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Last Updated on September 22, 2022 by Scott
Drinking tea can help keep you awake and alert throughout your day. However, some people avoid tea completely due to the caffeine it contains. Some teas have less caffeine content than others. Instead of avoiding tea altogether, opt for one that’s low in caffeine so you don’t have to give it up entirely. For example, mint teas are a great choice with these considerations in mind.
What Tea Has the Lowest Caffeine Content?
Actually knowing how much caffeine is in your tea will help you decide which one is right for you. This is especially good for people who are trying to cut back on their caffeine intake, or might think that caffeine levels can impact such ailments as headaches.
If you consider herbal tea as a true kind of tea then it would be deemed as having the lowest caffeine content. Herbal tea grows naturally without containing any caffeine.
Real types of tea such as black, oolong, green, and white tea, only come from the Camellia sinensis plant. This plant naturally contains caffeine. Due to oxidation, the tea that comes from this plant can have more or less caffeine content.
How long you steep your tea and how the plant grows also contributes to the caffeine content of each tea. Read from the list below to find out the caffeine level of each tea.
Levels of Caffeine in Different Types of Tea
|TYPE OF TEA||CAFFEINE LEVELS|
|Black Tea||40 to 90 milligrams of caffeine per cup|
|Oolong Tea||50 to 75 milligrams of caffeine per cup|
|Green Tea||12 to 70 milligrams of caffeine per cup|
|White Tea||6 to 55 milligrams of caffeine per cup|
|Decaffeinated teas||2 to 20 milligrams of caffeine per cup|
According to the list above, the tea that naturally contains the lowest amount of caffeine would be white tea. Decaf is a tea that has been processed through different methods to extract most of the caffeine amount. There are usually small traces of caffeine left over.
What Methods Affect Caffeine Content in Tea?
There are a few things that increase the amount of caffeine in tea. This includes brewing methods, oxidation, tea grades, and the way the plant is grown.
Oxidation gives the tea leaves a stronger taste and scent. It also increases the caffeine level. Oxidation occurs during the rolling of the tea leaves. Rolling the leaves creates tears through which the plant absorbs oxygen.
Most teas experience oxidation on the market and can provide a stronger flavor to tea leaves. More oxidation produces a higher quantity of caffeine.
Brewing or steeping your tea longer than needed can create a higher amount of caffeine. Brewing tea longer than necessary will probably get more flavor out of the leaves. Just like the flavor, a longer brewing process will release more caffeine into the water.
When it comes to how long you should brew your tea, it doesn’t matter which tea you’re drinking, the longer the brewing process, the more caffeine per cup. For example, brewing a white tea that’s hotter and longer than a green tea will have more caffeine in it.
How hot the water is when you’re brewing the tea is also is a factor in the amount of caffeine in the tea. Hotter water will allow the tea leaves to extract more caffeine into your cup.
Tea grades are a percentage of how well preserved a tea leaf is. This depends on how well the condition of a leaf is. Some are broken, some are whole, and some are completely turned into powder.
Whole leaves will absorb less caffeine when brewed as opposed to broken leaves. Broken leaves and powdered tea will release more caffeine than whole leaves.
Powdered tea is very high in caffeine levels. This is because you are mixing the complete leaf into your tea and drinking the whole cup. You cannot use a strainer with powdered tea therefore, you consume the whole caffeine content that’s contained in the tea leaves.
Tea Plants Grown in the Shade
Tea plants that are grown in the shade have an increased amount of caffeine. Farmers will purposely cover the plant from the sun to shift the chemicals in the plant which causes it to produce higher than usual amounts of caffeine.
What Can I Do to Decrease The Caffeine Content in Tea?
If you want a cup of tea with lower amounts of caffeine, decaffeinated tea is something to think about. Although, a better option would be to blend your tea leaves with herbs of your choice. Blending regular and herbal tea will give you lower caffeine content and more varieties of flavor.
To make a tea blend, just replace half the amount of your regular tea with herbal teas such as mint, peppermint or spearmint. These herbal flavors add a very fresh taste without overpowering the main flavor of your tea. Doing this will cut your caffeine content in half per 8 ounces cup.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is tea a good alternative to coffee for caffeine?
A. Yes, tea is a great alternative to coffee for caffeine. In addition to the caffeine levels listed above, many types of tea have health benefits as well. True teas all originate from the Camellia sinensis plant, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids.
Q. Does the harvest season impact the levels of caffeine in tea?
A. While not significant, teas that are harvested in the Spring typically tend to have higher caffeine levels, compared to teas harvested later in the calendar year (this is particularly true for such varieties as silver tip / silver needle teas).
Q. Do Pu-erh teas have high levels of caffeine?
A. Pu-erh teas generally have a moderate level of caffeine, and are very similar to black teas when it comes to teh amount of caffeine (see chart above for reference).
Keep in mind that herbal teas are completely free from caffeine. If you’re looking for a tea that has a low amount of caffeine, drink lightly oxidized, regular teas and brew them for a short time. This will decrease the caffeine content and allow you to keep drinking the tea you want.
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.