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Black Tea Caffeine Content: Is It Actually High?

Posted by Angelina Kurganska on

A common claim is that black tea caffeine content is much higher than that of green or white tea. Many people will always make a choice to drink green tea believing that the caffeine content is much lower. There are also people who say that green tea has zero caffeine.

The 5 Unarguable Truths About Tea Caffeine Levels:

1. All tea derived from Camellia Sinensis naturally has caffeine, unless it was decaffeinated 

2. The level of caffeine varies in all types of tea based on many factors 

3. Young tea leaves and buds have the highest caffeine levels

4. Tea leaves harvested from the same bush on the same day will have the same caffeine level (whether it goes on to be processed as a black tea or a white tea)

5. The newer and less processed the tea, the higher the caffeine amount.


black tea caffeine

Strongest Teas: Tea With Highest Caffeine Level

There are at least a few noteworthy things that play a role on caffeine levels in tea:

  • tea made from buds and first flush leaves

  • tea bushes fertilized with nitrogen (common in Japanese teas)

  • African teas have a generally higher caffeine content than Chinese teas (African tea bushes are cloned and made of the Assamica type rather than Sinensis)

Some of the lowest caffeine content is found in older Chinese tea bushes harvested in the fall.

Next, we should take a look at how processing plays a role in the caffeine content of tea.

Longer withering times increase caffeine content by a small percentage, and longer oxidation times will actually decrease caffeine content.

It is a common misconception that highly oxidized teas like black teas and Pu-erh have higher caffeine content. It is wrong to assume that an entire tea type will have a more or less stable caffeine content and it is indeed often disproved.

When purchasing teas from Path Of Cha take a look at the caffeine content under the description of each tea to see the exact measurements.

Caffeine In Tea Vs Coffee 

Many believe they should not have any caffeine. This belief unfortunately often comes from experiences when people would have a high caffeine intake from coffee or other caffeinated beverages like soda and energy drinks.

Is the caffeine in tea the same?

The answer is, of course, yes. But! Tea contains L-theanine. Though sometimes confused as a stimulant, L-theanine is an amino acid. In general, amino acids calm the brain, however, L-theanine increases brain "alpha activity", in turn, increasing brain awareness. L-theanine works synergistically with caffeine and improves motor functions.

We also believe that it is best not to opt for decaffeinated teas as the decaffeination process not only rids the tea leaves from the caffeine but with it all the valuable nutrients and benefits of tea. Read more.

While drinking decaffeinated teas might be necessary for those with a high caffeine intolerance, many find that drinking certain teas with low caffeine contents won’t affect their well-being and will actually positively energize them, imparting a state of clear-mindedness.


If you do have a serious caffeine intolerance, however, consider drinking tisanes which still have plenty of nutrients and other herbal tea benefits. 


green tea caffeine content

Caffeine In Green Tea vs Black Tea

First, to answer the question does green tea have caffeine? — It most certainly does! Furthermore, as already mentioned black tea does not necessarily have a higher caffeine content than green tea and it will depend on the processing method along with other conditions.

For instance, many Japanese green teas often have higher caffeine content because:

  1. the soil is fertilized with nitrogen (which also increases the nutritious value of the tea)
  2. the tea bushes are shaded before harvest, which increases not only the desired theanine but also the green tea caffeine content. This is one of the reasons why Japanese teas are such a deep, vibrant green color.

To learn more about the caffeine contents in tea check out our caffeine tag