When people think of caffeine, they think of coffee, colas, energy drinks, and the likes. They will not think much about tea as caffeine content in this drink is not straightforward.
You see, you cannot tell how much is in tea like you would with coffee. Is there caffeine in tea? Yes, tea contains caffeine. The amount of caffeine in a cup of tea is on average 60 mg. The caffeine content in tea depends on several factors. These include water temperature, oxidation and infusion time.
This article will cover what you need to know about taking tea and its caffeine content. That way, you can tell when you need to slow down on consumption.
What is caffeine?
Before getting into this topic further, we should cover what caffeine is. It is a stimulant naturally found in plants such as tea and coffee bushes.
This psychoactive substance is legal, leading to its widespread use across the globe. It works in blocking the adenosine receptors by mimicking the form of the adenosine neural chemicals.
Without adenosine, you no longer feel sleepy and tired. It owes to the increase in stimulating hormones such as adrenaline, which stimulate a fight or flight response in the system.
As a result, the heart and nervous system work on overdrive, giving you energy and better focus. Did you know that caffeine works as a natural pesticide in plants?
What affects the caffeine content in tea?
The caffeine content in tea is not given like in the case of coffee. Instead, it depends on several factors, such as the leaf properties, amount of tea, water temperature and infusion time. You can alter these factors based on how much caffeine you wish to consume.
Take the leaf properties as an example. These will depend on where the tea bush grew and the conditions therein. Factors such as weather and soil quality come into play. Also, the part of the plant where harvesting took place will matter.
If you consume young buds, you will end up with more caffeine content. Leaves from the lower part of the bush tend to have less of this stimulant.
The tea grade is also of importance as it refers to the condition of the leaves. They can be whole, broken, dusty, or in any other form. Teabags contain the broken form, which releases more caffeine into your drink than loose tea leaves.
However, loose tea leaves offer more in flavor and aroma than tea bags, which have more subdued properties. Powdered teas have very high caffeine content, so much so that you can drink them in the place of coffee.
The tea you need to make one cup will also determine how caffeinated the drink will be. If you add more loose leaves, you end up with a more concentrated drink.
It also comes down to the type of tea in play. With black tea, you require more grams to get the same content you would get from oolongs. You can thus consider switching brands to see what works best for you.
How hot is the water used in brewing the drink? The hotter the water, the more caffeine you will have in the drink. That’s why people often think that black tea is more concentrated than green tea.
The reason for this thinking owes to the measurement of content after brewing. You will find that most people make their green and white teas with water below the boiling point. That interferes with the extraction and lowers the content.
You should also consider how much time you allow the drink to steep. If you are fast with removing the tea from heat, you will end up with less concentration. Consider letting the tea steep for longer if you want to get more of a kick from it. Otherwise, you will end up with a weak drink.
Oxidation is the biggest influencer as to the caffeine content in tea. It refers to chemical processes that occur after harvesting, all of which have a bearing on the result. The leaves are put through processes that allow oxygen to react with their enzymes.
That is why you will find green, white, oolong, and other types in the market, yet they originate from the same family. These processes affect the color of the leaves, aroma, and flavor of the tea and its caffeine levels.
White tea undergoes less oxidization and has less concentration, while black tea undergoes the most oxidization and has the most caffeine content.
However, note that while white tea has the least caffeine, it can have more than black tea based on the preparation process. That is the thing with tea. You cannot tell which kind has the most content when prepared as people make their brews differently.
How much caffeine is in my tea?
Black tea undergoes the most oxidization and thus boasts of flavor. Also, black tea contains the most caffeine such that an eight-ounce cup results in about sixty to ninety milligrams.
This amount is almost similar to what you would get from a coffee brew. That means that you can have about four of five cups before hitting the daily recommended intake of 400 mg caffeine.
Oolong tea is an in-between of black and green tea regarding how much oxidization it goes through. An eight-ounce cup of oolong tea will give you anything from fifty to seventy-five milligrams caffeine.
Green tea works great for people on weight loss journeys and those looking for some relaxation. It has been shown to boost the immune system owing to its many antioxidants. One cup of green tea will give you as many as thirty-five to seventy milligrams of caffeine. That is the equivalent of an instant coffee.
White tea undergoes very little oxidization, and in some cases, none at all. As such, its content is much lower than that of the above teas. You can get anything from thirty to fifty-five milligrams in an eight-ounce cup of white tea. You would need to drink at about eight cups of this to hit your daily limit.
Herbal teas do not come from the Camellia sinensis plant are thus not conventional teas. However, people still regard them as teas. They include chamomile, peach, and hibiscus options, all of which do not undergo oxidation, thus herbal teas lack caffeine.
Note that contamination can take place during processing. However, the levels would be minimal and likely have no effect.
The difference in caffeine in tea and coffee
Given that tea contains caffeine, you might expect people to shun it as much as they do coffee. Well, that is not the case as the stimulant affects tea drinkers quite differently.
You see, tea will give you energy but not as fast as coffee does. It tends to release the energy in small doses such that you remain alert and focused for a long time.
Also, you avoid the crash that is characteristic of high caffeine drinks such as coffee. With these, you fly high for a while before crashing down and feeling terrible such that you need another cup of coffee.
Why do bodies react differently to these contents? It owes to the presence of L-theanine in tea. This amino acid calms you such that you do not feel anxious or jittery.
Additionally, it slows down the release of the stimulant into the bloodstream. You end up feeling energetic but with a balance such that you do not keep pacing up and down.
The funny thing is that in dry weight, tea contains much more caffeine content than coffee. Did you know that? The difference comes in during preparation. You require fewer dry leaves to make one cup of tea than the number of coffee beans needed to make one cup of coffee.
That is why you find tea drinkers using as little as four grams for one cup, yet people drinking coffee use as many as fifteen grams. If tea drinkers were to use an equivalent dry weight, they would consume more caffeine than coffee lovers.
Thus, when it comes to understanding how much caffeine is in tea, you can see that it is a complex task.
Reducing caffeine content in tea
How can you reduce how much caffeine is in your tea? Well, it comes down to a few simple steps.
You should choose a tea with less concentration, such as white tea. The less the oxidization, the less caffeine you will consume.
As you do this, consider other factors such as growing season and field conditions. You can even go for a decaf option, which has all the health benefits with reduced content.
Brewing time matters, and you can work on brewing the tea less than you usually do. Take the example of black tea. Most people use boiling water to make it. How about using hot water instead? That would significantly reduce the caffeine content.
Other tips include using fewer tea leaves, opting for whole leaves, and drinking the tea while hot.