How Much Caffeine in Tea and Coffee
Caffeine Levels in your Morning Cuppa
Did you know that approximately 60 plants naturally contain caffeine? This includes nuts from the Kola Tree, often used in soft drink products. Also the Theobroma cacao tree, which produces the bean used as a primary ingredient in chocolate.
More famous, however, is caffeine in coffee which is from the Coffea (Coffee) plant. Furthermore, caffeine is also found naturally in Tea, which is from the Camellia Sinensis (Tea) plant.
There has been a vast multitude of scientific studies into caffeine content found in both Tea and Coffee. Likewise, there has also been numerous myths circulating on the internet regarding the exact quantity of Caffeine contained within these two treasured beverages.
Here at the Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, we deliver only the facts, so let’s explore the truth behind caffeine content in both Tea and Coffee, and why there is so much confusion!
What is Caffeine?
Let’s start with the history: Caffeine was first discovered by a German scientist named Friedrich Ferdinand Runge in the 1820’s. The term “Caffeine” derives from a combination of the German word “kaffee” and the French word “café”.
Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in leaves and seeds, notably Tea and Coffee. Once consumed, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, eventually travelling to the liver. There, it is broken down and passed on to numerous other organs in the body, namely the brain.
Its effect on the brain, in particular, is the main reason so many people choose to consume caffeinated products. It functions by blocking adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter capable of relaxing the brain and making one feel tired.
Blocking large quantities of adenosine to the brain has the opposite effect, whereby one feels more energised and less sleepy. It may also increase blood adrenaline levels and even heighten brain activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.
As well as being a naturally occurring stimulant, Caffeine is also artificially created and added to products including diet aids and cold/flu remedies. In the wild, however, Caffeine can act as a natural pesticide in plants, protecting them from harmful insects.
For most of us, Caffeine is a much-needed boost first thing in the morning. It helps us get out of bed and ready for work in no time at all.
Caffeine in Coffee
Most consider Coffee THE drink of choice for getting a substantial caffeine fix; however, this isn’t necessarily the case. Ultimately, it very much depends on one’s perspective.
The quantity of caffeine in Coffee, specifically in dry form, is less than the quantity of caffeine in an equal weight of dry Tea leaves. Nevertheless, as a result of getting more cups of brewed Tea from a unit quantity of Tea leaves than from an equal quantity of ground coffee beans, the caffeine quantity per cup of Tea is less than that of an equal cup of coffee.
Confused? In other words, the caffeine content of Tea is more spread out while the caffeine in Coffee is more concentrated. And once brewed, the average cup of Black Tea, for example, contains approximately 40 milligrams of caffeine, while the average cup of Coffee contains upwards of 105 milligrams!
Caffeine in Tea
Most will already know that there are many Types of Tea. The main kinds are Black Tea, Green Tea, White Tea and Oolong Tea. But do they all contain the same amount of Caffeine? Here, things get confusing once again, so bear with us!
Most Teas contain a similar amount of Caffeine until the hot water reaches the leaf. Yes, that means Green Tea; that means Black Tea; that means White Tea and Oolong Tea - which is contrary to popular belief. This, of course, changes when the brewing begins, but even then, there are a few things worth noting.
Determining how much caffeine is in a brewed cup of Tea depends on several factors. With Green Tea, for example, it may depend on the specific type of Green Tea being brewed, with Matcha Tea containing more caffeine than, say, Sencha Green Tea. It may also depend on the age of the leaves, with more mature leaves tending to have more Caffeine in Green Tea than that of younger leaves.
Another factor to potentially account for is whether one chooses Tea Bags or Loose Leaf Tea, with the former allegedly containing slightly more caffeine than the latter when brewed. This, however, is much disputed.
But let’s now return to simplicity: when brewed, which types of Tea have the most caffeine and which types of Tea have the least caffeine? As already mentioned, brewed Black Tea (“brewed” being the vital word) contains an average of 40 milligrams of caffeine per cup. Next, brewed Oolong Tea contains, on average, 35-37 milligrams per cup.
In third place, brewed ‘standard’ Green Tea (“standard” refers here to regular Green Tea that differs to Matcha or Sencha) contains, on average, 30 milligrams. Finally, brewed White Tea contains almost always the least amount of caffeine with an average of 15 milligrams.
How is Tea and Coffee Decaffeinated?
Decaffeination is the process of removing caffeine from products such as Tea and Coffee. Again, contrary to popular belief, not a single Coffee or Tea is a decaf without the process of decaffeination. And even then, no Decaf Tea or Coffee is 100% decaffeinated.
The best decaf products have had approximately 94-98% of the caffeine removed, with only a small percentage of caffeine remaining. On average, this small percentage is 5-10 milligrams.
Should one wish to have a beverage completely free of Caffeine, then Herbal or Fruit Tea is the way to go. Teas such as Peppermint, Hibiscus, Camomile, Lemongrass, Raspberry Leaf and Ginger contain absolutely no caffeine at all. One exception to this rule is Yerba Mate, which is another example of a plant that contains caffeine.
