Your Tea Guide: Caffeine Content For Every Type of Tea
There are many reasons to drink tea, from taste enjoyment to a variety of health benefits. Many people often make the switch from coffee to tea because they want to reduce their caffeine intake. But all teas are not created equal and some tea varieties actually contain a good amount of caffeine per cup. Although most types of tea come from the same plant, the camellia sinensis, each type of tea has a different caffeine content. Read on for a complete guide to the various kinds of tea.
What is Caffeine?
Put simply, caffeine is a chemical. In the scientific community, it's known as trimethylxanthine. If you were to distil caffeine into a pure form, it would look like a white powder resembling granulated sugar. It is created naturally in plants such as the coffee bean, the cocoa bean and the tea leaf.
How Does Caffeine Affect Your Body?
Most people consume caffeine to stay awake and alert, others use caffeine to improve their mood or ease the pain of a migraine. In fact, some common pain and allergy relievers include caffeine in their ingredient lists. The chemical affects the brain by actually preventing it from signaling the feeling of tiredness to the body. It also increases heart rate and body temperature. While caffeine can make you feel more energized, it cannot actually replenish your body's energy levels.
Types of Tea and Their Caffeine Content
When you visit your local tea vendor, you might be surprised by the sheer variety of choices. However, each flavor of tea does not necessarily correspond to a different form of tea leaf. Earl Gray and Chai are both black tea, for example. The former is made with oil of bergamot and the latter gets its unique flavor from a combination of up to eight different Indian spices. The type of tea leaf - and the caffeine content - are therefore the same. In general, there are five different types of tea. Each type of tea should be steeped differently to extract the best flavor possible. Each one needs to be treated slightly differently to get the best flavor. That's why the Mr. Coffee® Hot Tea Maker is designed with specific temperature settings, so every cup is steeped with precision, to make each type of tea taste just right.
Green tea is one of the more common varieties of the beverage. It is usually processed using heat - either roasting, frying or steaming. It comes from China, and is quite popular in a number of Asian tea ceremonies. An eight ounce cup of green tea can contain between 24 and 45 milligrams of caffeine.
White tea leaves are plucked from the plant only a few days after they first appear. These are left to dry and therefore require very little processing. The popularity of this type of tea has grown in recent years, partly due to its low caffeine content and partly for its light, aromatic flavor. An eight ounce cup of white tea contains between 20 and 30 milligrams of caffeine.
Black tea is very popular in the West because it has a bold flavor and a higher caffeine content, though it still doesn't come very close to coffee. Black tea is typically allowed to wither and dry before being rolled or crushed - it's then kept in a temperature controlled environment so that it can fully oxidize, which gives it a stronger flavor. One eight ounce cup of black tea has about 70 milligrams of caffeine.
Although most similar to black tea, oolong tea has its own unique flavor profile. This comes from a shorter oxidation process as well as a longer maturation period. An eight ounce cup of oolong tea can have up to 50 milligrams of caffeine. Oolong tea is meant to be steeped several times, so each subsequent cup would have a diminishing amount of caffeine.
Herbal tea is a hard category to pin down, because it could include hundreds if not thousands of different plants. The main difference between herbal tea and the ones discussed above, is that herbal teas do not come from the camellia sinensis plant. In general, herbal teas contain no caffeine, though it's possible that some have other kinds of stimulant properties.