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Caffeine in Tea

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There is a lot of controversy about caffeine in Tea. In the past, the majority of tea retailers and wholesalers have reported that the levels of caffeine in black tea is higher than in green tea, and caffeine in Green tea is higher than White tea.

Studies and information have recently brought to light that this is NOT necessarily the case! There are some White teas that actually have more caffeine than Black teas, and Greens that have more than any other teas.

Because of this recent information, TeaFrog is joining a growing movement to fight the Caffeine myth in tea. We want to ensure that consumers receive the BEST and most UP TO DATE information regarding caffeine in tea. With that in mind, the following are a couple of myths about caffeine in tea that you should be aware of:

MYTH: You can decaffeinate tea by steeping it for 30 seconds and discarding that brew.
FACT: This is just simply not true. A study was done in 1996 that showed a 30 second decaffeination only removes 9% of the caffeine in the cup. This was data based on steeping of 6 different teas, each done three times to account for errors. The same study showed that on average, it took a steeping time of over 5 minutes to remove 80% of the caffeine, and more than 15 minutes (on average) to remove all caffeine. Needless to say, this would also remove all the flavour of the tea in the process!

MYTH: White Tea contains significantly less caffeine than Green or Black Tea.
FACT: Caffeine levels in tea vary not according to type, but rather according to environment, production methods, season, even bush variety. Again, through scientific experimentation, it has been shown that a green and black tea, plucked from the same bushes on the same day produce virtually identical levels of caffeine. Tea consisting of buds and leaf tips (such as White Silver Needle Tea) contains higher caffeine levels than leaf-only such as Bancha or Sencha Green Teas. African Black Teas contain higher levels of caffeine than China Black Teas due to the bush type.

The bottom line is, there are a number of factors that contribute to the caffeine level in the tea, and it is not dependent on the type of tea alone.

MYTH: Decaffeinated teas contain no caffeine.
FACT: There is no such thing as 100% decaffeinated tea, just as there is no such thing as 100% decaffeinated coffee. The decaffeination process does not remove all caffeine. It is successful in removing MOST of the caffeine, but at the cost of removing most of the taste of the tea as well. As well as caffeine, most of the decaffeination processes also remove other chemical compounds such as flavanols (antioxidants) that are actually sought after as health benefits in tea. You may as well drink water at this point for all the flavour and health benefits that you are receiving!

If you want to see more detailed scientific information on caffeine and tea, checkout CAFFEINE AND TEA: Myth and Reality by NIGEL MELICAN. Nigel is a respected expert in the field of tea, and has worked extraordinarily hard to bust the tea and caffeine myth. The tea community in general could use more experts such as Mr. Melican to get the hard facts about tea to the forefront.

If you need to completely eliminate caffeine from your diet, try drinking Herbal or Rooibos tea, as they has no caffeine at all (depending on the ingredients in the blend).

The information herein is compiled mostly from this article from Nigel Melican.
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