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Black and green tea are among the most common types of tea. Whether you’re a tea aficionado or a newcomer, knowing the amount of caffeine in black tea vs. green tea can help you make better decisions when it comes to avoiding caffeinated drinks or not.
Caffeine in Black Tea vs. Green Tea: General Overview
After water, tea serves as the second most popular beverage in the world, mainly because of its high caffeine content. Whether you want an energy boost to power through the day or improve your mood, black and green teas can provide enough caffeine for you to gain such benefits.
Caffeine in Black Tea
Black tea leaves primarily grow in Asian countries, including China, India, Vietnam, and Nepal. The leaves predominantly come from the Camellia Sinensis Assamica varietal, which has a higher caffeine level.
Data shows that 65.8% of the tea consumed in America is black tea, making it the most popular type of tea in the country, particularly because of its caffeine content. Loose black tea leaves contain 22 to 28 milligrams of caffeine per gram, creating a moderate caffeine level.
Caffeine in Green Tea
Green tea leaves also grow in Asian countries, although mostly in China and Japan. The leaves come from the Sinensis varietal, which has a lower caffeine content than Assamica.
Loose green tea leaves only produce 10 to 20 milligrams of caffeine for every gram. Despite that, the global green tea market expects a 6% growth rate by 2026. This is partly due to the worldwide population’s health concerns and the health benefits of regular tea consumption.
Caffeine in Black Tea vs. Green Tea
Caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical found in some beans, leaves, and fruits. While black and green teas have similarities in the source of caffeine, they still differ in a number of aspects.
Similarities Between Caffeine in Black Tea and Green Tea
Most tea leaves come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis. This tea plant has two main varietals: Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis and Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica. All tea leaves, including black and green tea that come from Camellia Sinensis, contain caffeine.
The Camellia Sinensis plant extract is rich in caffeine, catechins, and L-theanine. Catechins prevent cell damage, caffeine works as a stimulant drug, and L-theanine encourages calm and relaxation. Together, these compounds from green and black teas are beneficial to improving a person’s health.
However, note that it typically takes 4-6 hours for the body to metabolize half of what you consume, which is why caffeine can keep you awake and alert.
Differences Between Caffeine in Black Tea and Green Tea
The main difference between the caffeine in black and green teas is that black has a higher caffeine level, while green tea contains about half as much caffeine as black tea. However, the differences depend on some factors, including the growing phase, harvesting processes, and brewing methods.
Growing, Harvesting, and Processing
Black and green tea leaves almost share the same growing, harvesting, and processing methods. However, the slight differences impact the way the leaves retain caffeine.
- Growing practices: Black and green tea leaves undergo shade-grown cultivation, which dramatically increases the caffeine level.
- Harvesting and processing: Since black tea leaves are oxidized, they have more caffeine than green tea leaves. Green tea leaves are generally steamed to stop the oxidation process, which reduces caffeine levels.
The United States Food and Drug Administration states that 400 milligrams of caffeine per day are safe for most healthy adults. This translates to approximately 4 cups of brewed coffee or 2 energy shot drinks.
However, the way you brew tea leaves can also affect how much caffeine you consume.
- Amount of tea leaves: The higher ratio of tea leaves than water would produce more caffeine in a cup of tea. Even if you’re using green tea leaves, adding more leaves than the recommended amount would make its caffeine level par with black tea.
- Steep time: Black tea tends to have more caffeine than green tea because it has a longer infusion time. It’s recommendable to steep black tea leaves for around 3-5 minutes, while green tea leaves only need 1-2 minutes.
- Water temperature: Using the correct water temperature plays a key role in every brew’s taste, appearance, and amount of caffeine. Recommended water temperature for black teas ranges from 208 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, while green tea should only have 170 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.
Appearance and Taste
About 90% of Americans consume caffeine every day in one form or another, with more than half of American adults consuming more than 300 milligrams per day. Taste and appearance play a role in that popularity.
The higher caffeine content from black tea leaves brews a fuller-bodied flavor, often with notes of honey, malt, and spices. This also produces a richer, sometimes reddish-copper color (depending on the tea).
On the other hand, green teas have a lighter and more delicate taste. The colors are also mellower yet show a rich, mossy green hue (with various color varieties, depending on the tea).
Major Distinguishing Factor
Black tea has higher caffeine levels than green tea. It contains 47 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce cup, whereas green tea has 28 milligrams per 8 ounces. Black tea contains higher caffeine content because of its oxidized process, while green tea has reduced caffeine due to a steaming process. Another common question is whether or not herbal tea has caffeine, or is the same as green tea.
When to Drink Black Tea
It’s better to drink black tea if you want to consume a high amount of caffeine, yet half of the caffeine levels of coffee. You can also benefit from the caffeine content of black tea if you want to increase metabolic rate and fat burning to achieve weight loss goals.
When to Drink Green Tea
It’s ideal to use green tea leaves if you want to drink up to 4 cups of tea per day, yet you want to limit the caffeine intake. Green tea is safer to drink if you tend to experience irregular heartbeat, restlessness, or insomnia.
Black tea contains more caffeine than green tea. However, the growing, harvesting, processing, and brewing methods may influence the amount of caffeine per cup. Nevertheless, both black and green teas contain safe levels of caffeine to give you several health benefits.
Scott is the founder of TeaMinded. He enjoys tasting and discovering teas from across the globe, with green teas and ceremonial matcha from Japan being among his favorites. He’s grateful to be immersed in the tea community, always learning and sharing along the journey.