Caffeine, More or Less

There’s a reason that, when drinking coffee, you feel more jittery than when drinking tea. Coffee has no polyphenols, which join with caffeine in tea to reduce the impact on your body. In addition, according to Jeffrey Blumberg (researcher at Tufts University), the two properties together may actually enhance focus, leading to better attention. So all those late night coffee drinking study groups in college might have been better served drinking tea.  

As for tea, some kinds contain less caffeine than others. Green tea has less than black tea, we know that. But white tea is debatable. Because most white tea uses the first leaf and leaf tips, it is thought to contain more caffeine. This is because new growth on tea plants contains the most caffeine, probably due to the spurt of new growth. The down on the buds also add to the amount of caffeine. Still, unless you are uber sensitive to caffeine, you may not notice the difference between white and green tea the way you notice the effects of drinking coffee on your body. 

In an effort to reduce caffeine, consider this: there are two major plants from which tea is produced. Tea grown in India, Sri Lanka, and Africa generally uses the Camellia sinensis assamica plant, while tea grown in China uses predominantly the Camellia sinensis sinensis  (what’s up with repeating words?) plant.  The assamica plant can produce up to 33% more caffeine. Also, leaves that grow in the heat of summer produce more caffeine than leaves that grow in the spring. Water temp and length of steeping can also make a difference. 212 degree tea tastes very different than 175 degree tea, and with a shorter steep time, contains less caffeine.  

If you are  concerned about reducing all caffeine (because even decaffeinated tea has some caffeine), drink herbal teas containing rooibos or fruits, herbs and flowers. But then, those are not actually tea, with the Camellia sinensis leaf.  

We have true teas and herbals at the NW Tea Festival, Oct 5 & 6, at the Fischer Pavilion at Seattle Center. 

It’s tea time in Seattle. Come celebrate with us.