Tea and caffeine content

Tea and the caffeine content in tea

You have probably read lots of articles online about the caffeine content of tea. Most commonly articles write that the caffeine content of tea is dependent on the the type of tea, where black tea has the highest caffeine content and white tea the lowest.
While this has some truth in it, its not the complete picture. Tea being simply black, green or white, does not determine its caffeine content, that’s a myth. Different research conducted, actually showed that just simply the type of tea does not determine caffeine content, for example a cup of Silver Needle white tea, is among the higher end of the scale when it comes to caffeine content.

What determines caffeine content in tea?

All tea comes from the same plant Camellia Sinensis and thus all tea (except for herbal teas which do not come from the Camellia Sinensis plant) has caffeine in them.
Caffeine in tea itself depends for examples on the amount of shade the plants gets or whether the leaves are newer or older (newer leaves having higher caffeine in them).
The more important things however, which determine the caffeine content are:

  • the amount of tea used in a cup
  • the length of steeping
  • the temperature of water being used

A tea that is brewed for 4-5 minutes with hot boiling water, will have more caffeine in it that a tea that is brewed for 1-2 minutes on lower temperature.
Since black teas are generally brewed for a longer period of time, on higher temperatures, it is understandable why on average it can be said that a cup of black tea has higher amount of caffeine in them.
Another myth is that most of the caffeine is extracted in the first 30-40 seconds. Caffeine is actually extracted through a longer period of time, thus steeping a tea longer increases the caffeine content.

Caffeine in tea versus coffee

While both drinks contain caffeine, research found that an average cup of tea contains significantly lower amount of caffeine than a cup of coffee.
Cup of teas, depending on tea and the method it was created can contain between 10-70mg of caffeine while a cup of coffee between 80-200mg.
It is also interesting to note that the caffeine in tea, does not cause the same jitteriness and crash of energy after a few hours as does the caffeine in coffee. This is due to the other compounds, which are found in tea and counteract the effects of caffeine.

Caffeine content in herbal teas

Even decaffeinated teas contain some levels of caffeine, thus if you would like to completely avoid caffeine intake, herbal teas are your best way to go. Herbal teas such as Chamomile, Peppermint, Lemon Grass etc. do not contain caffeine, they are naturally caffeine free.
Due to their caffeine free nature and other health benefits (each herbal tea having something different), they are great alternatives to regular teas if for example you are sensitive to caffeine or if you are searching for a good bedtime tea. There are also different fruit/herbal blends available which helps you in spicing up your tea drinking habits, to avoid getting bored with one type of herbal tea.

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