Tea and Caffeine
February 12, 2010
How much caffeine is in tea? This is a common question, particularly among tea drinkers who have concerns about how the caffeine content in their tea will affect them.
Does your tea contain enough caffeine to give you a nice, clean burst of energy in the morning, or help you to overcome the midday slump? Or will it leave you feeling jittery, anxious, and overstimulated? Will it keep you from falling asleep at bedtime?
These are all valid questions, but it may surprise you to know that there is no single “right” answer to them. The truth is, the amount of caffeine in tea depends entirely on the variety of tea leaves. In the sections below, we’ll help you understand how much caffeine is found in your favorite types of tea, along with other valuable information about tea and caffeine.
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a mild stimulant that occurs naturally in several plants, including Camellia sinensis. This is the plant that is used to steep black, oolong, green, and white teas, meaning that all of these varieties contain some amount of caffeine.
Caffeine has been shown to affect energy levels, mood, stamina, the vascular system, the digestive system, and other functions within the body.* In fact, many people choose to consume caffeine for its ability to clear the mind, lift the spirit, and banish fatigue*.
For some people, it may be possible to consume too much caffeine. Overindulgence in caffeinated foods and beverages can lead to symptoms like irritability, anxiety, and insomnia. For that reason, it is important to know how much caffeine is in the foods and drinks that you consume and monitor your consumption.
How Much Caffeine is in Tea?
On average, a six-ounce cup of black tea has about 50 milligrams of caffeine—less than half the amount in a standard cup of brewed coffee. A similarly-sized cup of oolong tea contains approximately 30-40 milligrams of caffeine, while green tea contains roughly 20-30 milligrams. White tea contains the smallest amount of caffeine of all “true” teas (i.e. those made from the Camellia sinensis plant)—just 15-20 milligrams per cup.
Herbal teas (also called tisanes) such as chamomile, hibiscus, and peppermint teas are naturally caffeine-free. One exception is yerba mate, which contains around half the amount of caffeine per cup found in a similar-sized cup of coffee.
Unlike herbal teas, decaffeinated teas are NOT naturally caffeine-free, but rather have had their caffeine content removed through a specialized process. The Republic of Tea uses a natural CO2 high-pressure extraction process employing carbon dioxide, which is highly effective at removing the caffeine without compromising the flavor, color, quality, or other beneficial components.
It’s also important to note that not all of the caffeine can be fully removed from decaf teas; typically, a very small amount (such as 2-4 milligrams per cup) remains.
For those who prefer a higher dose of caffeine for a strong burst of energy, consider our high caffeine teas, which contain even more caffeine than a similarly-sized cup of coffee at approximately 116 milligrams per cup.
Additionally, tea is unique compared to other sources of caffeine (such as coffee) due to the fact that it contains L-theanine, an amino acid that produces a calming effect.* The caffeine found in tea is also thought to be absorbed into the body more slowly than the caffeine found in coffee.*
This may be why many tea drinkers describe the energy benefits they receive as a calm, steady, gentle alertness, without jitters or afternoon crashes.
Understanding Tea and Caffeine
What does all of this information mean for tea drinkers like you?
Well, the FDA considers a moderate intake of caffeine to be roughly 200-300 milligrams per day; this is the amount that is classified as “generally recognized as safe.” Most Americans consume within this range. A low-to-moderate intake of caffeine would be any amount below this range, while a high dose of caffeine would be more than 400 milligrams per day.
In other words, consuming up to 6 six-ounce cups of black tea per day, or as many as 10 cups of green tea per day, still falls within the “moderate” level of caffeine consumption, as per the FDA’s guidelines.
However, it’s important to remember that your body’s reaction to caffeine may differ from the norm, or that you simply may not enjoy exceeding a certain intake level, even if it is “generally recognized as safe.” Always monitor how you’re feeling while consuming caffeine, and over time you will learn how much you feeling comfortable consuming on a daily basis.
Caffeine Tips for Tea Drinkers
Aside from the type of tea you are steeping, there are a few other factors that will determine how much caffeine ends up in your cuppa. Using hotter water and steeping the tea for longer will extract more caffeine from the leaves.
Additionally, the smaller the leaf, the stronger the extraction of caffeine. Using comparable amounts and steeping times, a tea bag filled with cut leaves will release more caffeine per cup than full-leaf tea.
As you navigate our website, you will find details of each tea’s caffeine content presented with the tea. Caffeine content varies with manufacturing and growing variances as well as brewing conditions and time. Values are approximations.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.