In 1827, tea was discovered to have a caffeine of its own called "theanine". It was soon realized that this caffeine and the caffeine found in coffee were identical. Yet, tea drinkers and coffee drinkers experience stark differences in the effects of caffeine on the body and mind, and questions have surrounded the topic ever since. So, what really influences the disparities between tea and coffee?
Health Benefits of Tea
The first honorable mention is L-theanine. Though sometimes confused as a stimulant, L-theanine is an amino acid. Generally, amino acids have a calming effect on the brain, yet L-theanine has been shown to increase brain "alpha activity", hence, increasing brain awareness. L-theanine has also been shown to work synergistically with caffeine, improving motor functions.
Next, are theobromine and theophylline. Found in tea at up to 4.4mg per cup, these are considered stimulants but don't affect the central nervous system. They have almost identical properties.
The stimulants widen blood vessels, relax the bronchi muscles in the lungs, and lower blood pressure.
Coffee has hardly any theobromine and theophylline.
Caffeine In Tea Vs Coffee
The biggest myth about the caffeine content in tea is that a cup of brewed tea contains more milligrams of caffeine than brewed coffee.
The largest topic of discussion - Caffeine. Yes, it is true that in its raw form, tea leaves contain more caffeine than coffee beans. The myth gains clarity when we look at modern-day brewing methods. It usually takes about 5 times as much coffee as it does tea for the same quantity of water. Even tea bags which contain more caffeine than loose tea due to its smaller leaves yield about half as much caffeine as coffee for the same amount.
In conclusion, though tea technically contains more caffeine than coffee, our methods of consumption are so that we always obtain more caffeine from a cup of coffee than a cup of tea. And of course, for those concerned with any amounts of caffeine intake, there is always herbal tea!
Caffeine Levels In The 5 Types of Tea
A common misconception is that black tea has the highest caffeine level of all teas. The truth is black tea caffeine levels vary, and are oftentimes less than those of green and white teas.
The biggest factors that play a role in caffeine content are: the part of the tea plant harvested, the cultivar, and the brewing methods. Read more here.
If the buds of a tea plant are harvested on a given day, part of it goes for green tea processing, while the other for oxidation and black tea processing, the final teas will have the same caffeine content.
Can I Decaffeinate My Own Tea?
Another popular myth is that by rinsing our tea leaves we wash away most, if not all the caffeine. This is absolutely not true.
Decaffeinating tea is a serious process that requires special equipment, not something that can be done at home.
Studies show that if we rinse the tea leaves for at least 15 minutes, we will get rid of almost all the caffeine and with it all the flavor, nutrients, and benefits. Not recommended.
To learn more about the caffeine contents in tea check out our caffeine tag.