Tea and caffeine, what's the buzz? February 10 2015

posted by Nick Schäferhoff

Caffeine is the most widely-used stimulant in the world.  We have all been there. If you need a little pick-me-up at work, extra energy for a long drive, or if there is any other reason to stay awake, most people will opt for this handy substance, often in the form of coffee. As the name suggests, caffeine is usually associated with the dark bitter drink. However, it is also found in other foods and beverages, such as guarana, cocoa, sodas, energy drinks, and of course tea.

The who's who of caffeine

Although I used to love coffee, I have given up on it for various reasons (find out here why I switched it for green tea).

I also really don't like soft or energy drinks. Liquid sugar with the taste of bubble gum from a can? No thank you.

Besides the occasional bar of dark chocolate (85% cocoa with a sprinkle of sea salt, try it and thank me later), tea is my only source of caffeine.

The beverage has been drunk to enhance alertness and concentration for centuries. However, its caffeine content is relatively low. Here is how it compares to other drinks:

Average caffeine content (mg/100ml)

  • Coffee (13-85mg)
  • Green tea (10-19mg)
  • White tea (12mg)
  • Black tea (6-30mg)
  • Coca Cola (10mg)
  • Red Bull (32mg)

Note that there are many factors influencing the caffeine content of tea, including brewing time and temperature, tea grade and tea variety.

 How to reduce the caffeine in your tea

If you are very sensitive to caffeine, there are steps to further reduce the its presence in your tea without compromising the quality of the drink.

First of all, stick to whole-leaf tea instead of tea bags. The latter are usually richer in caffeine than the loose-leaf variety.

Secondly, caffeine can be reduced by throwing away the first infusion. The stimulating substance is quicker to dissolve than other (healthy) tea compounds.

Steeping your tea for 45 seconds in hot water and then pouring away the liquid removes up to 80 percent of the caffeine and eliminates very little of the tea's flavor. Infuse for a second time and enjoy your beverage.