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teawade said

Can tea truly be decaffeinated?

I keep seeing teas that say decaf but when I went to a tea convention in Philly an instructor told me that this was a common misconception and that tea cannot be decaffeinated. Does this mean that tea will always have at least a partial amount of caffeine or was she just plain wrong?

8 Replies

As I’ve heard it, decaf means that most of the caffeine has been removed, but there will always be some small amount of caffeine left. I would say that tea can be decaffeinated, just not completely. I suppose the word is a bit misleading. The same thing also applies to coffee. Decaf coffee will also have a bit of caffeine still in it.

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The FDA requires 97% reduction in caffeine content before tea can be called “decaffeinated”.

*Or at least it did at the time I researched it though I imagine that number wouldn’t change much.

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Generally speaking, “decaf tea” has 1-15mg of caffeine per 8 oz, if I’m recalling correctly.

“Decaf” in anything does not mean that it is 100% no caffeine, it just means there’s Very Little.

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Scott B said

Caffeine can never be completely removed. If you can’t have any caffeine, then decaffeinated tea is not something you should drink.

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It will always have some. Herbal tisanes are the only “teas” which can contain 0% caffeine. However “decaf” teas typically contain very little.

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teawade said

Thank you all for your replies. This has been bugging me for a while and I hear different things from different people. I’m glad I can finally put this issue to rest. I agree that the word decaf is misconstrued and some people think it means no caffeine at all. Even without the decaffeinated tea, tea really doesn’t have much caffeine anyway does it? From my knowledge black teas have the most but still not nearly as much as a cup of coffee.

The amount of caffeine in any specific tea varies a great deal. The specific tea’s caffeine can affect me strongly or serenely. It’s hard to compare to the aggressive caffeine of coffee, though I’ve had coffee lovers tell me that different types of beans produce different types of caffeine effects. But in general, black tea is considered the most caffeinated and has about half the caffeine as coffee. (in general!) While the caffeine content may be lower in tea, I find that it is more than effective enough if you want a buzz. Sometimes even a single cup of white tea can get my head pounding with a caffeine headache. I definitely can see why decaf teas are appealing. Too bad they don’t decaffeinate the good stuff! But I guess it alters the flavor of the tea, and why would you do that to quality leaves? :)

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Roland said

I read (sorry, can’t find quote at the moment) that tea contains a comparable amount of caffeine to coffee, but that it also contains another chemical which has the opposite effect – effectively cancelling out the caffeine’s effect. Coffee beans do vary in caffeine content, and there are even strains of coffee plant which produce naturally very low caffeine coffee beans (slightly above the legal definition of decaf, but not by that much). I would assume the same is true of teas, and also that processing impacts it significantly.

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