So tea has caffeine in it – we all know that right? But how much and why do we constantly hear that white tea has less caffeine than black…aren’t all teas made from the same plant? And tea has the same caffeine content of coffee…or wait…it has less? Confused? Yeah so was I when I started out because the information online is actually pretty conflicting with reality.
First things first- caffeine does not occur from oxidation nor is it something added to your tea or something that can easily be gotten rid of.
Caffeine is a natural pesticide that a plant produces in its leaves to protect itself from insects. This normally means that younger and more vulnerable leaves will contain higher amounts of caffeine because they are at a greater risk from insects.
We know that White, Yellow and Green teas are the made from the youngest leaves and buds. Therefore white and green teas (especially green teas that Pre-Qing Ming) will have a higher amount of caffeine in the leaf/bud.
Black tea, Oolong tea and Puerh are all picked later and should therefore contain less caffeine in the leaves because the leaf picked will be older and will not need such a strong defence against insects.
However this doesn’t mean that your white tea will contain more caffeine when brewed. Nope it’s not that simple! What you normally hear about black tea having the most caffeine in it is probably quite accurate when it comes to the brewed tea.
In general we recommend brewing white tea for the least amount of time with the coolest water. Brewing time and temperature will affect the caffeine level of your tea.
Hotter water = more caffeine released
Longer brewing time = more caffeine released
Therefore despite there being less caffeine in the leaves themselves your pot of brewed black tea (brewed for 4 minutes at 95ºC will probably have more caffeine than your pot of white tea (brewed for 2.5 minutes at 75 ºC).
The annoying thing is…all teas are different so all caffeine levels are different. Our guides are just exactly that… a guide! We can’t control how much tea you use, how long you brew it for, water temp etc.
The good thing is the variation between teas isn’t a massive amount. With Black Tea having between 14-61 mg of caffeine a cup and Green Tea having 24-40 mg the difference between the two isn’t that big. Especially when compared with coffee which on average has about 100-120 mg of caffeine per cup.
Obivously we specialise in Chinese tea but this is true of teas from other countries too!
What have you found with caffeine levels differing between different teas and also compared with coffee? Any comments or questions on the topic would be great!
Thanks for reading,