Some decades after the discovery of caffeine, another German, a Coffee merchant named Ludwig Roselius, conducted the first decaffeination process in 1905. Roselius’ method used benzene, a potentially toxic hydrocarbon, to remove the caffeine from pre-moistened Green Coffee beans. Suffice to say; no one uses this method anymore!
There is not one, but four main ways of decaffeinating Teas and Coffees these days. There is the Methylene chloride process, the Ethyl Acetate process, the Carbon Dioxide process and the Water process. How they work is as follows:
Methylene chloride Processing: This widely used processing method is often subject to much dispute within the worldwide Tea and Coffee industry. This is because the chemical Methylene chloride is directly used as a solvent to extract Caffeine from the raw materials such as Loose Leaf Tea and Coffee. It’s efficient but arguably unsafe, which is why The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company do not use this method. Nevertheless, and despite its controversy, the Methylene chloride process extracts between 96 to 97% of Caffeine content.
Ethyl Acetate Processing: Ethyl Acetate is a natural chemical found in many fruits, one that is often deemed a more ‘organic’ method when applied to the decaffeination of Teas and Coffees. Similar to the Methylene chloride processing method, Ethyl Acetate is also used as a solvent to extract the Caffeine – accounting for between 96 to 97% of the content.
Carbon Dioxide Processing: Often considered the safest of all the processing methods, pressurised liquid Carbon Dioxide is used to extract the small Caffeine molecules found within the Teas and Coffees. Meanwhile, the flavour molecules, which are much larger than the caffeine molecules, remain almost entirely intact, which is one reason why this process is so popular.
Ultimately, the CO2 method removes between 96% and 98% of the caffeine content, which also makes it one of the most efficient methods. Here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, the Co2 method is our favourite!
Water Processing: Also known as the “Swiss water” process, this method is generally associated with the decaffeination of Coffee beans over Tea leaves, although some Tea companies are exploring it as an option. Hot water is used to extract the Caffeine, along with flavours, and almost everything else!
The water is then put through a carbon filter, which retains most of the molecules. When the water is returned to the product, it once again soaks up the extracted flavours. This final method can account for between 94 to 96% of caffeine content.]
Tea or Coffees Caffeine Free?
Technically, none of them. All loose tea, tea bags and coffees must undergo the decaffeination process in order to conform with worldwide standards of what constitutes as a ‘decaf’ beverage.
In fact, it must be stated that even with any decaffeinated beverage, be it tea or coffee there will always be traces content within the chosen product. While these teas and coffees are labelled “decaffeinated” – they are not completely “caffeine free.” On average, approximately 5-10 milligrams of Caffeine will remain in any beverage you decide upon, while around 95-98% will be removed.
If you wish to go without Caffeine entirely, please browse through our wide selection of Herbal Teas, such as our Peppermint Tea, our Chamomile Tea, or even our Rooibos Tea! Alternatively, you may decide upon one of our Fruit Tisanes, including our brand new Red Berry Fruits Pyramid Tea Bags, or our Apple Crumble Fruit Tisane!
Types of Tea and Caffeine
Any tea originating from the Camellia Sinensis plant will contain Caffeine, even White Teas, which contain between 15 to 39 milligrams per cup. Whether you choose Black, White, Yellow, Pu erh or Oolong; every single tea has traces of Caffeine. In recent years many people have been drinking Green Tea for its well publicised health benefits, we are often asked, "does green tea have caffeine" the answer is "yes"
All of these Types of Tea have a surprisingly similar amount of Caffeine, but when a tea is steeped for five or more minutes in boiling water, it will likely transfer a far larger quantity of Caffeine per cup. If you steep your tea whichever type you decide upon for an estimated two minutes, you are less likely to obtain as much of the Caffeine content.
What has More Caffeine Tea or Coffee?
Believe it or not – it depends on your perspective! The quantity of caffeine in coffee - specifically in dry form - is less than the quantity of caffeine in an equal weight of tea leaves.
However, as a result of getting more cups of tea from a unit quantity of black tea than from an equal quantity of ground coffee beans - when brewed. The quantity per cup of tea is less than that of an equal cup of coffee.
On this basis, the average cup of black tea contains approximately 40 milligrams, while an average cup of instant coffee will likely contain upwards of 105 milligrams! So, do not be fooled by sensationalist reporting from many media outlets – they do not give you all of the fact, we do!
Is Consuming Caffeine in Tea and Coffee Safe?
While more and more people are choosing to go down the decaf path, it doesn’t necessarily mean that caffeine in Tea and Coffee is unsafe. In fact, there have been an increasing amount of scientific studies suggesting that caffeine intake could come with health benefits!
One Japanese study considered the possibility that caffeine increased memory. Furthermore, a recent study out of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. This showed that a 200mg caffeine pill helped boost memory consolidation. Could caffeine one day help those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? Nothing is known for sure at this point, but it looks likely.
