Caffeine in Tea & Why Tea is the Original “Bulletproof” Beverage
Camellia sinensis, also known as tea, contains about a quarter to one-half of the caffeine in coffee, depending on the variety. Tea is also host to naturally occurring phyto-chemicals that prolong the release of caffeine in the body, while at the same time providing a sense of relaxation. These properties make tea an ideal beverage for prolonged focus and well-being.
Why Tea is the Original “Bulletproof” Beverage
“Bulletproof” coffee – a mixture of coffee, coconut oil and butter – is a beverage made popular over the last couple of years for it’s “enhancing” effect on coffee. The idea behind this buttery drink is that while normal coffee gives you a spike of energy, and then a significant crash, the fat content in “bulletproof” coffee slows the absorption rate of the caffeine. This provides a slower and steadier release of caffeine to sustain you throughout the day.
What’s interesting about tea, is that the leaves contain high levels of anti-oxidants and tannins that have the very same effect on caffeine absorption as the fat in bulletproof coffee. These plant chemicals bind to the caffeine molecules, slowing the release of, and thus prolonging the energizing effect of the caffeine in tea. This makes tea’s energizing effect smoother, and eliminates the crash you get from other caffeinated drinks – much like the intended effects of “bulletproof” coffee. So in a sense, tea is the original bullet-proof beverage!
Tea’s other Mood-Enhancing Properties.
While the caffeine in tea provides a pleasant energizing lift, tea contains another interesting chemical called L-theanine. This amino acid, found exclusively in camellia sinensis, reduces stress and promotes relaxation. It does this without dampening the effect of caffeine. In fact, L-theanine works synergistically with caffeine to provide a zen-like state of alert relaxation – perfect for work, meditation, and creative pursuits.
Caffeine Levels in Different Teas
The caffeine levels in tea vary dramatically depending on many factors. This includes terroir micro-climates and soil quality, plant varietals, production techniques, and brewing style. While each individual variety of tea has a unique level of caffeine, here is the easiest way to understand the general levels of caffeine in tea:
Least amount of caffeine → Most amount of caffeine
White → Green → Oolong → Pu’er → Black
Herbal teas, which are not true tea (camellia sinensis) do not contain any caffeine. That is, except for Yerba Maté, which contains about the same amount of caffeine as black tea.
Within this basic framework for understanding caffeine levels in tea, there is a lot of overlapping and some big exceptions. One such exception is Matcha tea. This powdered green tea has about twice the amount of caffeine as a typical green tea.
A Different Tea for each Part of the Day
While coffee offers only regular and decaf, tea offers a range of caffeine levels so you can find just the right one for your caffeine preference. I enjoy alternating different teas throughout the day to meet my precise energy needs for the moment. I often start the day with a smooth cup of Spring Dragon Well green tea before meditation. Then I sip on a late-morning cup of oolong, either nutty and roasted Da Hong Pao or a greener and slightly floral Tie Kuan Yin. After lunch I treat myself to a cup of digestive Dark Liji Pu’er tea. At the end of the day I switch to caffeine-free herbal teas, some of my favorite being Dark Buckwheat, Chamomile Lavender, or Vanilla Rooibos.
Curate your own collection of Arogya teas to energize your day with a variety healthful and delicious drinks. If you’re not sure which tea is best for your caffeine needs, come by the shop and sample some of our most popular teas. You can also find all of our teas in retail and bulk options on our website.
By Chloe Bolton