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Decent Decaf - again

I’ve looked up and read some discussions on this topic, 2 – 3 years old but still wondering has anyone ever found a decent (i.e. actually tastes somewhat like tea) decaf tea?

Last night I tried Harney’s decaf Ceylon. It was in tea bag from from my local supermarket and although it wasn’t what I was looking for, it was at least decent enough for me to place an order a small tin of the loose version. Also on the virtue of the Ceylon, a small tin of Harney’s decaf Assam.

Ive tried PG Tips decaf, but to me has a weird built-in milky taste.

Also tried Arbor decaf Chai tea which isn’t too bad but has too much clove taste to be my daily (that is nightly) go to tea. I like more of a Masala Chai, my favorite being Tavalon, but they don’t make a decaf.

26 Replies
Uniquity said

I have decaf English Breakfast from Metropolitan Tea Co, which is decent enough, as well as Vanilla Comoro by Harney and Sons. I tend not to bother drinking decaf as caffeine doesn’t affect me either way and the taste can be weird, but those two happened into my collection and are workable.

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I drink a lot of tea. 3-5 Ooolong steepings in the morning and then a cup or two brewed during the day at work. In the evening I still often want a satisfying cup of tea (something that tastes like tea, not an herbal) but even if I cut out the work tea, the caffeine at night will interfere.

Uniquity said

Most of the time, I think I am blessed to not react to caffeine – I can have whatever tea I want, whenever I want. It can be a downer when I’m drowsy and looking for a pick-me-up though. Good luck!

Nik select said

Uniquity, I am so jealous. I used to be immune to caffeine, as well. Then, a few years ago, I self-medicated and overdosed on Excedrin Migraine. Ever since then, I have become extremely sensitive to caffeine. The saddest part of all this is that this happened just when I was starting to get into tea. =( On a positive note, I am lucky that I love rooibos and could happily drink it all day, every day. =)

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gmathis said

Sounds like you’re on the same quest I am: I have yet to find “the” unflavored decaf black tea that makes me feel like I’ve really had tea to drink. Be sure to post if you find anything plausible!

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I’m interested in anyone’s findings, too. I tried the home-decaffination last night (the whole steeping for 30 seconds, dumping, re-steeping as usual) and had a massive caffeine-incited anxiety attack.

Luckily, I started drinking tea AFTER my issues with caffeine came to a head so I don’t really know what I’m missing out on.

I think the 30 second decaf thing should be on Myth Busters. I try to spread the word whenever I can, but there are always people who read about this “method” from some otherwise trustworthy tea site and then can’t sleep for the night after experimenting. Same with white tea being the least caffeinated tea. If it’s on Myth Busters, this might finally become common knowledge. sigh.

As for decaf teas, I’m in the same boat as you caffeine sensitive folks. I’ve learned to make my peace with honeybush, rooibos and herbals because decaf teas just tend to not taste as good. They start with lesser quality tea so as not to ruin the better stuff, and they don’t blend and flavor the decaf teas as creatively. So if you’re looking for fun, tasty decaf teas, you’re usually out of luck. With the exception of Vanilla Comoro, as everyone’s been saying. It’s a finicky tea though. Needs a shorter than usual steep time for black and lower temp. Gets astringent easily.

I’ve noticed from my own personal experience that cold brewed teas don’t affect me as strongly compared to when hot brewed. I think the temperature of the water has a lot to do with how much and how quickly caffeine is extracted from the leaves. There is still some caffeine, but less. Experiment with cold brewed tea and see how it affects you before drinking it before bed. I’m pretty comfortable with cold brewed at night because I know how it will affect me. Not more than a glassful though! I might try heating up a cold brewed tea for a warm drink that’s not too caffeinated now that the weather is all chilly.

Good hunting all!

Something that might be worth trying though, Nick is a good quality Taiwanese Oolong. They can easily go 3 -5 brewings and some of them many more. But good ones improve with each brewing so that the first few seem like early spring fruit and it’s not until the third that they really come into their own with full flavor. And they can continue to expand and be tasty and delicious for two or three more before starting to go downhill. So you might discard the first 3 brews and only drink from there on. By three or four brewings a lot of the caffeine but not the flavor is gone. I’ve often thought about trying that method myself but I like oolongs so much that I never can bear to pour out those first three brewings.

According to this article, 30 seconds is a 9% reduction in caffeine. http://chadao.blogspot.com/2008/02/caffeine-and-tea-myth-and-reality.html

Love that article! Thanks Stacy! I was too lazy to look for the link. :)

Mercuryhime-I love that article. Just ordered the lecture materials from a session at the WTE expo that was all about caffeine. Its about the findings of an extensive study on tea and caffeine. I’m very curious about the results.

Mercuryhime, I realize that the caffeine in white tea will vary depending on when it is plucked, the shelf life, etc. But is it not true that it is the least caffeinated type as a general rule? If nothing else, it has a short steep time, so there’s less time for the caffeine to leave the leaf.

Daniel, it’s true that the variety and location of tea plant will very the caffeine content, but as a rule, the young buds of the plant has a higher caffeine content than anywhere else on the plant. And white tea is made from the buds exclusively. The article that butiki links to above also shows that oxidation and withering does not change caffeine content that much. It also explains that black and green that’s picked and processed from the same plant on the same day will have the same caffeine content. It stands to reason that a white tea picked from the same plant will have even more caffeine since it is exclusively of the higher caffeinated young buds.

While its true that the shorter steep time and lower temp will extract less caffeine at first, I like to reuse the same leaves until the flavor is gone. After three infusions of a green I will feel high and energized. Three infusions of white will give me a caffeine headache.

Some whites affect me more strongly than others so it must be the different varietals. Some whites probable are pretty low on caffeine. I’ve had enough headaches to be cautious though. :)

I’m not saying that white teas should be ranked higher on caffeine compared to other types. I’m just saying that there’s too many variables to rank the types of tea at all.

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The tea that immediately comes to mind for me is Vanilla Comoro from Harney … It is one of the best decaf teas that I’ve tried.

http://steepster.com/teas/harney-and-sons/3589-vanilla-comoro

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For those who, unlike me only need a less caffeinated tea at night, you might try Houjicha, a Japanese green tea that’s roasted so that the leaves turn brown (no I don’t really understand how that works either). Houjicha is (in my experience anyway) far less caffeinated but still with a lot of flavor, at least for one brewing. To me Houjicha always tastes like a lite version of dark roasted Oolong.

I’ve been able to drink it in the early evening and not have any sleep problems. But still not quite decaf enough for later in the evening.

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BoxerMama said

Vanilla Comoro from Harney is also amazing. Otherwise I’m a red rooibos drinker.

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foolongthehill, I’ll definitely look into that. It had a chance to try Oolong once and while I got pretty sick from the caffeine content, I REALLY liked the taste.

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Janefan said

I agree with the rec’s for H&S Vanilla Comoro. If I hadn’t been told it was decaf, I don’t think I would’ve guessed it based on the taste.

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We have access to a number of decaf teas. Unfortunately, since we don’t sell them we would have 2 pound minimum requirements for purchase. That’s a lot of tea but decaf tea is really cheap, so it might be worth it. Many of those teas are decaffeinated using the CO2 method. This method is the most expensive but generally seen as the best method since it has the least impact on flavor of the general methods used to decaffeinate and ensures more of the antioxidants remain. Also, we can do custom flavorings with decaf teas as well.

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