How Much Caffeine in Tea and Coffee
Caffeine Levels in your Morning Cuppa
Did you know that an estimated 60 plants naturally contain caffeine? This includes nuts from the Kola tree - famously used to create soft drinks. There is also, of course, the Theobroma cacao tree, which produces the beans utilised in chocolate-making.
Most noteworthy, however, is caffeine in Coffee - the product of the Coffea plant. A close second is that of caffeine in Tea, which comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. This blog will focus, in particular, on the facts, figures, history and health benefits of caffeine in Tea and Coffee.
What is Caffeine?
People have known about Tea for some 5,000 years. Coffee, meanwhile, has played a role in human history for at least a few hundred years. Despite this, knowledge about caffeine in Tea and Coffee only dates back to the 19th century.
It was a German scientist named Friedrich Ferdinand Runge who discovered caffeine in the 1820s. The term itself is a combination of the German word for “kaffee” and the French word “café”. But what, exactly is it - and how does it work?
Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in leaves and seeds. Once consumed, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream before 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 primary reason why so many people consume caffeinated products. This is because it blocks adenosine, a neurotransmitter that relaxes the mind. In essence, by blocking large quantities of adenosine, caffeine has the opposite effect. It stimulates while making you feel more energised and less sleepy.
Additionally, caffeine can increase blood adrenaline levels and even heighten brain activity of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Most will know already that dopamine running through the system plays a significant role in, well, feeling good!
In the wild, caffeine works in an entirely different way. Instead of acting as a stimulant, it becomes a natural pesticide in plants, thus protecting them against harmful insects. It is also artificially created and added to products such as diet aids and cold/flu remedies.
For most of us, caffeine in Tea and Coffee offers a much-needed boost first thing in the morning. In other words, it’s the motivation to get out of bed and start the day the right way!
Caffeine in Coffee
Many people consider Coffee THE brew of choice for getting a substantial caffeine fix. However, the word “brew” is the essential term to use. Confused? Allow us to explain.
The quantity of caffeine in Coffee, specifically in dry form, is less than that in an equal weight of Tea. This means that, before brewing, there is, technically speaking, more caffeine in Tea than there is in Coffee. As baffling as it might sound, it’s true. However, this ultimately changes due to how many cups of Tea or Coffee you can get from a unit quantity.
Still confused? That’s okay. Basically, you can get more cuppas from a unit quantity of Tea leaves than from an equal quantity of Coffee. This means that caffeine content in Tea ‘spreads out’ while the caffeine in Coffee is more concentrated.
Regardless of the complicated ins and outs, Coffee is, undoubtedly, the most popular caffeinated drink around. We have approximately 70 types of Coffee worth trying and, indeed, enjoying! Many of these contain significant amounts of this stimulating chemical compound (but not all of them!).
Caffeine in Tea
The word “Tea” has, in recent years, become somewhat of an umbrella term encompassing a wide range of infusions. The likes of Peppermint, Camomile and Hibiscus, for example, have all gone by this name. However, it’s important to note that almost all of these beverages are NOT “Teas” in the conventional sense. Only those that have come from the Camellia sinensis plant meet the ‘requirements’.
The four primary Types of Tea to originate from this plant are Black, Green, White and Oolong Tea. But what makes one different from another? It’s all about the processing of the leaf. In a nutshell, White Tea is the least processed kind, followed by Green, then Oolong, then Black. Each one has something unique to offer - which includes Tea caffeine content levels!
Contrary to popular belief, most Teas contain a similar amount of caffeine until the water reaches the leaf. Most will know, however, that Black Tea caffeine is ultimately more significant than Green Tea caffeine. So what changes? A study conducted at the University of Florida suggests that it’s all about the time you take brewing a cuppa.
Researchers discovered that one-minute brew times yielded 14 milligrams of caffeine for Black Tea and 12 milligrams for Green Tea. Many would agree that this is a minimal difference in terms of caffeine levels. However, a three-minute brewing time saw the former beverage yield 27 milligrams and the latter 22 milligrams. And so the gap widens.
Finally, the study concluded that a five-minute brewing time (which isn’t recommended for Green Tea!) had the biggest difference. Here, the results determined that Black Tea contained 61 milligrams while Green Tea had no more than 41 milligrams. So, in other words, be sure to brew for longer if you’re looking for an extra caffeinated kick!
Caffeine Content in Tea and Coffee
But what does this all mean? We’ve learnt that brewing matters, and that before this takes place, Tea has more caffeine than Coffee. However, unless you’re a scientist, this is all of little consequence to your daily life. The question begs: how much caffeine in Coffee and Tea is there... ultimately?
