All about Tea and Caffeine

Especially if you're new to tea, you may have some questions about tea and caffeine. Does all tea have caffeine? How much caffeine is in tea? Are there any benefits or precautions with caffeine in tea? Keep reading for some answers to these and other tea and caffeine questions. 

What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a chemical stimulant produced naturally in the seeds, fruit, and leaves of certain plants (such as tea, coffee, cocoa, guarana, and yerba mate). Caffeine enjoyed in moderation is known to provide many benefits (including boosting energy, improving performance, and lifting our spirits), but also comes with some precautions and potential concerns.  

Tea and Caffeine | The Tea Talk

Does all tea have caffeine? 

Traditional teas do contain caffeine - this includes all teas from the Camellia sinensis tea plant (black, green, pu-erh, oolong, and white tea), which are naturally caffeinated. And, since caffeine is water soluble, the caffeine is drawn from the teabag or leaves when you brew a delicious cup (or pot) of tea.

| Related:  Making the Perfect Cup of Tea

When choosing tea, don't confuse "caffeine-free" with "decaffeinated." Herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free and have never contained caffeine. "Decaffeinated" tea has been chemically processed to remove most (but not necessarily all) of its naturally occurring caffeine. Decaffeinated tea can often be far less flavorful than herbal and traditional teas. 

However, herbal teas (such as Rooibos, peppermint, and chamomile) are naturally caffeine-free. An exception is yerba mate, which is an herbal tisane that is a natural source of caffeine. 

How much caffeine is in traditional tea? 

Even though you may have heard that choosing white or green tea (rather than black tea) means less caffeine, it's not quite that simple. Actually, a variety of factors affect the caffeine content in tea, and it can be tricky to figure out just how much caffeine you're ingesting as you happily sip your favorite brew. 

In general, here are caffeine amounts for tea and herbal tisanes:

Tea and Caffeine | The Tea Talk

The range of caffeine levels for "Tea" in the chart above reflects the many variables that can affect caffeine amounts in tea. According to Nigel Melican, founder and Managing Director of Teacraft Ltd. (from the Cha Dao blog), a tea's caffeine levels can be affected by numerous factors, including the type of tea plant, how it was fertilized, when it was grown, how it was processed, and whether the tea is from leaves, buds, or a combination of these.

Brewing time, as well as the amount of tea and water used, will also affect caffeine in tea (e.g. a longer steeping time increases caffeine concentration). 

Tea and Caffeine | The Tea Talk

Because tea caffeine amounts are affected by many variables, caffeine levels can vary widely within each individual tea type (whether black, oolong, pu-erh, green, or white). And, caffeine levels between the types tend to overlap. 

Even so, if you are concerned about tea and caffeine, rest assured that tea, as a rule, has less caffeine than coffee, most soft drinks, and energy drinks, and it can provide you with a host of wellness benefits, too. In addition, because tea is inherently calming, many find they don't have the same side effects with caffeinated tea as they do with other caffeinated beverages (feeling jittery, troubled sleep, and so on).  

As a general rule, drinking no more than 3 or 4 cups of tea daily will keep us well within the recommended maximum 200 - 400 mg caffeine per day. Be sure to note the serving sizes indicated above - our society loves its "grande" and "venti" drinks, and we often lose sight of how much we are really consuming. 

Can caffeine be removed from tea? 

You may have heard that removing caffeine from tea is as simple as pouring out the initial 30-second infusion and brewing the teabag or leaves again. However, studies have shown that the initial infusion would actually require a 15-minute steeping time to remove 100% of caffeine.

Or, you could just thoroughly enjoy your beneficial cup of black or green tea... and follow it up with a healthful, caffeine-free herbal tisane if you've had enough caffeine for the day. 

We each react differently to caffeine (whether in traditional tea, coffee, or another caffeine source), so it's a good idea to stay informed about caffeine and its potential benefits and concerns, as well as keeping an eye on how caffeine affects your uniquely special body.

More about Tea and Caffeine

To learn more about caffeine, such as recommended maximum daily amounts, visit our Caffeine Facts page

If you're ready to get brewing and enjoy some traditional or herbal tea, drop by our Tea Recipes section for tips and recipes for making a lovely big mug of tea. And, we'd love to hear about your favorite tea... connect with us on Facebook to share your tea comments and stories with fellow tea lovers! 

> Tea and Caffeine


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