Tea is one of the most popular beverages across the globe. The reported health benefits of tea include immune system support, reduction of inflammation, and heart disease prevention.
These benefits make tea an attractive option for those looking for an energy boost.
How Much Caffeine is in Tea?
Although all real teas are based from Camellia sinensis leaves, the oxidation of the leaves produces the different varieties of tea we know today.
Black, green, white, and oolong teas are considered real teas, but they differ from each other in taste as well as caffeine content. Herbal and rooibos teas are the only teas that contain no caffeine.
Black tea has the highest caffeine content among the true teas with an average of 75 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounces. Oolong and green teas contain approximately 60 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounces brewed.
White tea generates only 30 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounces. For reference, the average 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 95 milligrams of caffeine.
While you may look to coffee when you’re really needing to wake up, the compound L-Theanine in tea will help you stay focused longer by delaying the “crash” we tend to feel from coffee.
I Need More Caffeine
As with other stimulants, caffeine is addictive. As we ingest it regularly, we develop a tolerance to this stimulant. This can result in you needing more caffeine to truly feel “awake” over time.
You’ve decided that tea is the healthier option, but it doesn’t quite live up to the caffeine standard of your usual morning latte. Is there anything you can do to alter the caffeine content of your tea?
Different varieties of tea have different caffeine content. This is due to the difference in processing between leaves.
Once the Camellia sinensis leaves are picked, they begin to wilt and oxidize. During oxidation, chlorophyll in the leaves decomposes and produces tannins. Tannins give tea their coloring.
Leaves used for black tea will be fully oxidized. They may even be crushed or macerated to increase the permeability of oxygen into the leaf. This process gives black tea its rich, dark coloring and its caffeine prowess.
Green and white teas are oxidized to a much lesser extent. They are heated promptly after picking to halt the breakdown of chlorophyll in the leaves. This results in the mild taste and lower caffeine content in these teas.
To get the most caffeine out of your cup of tea, choose the tea variety that contains the highest concentration of caffeine. The composition of your tea could also contribute to the amount of caffeine in your beverage.
When brewing whole loose leaf tea, it takes considerably more time for the tea leaves to unfurl and infuse.
The tea in tea bags is broken-down leaves. This results in a wider surface area for infusion, but the restriction of the bag could be keeping your tea from steeping fully.
The leaf pieces towards the inside of the bag won’t have as much water pass through them as those on the outside.
Imagine that you attempt to stuff all of your dirty laundry into a mesh bag. You throw this bag into your washer, and turn it on.
The clothes toward the outside of the bag will be cleaner than those on the inside as the soapy water could not permeate the entire mass.
The solution to the infusion dilemma is to select a very fine loose-leaf tea. If this preparation isn’t readily available, simply chop your whole tea leaves immediately before brewing.
Place the leaves into your cup and pour hot water over the finely milled leaves. You can use a strainer to rid your cup of the leaves once they are done brewing, or you can leave them be. There is no harm in ingesting tea leaves.
Your brewing process could be impacting the caffeine content of your tea. Black tea should be steeped in boiling water. The boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The convenience of modern single-cup coffee machines includes the ability to get hot water on demand.
However, these apparatuses only produce water that is approximately 192 degrees Fahrenheit. To correct this dilemma, boil your water on the stove in a pot or in a stove top tea kettle. If you do not have a stove, there are many options for electric tea kettles.
The last factor that could be impacting the concentration of caffeine in your tea is the steeping time. While the general recommendation for black tea is to steep it for five minutes, research suggests that steeping for five minutes will only provide you 70% of the caffeine available in your tea leaves.
To extract the maximum amount of caffeine available, you’ll need to allow the tea to steep for 15 minutes.
The standard recommended steeping times on tea packages are based upon the flavor of tea, not its caffeine content. If you want the most flavorful cup, allow your black tea to steep for six minutes.
However, if your focus is on caffeine, let it remain in the hot water for 15 minutes.
You can continue to add hot water to the cup as the tea leaves steep or microwave your tea for 30 seconds if you want to enjoy your caffeine-loaded tea hot.
If you don’t mind it or even prefer it cold, you can drink the tea at whatever temperature it has come to, or you can pour it over ice to make iced tea.
To increase the amount of caffeine in your tea, you may want to consider brewing more tea. If utilizing bags, use two at once.
If your tea is loose-leaf, you can double the standard one teaspoon per cup to two teaspoons of leaves per cup.
Will the Caffeine Dissolve in the Tea If Steeped for a Long Time?
There is a common misconception that tea brewed for a long time contains no caffeine. Caffeine is a water-soluble substance.
Substances that dissolve in water do not decompose; they break down into smaller parts. Sugar also dissolves in hot water, but you can clearly detect its sweetness if you drank the water.
Caffeine’s melting point is 455 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the only point at which caffeine will begin to degrade rapidly.
The Shelf Life of Tea
Much as with the recommendation for steeping times, the suggested shelf life of tea was made in consideration of its taste, not caffeine content.
It is recommended to consume tea within 6 to 12 months of purchasing it. Commercial teas will sometimes have expiration dates that span two years.
Tea becoming stale is only in reference to its taste. It may become bitter or bland as it ages and is exposed to the elements.
These factors will not affect the caffeine content of your leaves. You should keep tea stored in an opaque, airtight container whether it is loose-leaf or bagged to preserve its flavor over time.
In regards to tea that is already brewed, it will only stay fresh in the refrigerator for three to five days. If left out on the counter at room temperature, it will only retain its flavor for eight hours.
The caffeine content of the tea is not affected by its spoilage.