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Drinking green: Does green tea have caffeine?
I confess – I am a green tea drinker! I love a mug or two of green tea each day to help stay hydrated. Having never been a coffee fan or black tea drinker myself I was surprised when I finally discovered the green stuff, and found I liked it. I just prefer the lighter, refreshing taste you get from green teas. But does it contain caffeine and is it a good choice for that morning brew?
What is green tea?
Green tea is one of the oldest drinks in the world. Camellia sinensis is the plant that green tea comes from (the same plant is also used for black tea and oolong tea) – great little factoid for the next quiz night you go to 😊
Green tea contains many antioxidants. The main antioxidant in green tea is a polyphenol known as catechins.
These antioxidants appear to give green tea many great properties. It has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties – that has to be a good thing! There is also strong evidence suggesting it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer.
What is the difference between green tea and black tea?
The obvious visible difference between green tea and black tea is in the colour.
Green tea has very little processing, with the leaves dried quickly after harvesting, allowing them to retain that green colour and preventing any oxidisation from taking place.
Black tea is allowed to oxidise fully before the drying process is carried out. This change causes the leaves to darken and the flavour to deepen. Black tea will often be crushed into smaller pieces to encourage this process to take place.
What is oxidisation? It is something we have all come across when we have sliced an apple and left it exposed to the air. The chemicals in the food change when exposed to the oxygen in the surrounding air, causing a change in colour.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural compound that is found in tea and coffee plants and acts as a stimulant to your central nervous system.
As we are all unique individuals, caffeine can affect us all differently. Some of us may be highly sensitive to even small amounts of caffeine, while others may be able to drink several caffeinated drinks with little side effects.
How much should we be consuming?
The NHS does not currently have a direct guidance on caffeine intake for adults, but multiple other sources (like the FDA from the USA) appear to suggest a maximum amount of 400mg a day for healthy adults.
Does green tea have caffeine?
Yes. Just like all tea, green tea naturally contains caffeine.
But how much caffeine does green tea have when compared to black tea or even coffee?
Every tea, from black tea and oolong to white tea and green tea, has a naturally occurring level of caffeine. The amount of caffeine found varies and depends on type of tea, whether you are using whole or crushed tea leaves, tea processing and so forth. Different brands and blends will all vary from one another – some may have caffeine content on their labels to give you a heads up, others it is a bit more vague.
In general, green tea will have a lower caffeine level than that of black tea – but there are of course exceptions to this rule.
As an approximate guide:
A cup of Green tea contains 30-50mg of caffeine
A cup of Black tea contains 40-60mg of caffeine
A cup of Coffee contains 80-100mg of caffeine
As you can see, the levels of caffeine found in tea are considerably lower than that found in coffee.
There are many factors that can affect how much caffeine is actually in your morning cup of tea – from how and where the tea is grown, how the tea is treated and even how it is brewed. For example, crushed leaves (like those in tea bags) will result in a higher caffeine tea than whole leaves. Brewing your tea at a higher temperature for longer will mean you get a higher caffeine hit! Then there is the amount of tea you use – more tea means more caffeine per cup – something to remember when filling that tea strainer the next time!
If I choose a decaffeinated tea will that have zero caffeine in?
No. Decaffeinated options for both tea and coffee are not fully caffeine free. Instead, they have significantly reduced levels of caffeine to their standard varieties. By law, tea that is labelled as “decaffeinated”, must contain less than 2.5% of its original caffeine level so while the amounts will be low they will not be zero. Best to check those labels again when opting for a decaf variety, to see exactly how much caffeine is in a typical cup.
If you want to go truly caffeine free then look to herbal “teas” – they often do not contain any actual tea leaves and instead use other herbs to create caffeine free infusions!
Will it help keep you hydrated?
A cup of green tea can absolutely count towards your daily fluid intake goals and can help you stay hydrated. There is the myth that tea and coffee can cause dehydration as caffeine is a diuretic, but the dehydrating effect of the caffeine is far outweighed by the volume of liquid in your mug of tea. Good to know!
In a rush in the morning but still need your tea fix? An Ohelo travel mug will change your life for the better! Not just lead free, dishwasher safe and 100% leakproof (though all those things are awesome), it also comes with a detachable tea strainer – so whether you like loose leaf or tea bag tea you can take your fave brew with you!
Drinking it all in
Yes green tea has caffeine in, but with levels lower than black tea or coffee offers a gentler morning pick me up. It counts towards our daily hydration goals and may have many health benefits too. Sip sip hooray!