Below is a table showing the average caffeine levels in your morning cuppa. To the left, you’ll find information on Coffee caffeine content, while to the right you’ll see the same about Tea.
Amount of Caffeine in Tea and Coffee
|Filter Coffee (8 oz cup)||95-200 mg||Black Tea||40 mg|
|Latte (8 oz cup)||75 mg||Oolong Tea||35-37 mg|
|Cappuccino (8 oz cup)||75-180 mg||Green Tea||30 mg|
|Flat White (8 oz cup)||75-150 mg||White Tea||15 mg|
When it comes to Tea, in particular, there are a couple of more variables to think about. Matcha Tea, for example, contains more caffeine than so-called ‘regular’ Green. This is because Matcha uses the entire leaf while its ‘regular’ counterpart only uses parts. Furthermore, unlike humans, age matters. As a rule of thumb, the older the leaf, the more caffeine.
In the world of Coffee, meanwhile, caffeine levels can also vary significantly depending on a couple of factors. Nevertheless, the type of Coffee bean used (i.e. Arabica or Robusta) is, undoubtedly, the most influential aspect to consider. This is due to the fact that Arabica (despite being more popular) has 1.5% less caffeine than Robusta.
What about Coffee roasts? Contrary to popular belief, this has less of an impact on Coffee caffeine content than many might think. Some say that lighter roasts contain more caffeine than darker roasts. This might be true on occasions, but its effect is minimal at best.
How is Tea and Coffee Decaffeinated?
It’s fair to say that caffeine has the admiration of early-morning office workers and late-night waiters everywhere. Without it, some might struggle to function day after day after day. Yet not everyone likes the feeling of caffeine effects.
Others might even want to steer clear of it due to medical conditions. Enter Decaf Tea and Coffee - beverages that have, as their names suggest, undergone decaffeination.
Decaffeination is the process of removing caffeine from products such as soft drinks, chocolate and, of course, Tea and Coffee. Before this takes place, EVERY beverage to contain one of these ingredients has caffeine within it.
In fact, contrary to popular belief, even DECAF products contain a trace amount of this stimulant. In other words, NO caffeine-filled product can be 100% decaffeinated.
Depending on the efficiency of the decaffeination process, products can have about 94-98% of caffeine removed. Indeed, the best options will have no more than 5-10 milligrams remaining. This, in the whole scheme of things, is very little!
Process used for Decaffeination
A few decades after the discovery of caffeine, Ludwig Roselius, another German, found a way to remove it from products. By using benzene, a potentially toxic hydrocarbon, Roselius was able to extract caffeine molecules from pre-moistened green Coffee beans.
The good news is that, since 1905, the industry has experimented with other, safer methods of decaffeination. Although not all of them are perfect, they’re certainly better than using dangerous hydrocarbons! Below are the four primary methods considered the best:
Methylene chloride Process
This, unfortunately, is one of the most widespread means of decaffeination. It uses the chemical methylene chloride as a solvent to extract the caffeine from raw materials, including Tea and Coffee.
Although efficient, this method is, nowadays, considered unsafe. Indeed, while it can remove 96-97% of the caffeine, it also comes with severe health warnings. You’ll be pleased to know, then, that The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company steer well clear of it!
Ethyl Acetate Process
This is a chemical found naturally in many fruits which, similar to methylene chloride, can be used as a solvent. However, despite its so-called ‘organic’ name tag, Ethyl Acetate (again much like methylene chloride) can cause health complications.
This process nevertheless removes 96-97% of caffeine content. That said, with the welfare of our customers in mind, we as a company avoid this method, too.
Carbon Dioxide Process
Here, we’re heading into much, much safer territory. In fact, the CO2 process is, according to research, the safest AND most efficient method of decaffeination. It works by using pressurised liquid carbon dioxide to extract the small caffeine molecules.
So, what makes it different from the rest? Why, exactly, is it safe and efficient? Well, put simply, it’s safe because it avoids the use of solvents and instead opts for natural CO2.
Meanwhile, efficiency comes into the equation due to the fact that it leaves the larger flavour molecules almost entirely intact. Basically, low caffeine levels (the removal of 96-98%, to be specific!) and great taste are all but guaranteed.
Just for the record, this term doesn’t refer to water specifically from Switzerland. Rather, it’s a process first invented in this country! What it does is use hot water to extract both the flavour and caffeine molecules.
These molecules then pass through a carbon filter, resulting in the larger flavour molecules being retained. Finally, the water is returned to the Coffee, thus enabling the beans to once again soak up their flavour. This ultimately brings about the removal of 94-96% of the caffeine content.
Does Caffeine Free Tea or Coffee Exist?
