Can I Decaffeinate My Own Tea?

Posted by Path of Cha on

For a lot of tea drinkers out there the caffeine content in tea is becoming more and more a concern. Whether you have to stop drinking caffeine for a while, or for a longer time, all tea made from Camellia Sinensis naturally contains caffeine. Of course, it is always less than the amount of caffeine you find in coffee, yet it is still caffeine. (Read more: Caffeine: Tea vs Coffee)

Generally, a cup of tea will contain between 25% to 50% of the caffeine you would find in a cup of coffee.

 



Many factors influence the levels of caffeine you will find in tea. You can read more about this here.


There has been a common misconception that you can decaffeinate tea by yourself at home. Unfortunately for some, this is not true. Furthermore, even commercial decaf teas still contain a tiny amount of caffeine.


The common misconception has been that by rinsing the tea with boiling water, most of the caffeine will be washed away, while all the good nutrients stay. So if you have been rinsing your teas to get less caffeine in your brew, chances are it hasn’t affected it by much.



How Is Decaf Tea Usually Made?


A variety of methods are used to make teas decaf, all of which involve certain chemicals like ethyl acetate, carbon dioxide (CO2), or methylene chloride. Then, after being processed with these chemicals, the tea leaves are thoroughly rinsed.

These methods free the tea leaves of their caffeine by 99.5%, and usually the last 0.5% does no harm.

Now if trying to make the tea “decaf” at home by rinsing it with boiling water the best result you may get is a less flavorful tea with a slightly lower caffeine content and significantly fewer nutrients. We personally do not recommend this method.

A study has shown that making a tea “decaf” by steeping it in boiling water for 6 minutes will reduce the caffeine content by 80% however we are sure you would not prefer to ruin your exquisite teas in this way.



So What Are The Options For Those Trying to Stay Away From Caffeine?


There’s a number of things you can do to avoid larger amounts of caffeine when drinking tea. For example:

  • brew the tea correctly. don’t use boiling water for green teas, which brings out more of the caffeine
  • steep for shorter amounts of time, as you would do in GongFu Cha. skip grandpa style and western-style if you are monitoring your caffeine intake.
  • brew loose leaf tea. studies have shown that tea bags actually contain more caffeine
  • check out some of the teas that are naturally low in caffeine, for example, some (but not all!) white teas
  • skip caffeine altogether by trying some of the delicious and invigorating herbal blends

 


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