Caffeine content in puerh

So I’ve had a few puerhs in my life but not too many different ones. From my limited experience, it seems that the caffeine content is low to moderate. Possibly, the cooked version might be lower in caffeine. Again, this is my own experience. I’m wondering about the experiences of others. Is the caffeine low or high? Difference between cooked and raw? Is there an official stance out there on puerh?

I looked around on google but the info I found was sparse and, frankly, not trust worthy. There’s just too many sites out there still claiming that white tea has little to no caffeine and that you can decaffeinate your own tea.

Thanks for your input!

8 Replies

I haven’t noticed the caffeine content of pu-erh to be much different from regular green or black tea. I usually find the raw pu-erhs to be a bit more stimulating than the cooked ones. I know that isn’t very scientific – sorry!

Thanks for your input! I find caffeine varies so much even within tea types that my question is sort of futile anyways. Some black teas give a mellow buzz and others make my heart pump like crazy. I just wanted a general idea. :)

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teaenvy said

This might help..

I googled “caffiene content in fermented foods”

Awesome! Thank you!

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Geoffrey said

Hi Mercuryhime. I don’t have any solid data, but speaking from anecdotal experience drinking a good array of pu’ers it has seemed to me that the relative caffeine content from one pu’er to the next can be highly variable. For instance, I mostly feel like drinking shu (cooked) pu’er in the evening at around say 9pm, after I’ve finished eating for the day, and it typically relaxes me and doesn’t keep me from falling asleep. Although there is one shu pu’er we’ve carried at Verdant that I’ve found quite stimulating. When I revisited that for the first time in a while one recent afternoon, it energized me so much I felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin. That one kinda feels like an exception to the general rule through.

I think my experience of the stimulation level between sheng and shu pu’er is similar to what Amy mentioned. Sheng (raw) pu’er generally feels more stimulating than shu. I don’t know if the age of the tea makes any real difference in the caffeine content. It’s hard to say without someone making a controlled laboratory experiment to study the chemical composition of various brewed pu’ers. One thing I would like add though from a chemistry standpoint is that the chemical composition of any of these teas is a pretty complex thing to consider because we’re talking about many dozens to hundreds of chemical interactions existing in a plant at the same time, among which caffeine is just one factor. In the chemistry of a given plant there are all kinds of things that can potentiate, mitigate or alter other things present in the mix. Another layer of complexity is added by the factor of how the tea is processed. And yet another layer is added by the factor of a given person’s internal chemistry interacting with what goes into their body. In terms of variation and uniqueness, we’re talking about snowflakes… No two configurations are exactly alike.

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David Lau said

I agree with Geoffrey. Different Pu’ers make me feel different ways. Perhaps it has to do with the fermentation “formula” each factory uses? I’m not exactly sure. Sometimes they will keep me awake and sometimes they relax me.

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chadao said

I’m making a humble, yet educated guess here. There are several factors that go into the caffeine content of tea. A tea, regardless of type, will have more caffeine when:

1. the tea has mostly buds and young leaves
2. the plant is of the Assamica varietal rather than sinensis
3. the plant is a young cutting, rather than a seedling
4. the plant was fertilized with lots of nitrogen
5. the plant experiences a quick growing season
(to confirm these claims, visit chadao’s (not me) blog on the myth and reality of caffeine in tea)

So now, let’s relate this information to pu’er. Pu’er has ten grades of leaves, 1 being buds, and 10 being the biggest and oldest leaves. Take a look at your pu’er leaves. Are they small and young, or are they larger and firm? If the former, then there is probably more caffeine. If the latter, then you may be a little safer.

Other caffeine factors. Pu’er is Chinese, so it comes from a sinensis plant, rather than Assamica. Also because it is Chinese, it is likely an older seedling bush that was fertilized minimally or even organically, giving it even less caffeine than other teas (Japan is the one that is famous for using nitrogen rich fertilizers). Finally, the past few winters in China have been very harsh, indicating a slow growing season, and this reduces the caffeine content even more.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any more questions.

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Thank you all for your answers! I’m learning all sorts of things this week! :)

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