Everything you need to know about caffeine in Tea

For centuries, tea has been known to be enriched with many chemical and mineral compounds that are refreshing, relaxing and stimulating at the same time. Regardless of the type of tea, the raw material of tea remains the same Camellia Sinensis bud better known as the tea plant.

Information about tea indicates that the small tea bud contains compounds such as polyphenols, theanine, sodium, proteins and carbohydrates. Amongst these compounds found in fresh tender shoots of tea plants is also caffeine. Caffeine is major methylxanthine alkaloid found in tea, being present in the tender shoots to an extent of 3-5 percent of dry weight. Caffeine’s content in processed tea would vary from 1 per cent – 5 per cent. Both black and green teas have similar amounts of caffeine concentration.

It is the caffeine in tea that gives the revitalizing effect to a cup of tea. It acts on the brain, increases alertness and also relieves fatigue. Research has found that the combination of caffeine and theanine which is unique to tea, synergistically improves attention and performance. This makes tea an ideal beverage during work and study.

Regardless of where the tea originates from, tea would contain the same compounds in varying degrees depending on the geographical, climatic and regional differences. Ceylon tea, which is renowned as the world’s best tea is no exception to this.

How much caffeine is there in tea?

The concentration of caffeine in black tea is 1-5 per cent of which 80 percent is extracted into the brew. A typical high-quality cup of tea contains approximately 40-50 mg of caffeine although the range could vary between 30-90 mg for an average cup of tea.

How much caffeine is in Ceylon tea? Ceylon tea contains the same range of 30-90 mg of caffeine. However this may vary depending on what type of tea you buy. White tea and green tea for instance would have slightly higher levels of caffeine compared with black tea.

Caffeine levels in Ceylon teas such as Dilmah English Breakfast tea, English Afternoon tea , Darjeeling tea and Ceylon Supreme are medium in caffeine content and can be consumed all day without any harm.

The higher amounts of caffeine in high quality teas is due to proportionately higher amounts present in the bud versus the first leaf. Caffeine content in tea lowers with leaf maturity.

A normal daily consumption of 5-6 cups of tea per day therefore would give an intake of 150 -450 mg of caffeine. This level is below the 600 mg advocated for those with heart diseases. However, studies have shown that the actual average intake of caffeine per person per day was an average 300 mg which is inclusive of other caffeine rich consumptions such as carbonated beverages, coffee, chocolate etc.

Which has more caffeine, coffee or tea?

Tea has the same antioxidant levels as coffee, but tea is a better beverage because the caffeine in coffee are not mitigated by the presence of flavonoids.

Compared to coffee, tea has significantly lower caffeine. The amount of caffeine in a cup of tea or coffee could vary due to many reasons such as the variety of tea or coffee, method of processing and brewing. However, in general coffee contains higher amounts of caffeine than tea. An average cup of tea could contain 30 – 90 mg of caffeine while in coffee it could be 60 – 150 mg.

Which tea has more caffeine?

Generally, cultivars used for green tea processing contain lower levels of caffeine than in cultivars used for black tea processing. Therefore, green tea contain relatively less amounts of caffeine. However, there are many other factors such as the plucking standards that can influence the caffeine levels.

Oolong tea is produced using cultivars intended for both green and black tea production. Therefore, oolong tea may contain varying amounts of caffeine.

White tea is generally produced using only the buds. As bud contains the highest amount of caffeine compared to the leaves, white tea would contain higher amounts of caffeine.

In a study on the caffeine content of teas commonly consumed in the UK, it was found that black teas contained significantly higher caffeine (22-28 mg of dry matter) than less fermented green teas (11-20 mg of dry matter).

The caffeine intake from tea alone, calculated on the assumption of an average 3 cups of tea per day (200 ml per cup) ranged between 92 -146 mg, much lower than the advocated levels of caffeine.