Is there caffeine in my cup of tea? How much?

One of the questions I most often get asked when serving tea is, ’how much caffeine does my tea have?’ Most tea drinkers either want a lot of it, or none at all if it’s later in the day or if they are caffeine sensitive. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at just how much caffeine is in your favourite cup of tea, and why caffeine free drinkers should opt for herbal tisanes (fruit/floral/herbal infusions such as peppermint or camomile) over decaffeinated teas. 

It’s important to keep in mind that the amount of caffeine in your tea depends on several factors like type, leaf varietal, water temperature, amount, steeping time and grade (think tea bag tea vs. loose leaf tea). As there are so many determinants impacting the amount of caffeine in tea, I would recommend not referring to infographics that list caffeine content per category of tea (such as green tea contains xx mg of caffeine whereas black tea contains xx mg of caffeine). While they can serve as baseline amounts of caffeine for the different types of tea, the actual amount of caffeine varies greatly for the reasons listed above. 

Infographic by the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada. For more information or resources please visit https://www.tea.ca

Every type of tea is caffeinated, because all tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant, which naturally contains caffeine. Caffeine can only be removed through expensive chemical processes or through the use of carbon dioxide, leaving tea leaves with >1% caffeine. When solvents are used, the tea leaves are placed in large vats and exposed to organic liquid solvents such as methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. The caffeine is dissolved by the solvent, and both the solvent and caffeine exit the vat once the process has been completed. The tea leaves are dried and resifted and re-enter the manufacturing process to be enjoyed by consumers. Typically the decaffeination process increases the price of tea by 400-700%. 

Decaffeinating tea often strips the leaves, leaving them less flavourful and aromatic. Often this process leaves behind one dimensional tea leaves, resulting in a flat tasting tea. If you are looking for a caffeine free alternative, its best to enjoy herbal tisanes. Herbal tisanes are caffeine free and full of flavour, making them the better caffeine free option. Only herbal tisanes are naturally caffeine free as they do not contain any tea. Some examples of tisanes or herbal infusions are lemon and ginger, peppermint or camomile. 

You can expect your cup of tea to have around 66% less caffeine than your cup of coffee. If you are looking for a caffeine free alternative to your favourite brew, I would suggest steeping an herbal tisane. Full of flavour, tisanes are naturally devoid of caffeine, such as mint leaves. I recommend steeping your herbal tisanes for 3-5 minutes at 100 c, using around 1 teaspoon per cup. Do you opt for caffeine free tisanes after a certain point in the day? Or are the moderate levels of caffeine in tea the perfect amount for you? Let us know what you think in the comments section. 

Thanks for reading! #teabyplandevida


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