The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, is one of several plants that naturally contain the stimulant caffeine. While tea has many health benefits, people are often concerned about the caffeine content of tea for a variety of reasons. Caffeine is addictive and can lead to withdrawal symptoms if its consumption is stopped suddenly. If consumed before sleeping, it can contribute to sleeplessness, and it is also thought to contribute to anxiety. Many people, including pregnant women, are advised to limit their intake of caffeine for medical reasons. Others avoid it for religious reasons. Even if you consume caffeine gladly, it is important to know about the caffeine content of the tea and other beverages you are drinking. How much caffeine is in black tea.
How much caffeine is in tea?
In general, tea has much less caffeine than coffee, but the caffeine content varies widely from one tea to the next. Many tea companies, and even some reputable entities such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, make misleading generalizations about the caffeine content of broad classes of tea. It is a widespread misconception that black tea contains more caffeine than green. Even more inaccurate is the notion that white tea contains the least caffeine of all teas.
In reality, caffeine content varies more among individual teas than it does among broad categories of tea such as black, white, green, oolong. A study published in 2005 in the Journal of Food Science listed, among other things, the caffeine content of 77 different teas. Alarmingly, the highest caffeine content was found in white tea. Another study in the 2008 Journal of Analytical Toxicology found caffeine contents of teas ranging from 14 to 61 mg per 6 or 8 oz serving, with “no observable trend in caffeine concentration due to the variety of tea”.
What determines the caffeine content of tea?
The use of leaf buds (tips) greatly increases the caffeine content in tea, as the buds have more caffeine than the mature leaves. “Tippy” teas such as Yunnan Golden Monkey or Bai Hao Yinzhen (Silver Needle) are thus much higher in caffeine than those using more mature leaves such as Souchongs or Shou Mei.
Roasting also destroys caffeine. Hojicha, a Japanese roasted green tea, was found in the first study mentioned above to have less caffeine than some decaffeinated teas. Many oolong teas are also roasted to varying degrees and can be lower in caffeine, although other non-roasted oolongs can be very high in caffeine.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the quantity of leaf used and the length of time for which the leaves are steeped are both critical in influencing caffeine content. Both using more leaves and steeping for a longer time will increase the caffeine in a cup of tea.
Most herbal teas contain no caffeine.
The overwhelming majority of herbal teas are caffeine-free. Other than Camellia sinensis, only a few commonly consumed plants contain caffeine. These plants include coffee, Yerba mate, and the Yaupon holly; outside of Yerba mate, these plants infrequently occur as ingredients in herbal tea. In addition to exploring other herbal teas, people desiring caffeine-free tea-like drinks might want to try South African rooibos and honeybush, two plants which are often described as being similar to tea in flavor, health benefits, and manner of production.