Myths & Facts About Tea & Caffeine
Which has the higher level of caffeine?
- Coffee or Tea
- Indian tea or Chinese tea
- Black tea or Green tea
There are many opinions, and good facts are harder to find. Scientific studies can be less than detailed about what products were used so this can add to the confusion.
A well detailed and easy to read study published by the British government in 2004 concluded that:
- All Teas – mean 40 mg per serving
- Instant Coffee – mean 54 mg per serving
- Ground Coffee – mean 105 mg per serving
For those who are sensitive to caffeine, there are ways to reduce the caffeine levels of any tea. The traditional Chinese method of tea-making called Gong Fu Cha (Tea with Great Skill) makes tea in small amounts with many brews to concentrate the taste and minimize the caffeine. The first step of Gong Fu Cha is to rinse the leaves. Caffeine is water soluble and this first step washes away a significant amount of caffeine but keeps the taste.
Here is a quick guideline:
- All coffees are higher in caffeine than all teas
- All Indian teas are higher in caffeine than all Chinese teas
- Chinese green teas are higher than all other Chinese teas.
The camellia sinensis var. assamica tea plant that is used in India is a heartier and more robust species than the variety used in China. It produces stronger flavours, a higher yield of tea leaves per plant, and the leaves have naturally higher levels of caffeine.
Of all teas, green teas have the highest caffeine levels followed by Oolongs and then Black tea. This comes as a surprise to many people because green tea does not taste as strong as Oolong and Black Tea. Green teas (along with Yellow and White Teas) have a subtle taste but use the least amount of processing to produce the tea, so most of the natural caffeine from the plant is still intact in the leaves. The process used to manufacture Oolong and Black teas removes more of the caffeine.
One of the strongest tasting Chinese teas is Pu-erh tea which has some of the lowest caffeine levels due the processing methods used and the fact that they are aged and the caffeine breaks down over time.