chadao said

Sorting Through the Myths -- Caffeine in Tea

You may heard these claims about caffeine in tea before:

1. The caffeine content in tea is directly related to its method of processing/oxidation. White teas, as the least processed, have the least amount of caffeine, and black teas, which are fully oxidized, have the most caffeine.

2. Giving tea a 30 second steep will remove most of the caffeine.

You may believe these claims. However, scientific studies are beginning to debunk these claims as myths.

Research, as of 2004, is beginning to show that the caffeine content of tea is much more complex. The bullets below describe some of the findings.

—Green and black tea have roughly the same amount of caffeine when they come from the same part of the plant (i.e. the buds, first leaves, etc.)

—the assamica varietal of the camellia sinensis generally contains about 30% more caffeine than its cousin, the sinensis varietal.

—The top parts of the plant, that is, the buds and youngest leaves, have the highest amount of caffeine, as well as the highest concentration of nutrients

— Tea bushes that have been fed large amounts of nitrogen rich fertilizer will have more caffeine (Japanese tea is especially noteworthy here)

— It actually takes about a five minute (compare to 30 seconds!)to remove most of the caffeine in a loose leaf tea. 30 seconds will remove very little of the caffeine.

For more information, and to confirm, you can visit

What do you think about these conclusions? Do they hold up well? What conclusions would you draw from them personally, i.e. how might they affect your own tea drinking habits? How might they relate with your own experience when it comes to the energy level that you might get from a particular tea?

2 Replies
Bonnie said

I’ve read that the amount of bud determines the caffeine (more bud more caffeine) content as well as processing of the tea. Some white and tippy tea’s would be higher in caffeine. A tea like Lapsang Souchong would be low caffeine. There is no hard rule about White, green, black, puer, oolong…they have to be judged as stated based on content (buds) and processing method.

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I’ve read about this research before. I became suspicious when I first tried to decaffeinate a tea bag some years ago with the 30 second method but I still got wired. Then I had white tea at some point in the evening and it made me feel much more caffeinated than black tea even. I knew something was wrong with the stuff I’ve been told about tea and caffeine. So I looked into it and found that caffeine and tea is much more complicated than the majority of people want to know. Even temperature of water makes a difference in caffeine extraction. I’ll see if I can find the article I read on that when I get home.

Anyway, these days I try to drink my real tea before evening then switch to caffeine free or decaf for night time.

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