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that some consumers, particularly those who’re caffeine sensitive, may experience side effects. Such as jitteriness, restlessness or insomnia. Furthermore, caffeine in Tea and Coffee can be dehydrating.
Overconsumption of caffeine is also a possibility. This can lead to anxiety, digestive issues, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, caffeine addiction and even, ironically, fatigue. For these reasons, one should be sure to monitor your caffeine intake every day. Here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, we recommend a medical consultation should you have any concerns.
Those who’re pregnant, in particular, should exercise caution when consuming Teas and Coffees that contain standard quantities of caffeine. NHS Choices recommends that one limits caffeine intake to no more than 200 milligrams per day, which is the equivalent to two cups of Coffee.
Should one exceed the recommended limit, this does not necessarily mean that one is being unsafe; rather that one should, perhaps, not make a habit of exceeding the recommended limit on a daily basis. Any concerns should always be taken up with a midwife, doctor or another healthcare professional.
Caffeine withdrawal symptoms are often experienced by those who consume large quantities of caffeine on a frequent basis. If the body becomes caffeine dependent, then eliminating it from one’s diet can cause these withdrawal symptoms. Typically arise after 12-24 hours of not consuming the substance.
Headaches are among the most common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. This occurs because caffeine consumption causes blood vessels to narrow, so when it is not present in the system. The blood vessels again open up while increasing blood flow to the brain. The sudden change in blood flow can cause these often uncomfortable headaches. It can vary in length and severity as the brain adapts to the increase in blood.
Paradoxically, other symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include many of those associated with caffeine overconsumption, such as fatigue and anxiety. Additionally, some may experience difficulty concentrating, irritability and low energy.
Decaffeinated Tea and Coffee Online
Going Decaf can avoid many of the above side effects with perseverance, we will help you along on your journey.
Here are just a few examples of Decaffeinated Tea and Coffees that we stock, with many more waiting to be discovered online or instore:
Using only the finest quality Central American medium-roasted Coffee beans, our Decaffeinated Coffee showcases the best of the best in every sense of the term.
We use the CO2 process to decaffeinate this Coffee, which we already know is the safest and most efficient method. We roast this Coffee, as well as other Coffee we stock, using the latest state-of-the-art Neuhaus Neotec fluidised air-bed system. This which primarily uses convection heat transfer to roast the beans.
Central American Coffee beans used in the making of this brew offer refined and full-bodied flavours with every sip. What more could one possibly want from their morning cuppa?
Decaffeinated Water Processed Coffee
Prefer to keep things a little more natural? If so, then our Decaffeinated Water Processed Coffee is undoubtedly the choice for you. Like our classic Decaffeinated Coffee, this beverage uses Central American beans. Unlike our Decaffeinated Coffee, however, our Decaffeinated Water Processed Coffee, as the name suggests, uses the water process for decaffeination.
When brewed, this delicious Coffee boasts a full flavour with sweet undertones. With the novelty of its unique taste never wearing off.
Decaffeinated English Breakfast Tea
It is a very common and most unfortunate misconception that any Tea that has undergone decaffeination is weak and tasteless. This simply isn’t true; in fact, our Decaffeinated English Breakfast Tea is bursting with scrumptiously malty goodness with every sip.
Better still, this brew, which has been decaffeinated using the CO2 method, uses only the highest quality Assam Tea leaves. For those who love a strong, hearty cup of Tea but likewise wish to cut down on their caffeine intake. Our Decaffeinated English Breakfast Tea is an exceptional choice.
Decaffeinated Green Tea
Again, this Tea, like Decaffeinated English Breakfast Tea, uses the CO2 decaffeination method. With this brew, however, one is also able to reap Green Tea benefits. According to the latest scientific research, Green Tea - either “regular” or decaf - can boost the metabolism. This enables the body to burn fat quicker and more efficiently.
Also it can improve cardiovascular health by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol; and even reduce the risks of developing type-2 diabetes by balancing blood sugar levels.
When it comes to taste, our Decaffeinated Green Tea is a smooth, grassy infusion with delicate and fresh notes combined perfectly with surprisingly sweet undertones.
Earl Grey Decaffeinated Tea
When it comes to outstanding flavour, nothing is quite like our Earl Grey Decaffeinated Tea. We would gladly rate it with all of our other Earl Grey Teas in terms of quality and consistency.
A combination of defined malty notes and fruity, slightly floral undertones from the bergamot make this a much-treasured Tea. It offers everything one would expect from an Earl Grey Tea and, referring, in particular, to its decaffeination. Want to add a little flavour to your life without the extra caffeine? Choose Earl Grey Decaffeinated Tea. It’s as simple as that.
The choice between “regular” and decaf is very much a personal one. We cannot help you with the decision making, but we can offer you the best of both worlds. Every product we stock, whether it is decaf or not, has our guarantee of quality each time you buy.
All of our Teas, all of our Decaffeinated Coffees, and all of our Tisanes are packed fresh to order here in our Kent-based factory, which is nestled within the stunning vistas of the beautiful south-eastern English countryside.