more caffeine than loose tea does. This is also true of very fine loose tea.

Now, compare this to coffee: the same volume yields at least double the amount at 80 mg. In fact, most colas have more caffeine as well, containing 45 mg on average.

Here is the caffeine information from the article written by Bruce Richardson. Each 7-ounce cup of tea was steeped for three minutes.

  • Assam Black Tea (86 mg)
  • Bai mu dan/China White tea (75mg)
  • Chinese ti kuan yin oolong: 37 mg
  • Darjeeling white tea: 56 mg
  • Indian green tea: 59 mg
  • Kenyan green tea: 58 mg
  • Ceylon black tea (OP Grade): 58 mg

It is the relief from fatigue that tea provides that is a big reason for its popularity. This is due to the fact that the caffeine in tea is water soluble so your body digests it easily and passes through your system (much faster than coffee). This brings a quick, tangible feeling of relief and relaxation.

On the other hand, caffeine in coffee is not water soluble so it stays in your system longer keeping you awake well into the night, not as an effective relaxing agent.

There has been much concern in the United States recently about the possible dangers of caffeine.

Caffeine tolerance differs greatly among individuals, some are more caffeine sensitive than others. A common misconception is that those who are caffeine intolerant should stock up on Decaf tea. Decaffeinated tea, in fact, is not caffeine free. It still contains about 5-10 mg per cup.

How Teas are Decaffeinated

There are two methods in which teas are decaffeinated, each with its pros and cons.

1. Ethyl Acetate

The first uses ethyl acetate, a chemical solvent, which is passed through the leaves. As it travels through, the ethyl acetate takes the caffeine with it. While this method is inexpensive, it is not entirely known how safe it is (a small amount of chemical residue may remain).

2. Carbon Dioxide

In the second method, carbon dioxide decaffeination, tea leaves are put under heat and pressure and treated with carbon dioxide gas. The carbon dioxide mixes with the caffeine, the pressure is released, taking the caffeine along with it.
While this method is more expensive, it uses no harmful chemicals and is naturally safer.

3. DIY method

However, there is also an easy way to “make your own” decaf tea. Just brew a cup as normal, leaving the leaves in the hot water for about 30 seconds. Then drain the tea leaves and rebrew… The caffeine content is almost completely lost with the first brewing (in fact, just as much caffeine is equal to any commercial decaf!).

To eliminate caffeine intake completely, one must try switching to herbal tea. All real tea is made from the same plant, camellia sinensis, which contains caffeine. Herbal infusions, such as Chamomile, Rooibos and Peppermint, are made from botanicals not related to camellia sinensis, and they are naturally caffeine free.

Recommended: Check out our herbal teas collection


Caffeine coffee vs tea | Tavalon Tea Australia