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Caffeine in tea: by type and in other beverages
Caffeine (1,3,7-trimethylxanthine), also known as theine in tea, is also present in coffee, cocoa and mate. It is a stimulant and diuretic. Caffeine promotes alertness and combats fatigue. In high quantities it can however give tise to jitteryness and irritability. It is thought that the compound L-theanine in tea has the effect that caffeine passes into the bloodstream and dissipates more slowly than caffeine released from coffee. This makes tea more refreshing.
Caffeine in tea and other beverages are summarised in on our page The Health Benefits of Tea. Unlike excessive consumption of coffee, there really is no such thing as excessive consumption of tea. It is much more likely to good than any harm. This is not only because caffeine levels in tea are much less than coffee but beause the body absorbs caffeine from tea much more slowly and it also dissipates more slowly. Coffee creates a peak in the bloodstream giving that classic coffee ‘high’. This is one reason why tea seems more refreshing than coffee.
For those concerned about their caffeine consumption green tea contains about half the caffeine of black tea. White tea contains nearly half that of green tea. It is possible to buy good quality decaffeinated tea such as our Ceylon black tea blend but, by trying other types of tea, it is possible to find others, such as green teas, which have naturally low levels of caffeine and have plenty of taste.
It is also worth considering many herbal infusions which are caffeine-free. These are commonly known as herbal teas although they contain no actual tea. Rooibos is well known to taste somewhat like tea but there are others such as honeybush which have distinctive and attractive tastes of their own.
What affects the amount of caffeine in our tea? The following factors all play a part in determining how much caffeine is in your cup: amount of tea used relative to the quantity of water, size of leaf (small leaf teas brew more quickly), length of brewing and temperature of the water used (hotter water extracts more caffeine from the tea).
What is the maximum quantity of caffeine that we should consume? The NHS states that this should be no more than 400mg per day and 200 mg per day for pregnant women. 400mg equates to about four cups of ground coffee or ten cups of medium strength black tea.