Is there such a thing as an entirely caffeine free Tea or Coffee? Yes and no. As mentioned previously, there is no method of decaffeination that can remove 100% of all caffeine content. Likewise, no ‘real’ type of Coffee or Tea is devoid of the substance.
So where does the “yes” come into the equation? With Herbal Tea and Fruit Tisanes, of course! Despite not technically being “Teas”, these beverages still have much to offer.
Does that mean that all Herbal and Fruit Tisanes are caffeine-free? Not quite. There is, indeed, one noteworthy exception to this rule: Yerba Mate. This Tea (pronounced “Yer-bah-mah-tay”) is the product of a plant (Ilex Paraguariensis) that grows predominantly in the South American rainforest.
It belongs to the Holy family, standing at 6-8 metres tall while producing evergreen leaves, small berries and greenish-white flowers. Many say that it combines the energy boost of Coffee, the benefits of Tea and the endorphin buzz of chocolate. This is in part due to its brewed leaves containing around 85 mg of caffeine per 8 oz cup. (That’s the equivalent of roughly two cups of regular Black Tea).
Daily Recommended Caffeine Intake
How much is too much caffeine? This very much depends on the individual and their circumstances. Evidence indicates that consuming up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily is safe for most healthy adults. This is about four cups of brewed filtered Coffee or ten cups of Black Tea.
It’s vital to note the words “healthy” and “adult” in this daily caffeine intake recommendation as it has far-reaching consequences. For example, those who’re caffeine sensitive, although not exactly ‘unhealthy’, might want to limit their intake.
The same applies to children and adolescents. Furthermore, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should reduce their caffeine consumption (more on this later).
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!
How Long Does Caffeine Last in Your System?
Similar to the food we eat, caffeine in Tea and Coffee must metabolise in our system. This chemical compound makes light work of passing through epithelial tissue, meaning it reaches the bloodstream in no time at all.
Following this, absorption takes about 45 minutes, with its effects lasting anywhere from four to six hours.
Here we have yet another example of variables, however. This refers to the fact that not everyone metabolises caffeine at the same rate. Age, medical conditions and drug interactions can all have an influence on how long it takes to feel caffeine effects.
Is caffeine bad for you? On the contrary, preliminary evidence has indicated that there might be health benefits to consuming it! This is perhaps most interesting because, only a few years ago, The World Health Organisation (WHO) considered it a carcinogen. Now, however, WHO suggests that it’s quite the opposite. In fact, research shows that caffeine may reduce the risk of liver cancer by up to 40%.
But that’s not all. One study out of John Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, showed that a 200mg caffeine pill helped boost memory consolidation. There is even the possibility that some day, caffeine could help those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Additionally, there is the potential that caffeine can reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. This is according to several massive studies of more than 30,000 participants. If proven outright, many lives could change for the better in part thanks to caffeine in Tea and Coffee.
Caffeine Weight Loss
There is, of course, no fix-all solution to maintaining a healthy weight. However, caffeine in Coffee and Tea might help. This is according to research out of Germany, which established that 2-4 cups of Coffee daily could support weight loss.
Another study noted that caffeine stimulates brown fat cells, thus causing them to burn more calories. This increases overall metabolic rate.
Caffeine can support periods of exercise, too. Indeed, evidence published in the Journal of Applied Physiology looks particularly promising. Scientists instructed participant athletes to split themselves into two groups. The first group consumed both caffeine and carbs after strenuous exercise, while the second group ingested only carbs.
The results determined that the first group had 66% more glycogen in their muscles than the second group post-workout. But why, exactly, is this so significant? Glycogen is the fuel used by muscles to function. As such, increasing glycogen levels after a hard workout helps athletes to recover faster and perform better next time around.
Caffeine for Hair Health
We often experience many problems while getting older. Sadly, it’s a fact of life. But what if we can slow it down - if only a little bit? Enter caffeine for hair health!
Caffeine shampoo has become a particularly popular product in recent years. This, it seems, is with good reason, with studies suggesting that it can help balding men and women regrow hair.
Arguably most noteworthy is research published in the International Journal of Dermatology. It saw experts take biopsies from the scalps of 14 men in the early stages of hair loss.
These hair follicles were then exposed to solutions containing different levels of caffeine. At the same time, some follicles had Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) introduced to them, the hormone responsible for hair loss. After eight days, all hair follicles, including those exposed to DHT, showed growth.
Caffeine and Eye Health
There are a couple of ways that caffeine in Coffee might help with eye health. First off, it could reduce the risk of involuntary eye spasm - also known as primary late onset blepharospasm. This is according to evidence provided by BMJ Specialty Journals, suggesting that two cuppas daily is all you need!
Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, caffeine may prove useful in the prevention of cataract formation. Although treatable through surgery, a new study conducted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine may prove this unnecessary. (That said, please note that The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company do NOT endorse it per se!).
Scientists used two groups of rats fed on a diet high in galactose. This is a type of monosaccharide sugar that can lead to cataracts forming in the eyes.
Following this, one group of rats received eye drops containing caffeine, while the other group had a placebo. Ultimately, the animals given caffeine had significantly reduced cataract formation compared to the placebo group
Caffeine for Blood Pressure?
If you experience low blood pressure, there is an argument that caffeine might be of some benefit. However, it’s equally fair to say that this is far from the consensus. In fact, most doctors advise against vast quantities of caffeinated beverages before having your blood pressure checked. This is based on the notion that caffeine raises blood pressure and thus interferes with accurate measurements.
Is that the entire truth, though? A group of scientists in Switzerland and the United States think not! They asked 15 volunteers, none of whom had high blood pressure, to drink a triple espresso.
Before and after this happened, the researchers monitored the blood pressure, heart rate and sympathetic nervous system of each participant. It turns out that a triple espresso causes quite a jolt, but does not necessarily influence blood pressure readings.
It’s essential to note, however, that this is but one study against a mass of evidence on the contrary. For this reason, we strongly urge you to seek medical consultation before consuming caffeine while experiencing high blood pressure.
Caffeine Side Effects
The potential of experiencing high blood pressure isn’t the only possible side effect of caffeine. Most famously, overconsumption can lead to jitteriness and sleeplessness. This is most common in those who’re considered particularly sensitive to the Effects of Caffeine.
Unfortunately, this stimulant might have a negative impact on your health in a few other ways, too. It can, among other caffeine effects, bring about anxiety, digestive issues, rapid heart rate, addiction and even, ironically, fatigue. For these reasons, it’s vital to monitor your caffeine intake every day.
Indeed, benefits and side effects alike should be talked about with your doctor or health professional. After all, they will, undoubtedly, know best.
Caffeine is, technically speaking, a drug. As such, excessive use of it can lead to caffeine addiction. This, in turn, can cause several symptoms associated with stimulation of the brain and nervous system. The most common such effects are:
- Poor sleeping patterns
- Muscle twitching
- Disrupted flow of thoughts and speech
- Flushed face
- Increased heart rate
- Digestive complaints
- Excessive urination
Those who give up ‘cold turkey’ might also suffer from caffeine withdrawal symptoms. This, of course, happens due to caffeine addiction. Typically, these withdrawal symptoms, most notably headaches, arises after 12-24 hours of not consuming the substance.
Can you have a caffeine overdose? Yes. In fact, in the worst (though rarest) cases, it can even be life-threatening. As mentioned previously, evidence indicates that consuming up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily is safe for most healthy adults. Adolescents, meanwhile, should have no more than 100 mg.
In both of these examples, any more than the daily recommended amount increases the risk of experiencing a caffeine overdose. This can lead to major health problems such as irregular heartbeat and seizures. Others symptoms include:
- Excessive thirst
- Hormone imbalances
If you believe you’re experiencing a caffeine overdose, it’s vital that you go to the hospital immediately. There, you might receive activated charcoal, a universal remedy for many kinds of drug overdoses. This will prevent the caffeine from reaching your gastrointestinal tract.
If, however, it has already entered your gastrointestinal tract, you might instead be offered a laxative or even gastric lavage. Whatever happens, your doctor will know the best method to help.
Does Caffeine Cause Headaches
Some people might suffer from symptoms associated with a caffeine overdose despite not exceeding the daily recommended intake. If you fit this description, you might, unfortunately, have a non-allergic caffeine intolerance. Be sure to talk to a doctor or health professional if this is the case.
Intolerance to caffeine is considerably different from an allergy, which is much rarer. A caffeine allergy is also far more severe, with symptoms including:
- Hives (a rash made up of numerous red bumps)
- Swelling/itching around the lips and tongue
- Trouble breathing/speaking
- Nausea/vomiting/abdominal pain
- Rapid heartbeat
In the most extreme cases, those living with an allergy who come into contact with caffeine might experience anaphylactic shock. This, we hasten to add, is very unlikely, but it’s vital you go to the hospital should this occur.
Caffeine Pregnancy and Breast Feeding
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.
What about breastfeeding mums? For the most, the above advice from NHS Choices applies here, too. Be mindful, however, that when caffeine enters your bloodstream, a small amount can pass to your baby through breast milk. Most young children aren’t affected by this, but some, like adults, might be sensitive.
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.