Most people assume that if they need a caffeine hit, coffee should be their drink of choice. However, did you know that tea also has caffeine? In this article, we will explore several caffeine-related questions regarding tea.
- How much caffeine is it safe to consume each day?
- How much caffeine is in tea?
- Does the caffeine content vary depending on the type of tea?
- Do herbal and fruit teas contain caffeine?
- Is there more caffeine in coffee than in tea?
What is caffeine and how much can I have each day?
Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in a variety of plant species around the world, including coffee, chocolate, cola nuts and yes, it’s also found in tea! Caffeine affects people differently – some find it helps them to stay alert and focussed, some are very sensitive to it and some can’t consume food or drink with caffeine too late in the day as it can affect their sleep.
In the UK, the NHS advises that adults should consume a maximum of 400mg of caffeine per day. This is 4 small cups, or 2 large cups. Toddlers and young children should not have any caffeine as it impedes growth, and pregnant women should only have 200mg a day. Both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the European Food Safety Authority follow these guidelines as well.
How much caffeine is in tea?
How much caffeine is in tea depends on two things – the type of tea you will brew and how long you steep it for. The amount of caffeine ranges from 10mg in white tea to 85mg in Yerba Mate. The higher the water temperature is, the more quickly the caffeine will be released and the longer the tea is steeped the more this effect will be compounded.
Does the caffeine content vary depending on the type of tea?
Let’s see how much caffeine is in different types of tea, starting with the least. (Each amount mentioned is per 8oz cup of tea.)
- Herbal and fruit teas such as camomile, rooibos, and peppermint do not contain any caffeine.
- Decaffeinated black teas contain between 2-20mg per cup.
- Matcha green tea comes in powdered form and has around 35mg of caffeine in each cup.
- Green teas have around 35-40mg.
- An average cup of black tea has around 50mg but some can have up to 90mg.
- Yerba Mate is a tea popular in South America made from holly tree leaves. If you’re looking for a real alternative to coffee this is it! It has an incredible 85mg of caffeine per 8oz cup of tea.
If you’re looking for an even bigger caffeine hit try these teas with added caffeine by Celestial Seasonings:
- Black Energy Tea – 95mg of caffeine per cup
- Caffeinated Fast Lane Black Tea – 90mg of caffeine per cup
These teas are specifically marketed alternatives to coffee. The Celestial Seasonings website has a wide range of teas and the caffeine content is clearly displayed on each page for those who are concerned about their caffeine intake.
Do herbal and fruit teas contain caffeine?
The vast majority of herbal and fruit teas do not have caffeine. The following is a short list of ‘pure’ herbal teas that have zero caffeine content:
However, some do contain caffeine such as Yerba Mate (as we mentioned above) which has a very high caffeine content.
Another South American herbal tea is Guarana tea which is drunk widely in Peru, Brazil, and Paraguay. It has a very high caffeine content, comparable with Yerba Mate and coffee.
Some herbal teas are blended with true teas and that’s when their caffeine content is altered, such as the Sencha tea blend which is green tea and therefore contains caffeine.
So how does the caffeine content of tea compare to that of coffee?
Most people drink brewed coffee which is prepared by pouring hot water over ground coffee beans that are filtered. One cup of regular coffee (8oz cup here, same as in our tea examples) has an average of 95mg of caffeine. This is almost twice the amount found in an average cup of English Breakfast Tea.
Espresso-based coffees have around 63mg of caffeine in a small serving and closer to 125mg in a large or double espresso.
For those coffee drinkers who are perhaps less particular, instant coffee offers a lower caffeine count with an average cup containing around 60mg of caffeine. This is because there is no brewing process. You simply pour boiling water over freeze-dried granules.
Decaffeinated coffee actually has some caffeine in it, although a meagre 3mg is about all you’ll get in an average cup.
It seems that in order to have the lowest caffeine intake when drinking hot beverages you’re best off choosing either decaf coffee or fruit or herbal teas. If you can’t face giving up your daily cuppa, stick with English Breakfast Tea, and if you’re a hard-core caffeine addict you can have 2-3 cups of coffee to remain within health recommendations.
Whatever beverage you choose, enjoy!
Check Is Tea Good For You And Learn More about Tea.