Caffeine is one of the world’s most popular drugs and one that can be found naturally in coffee, tea and chocolate, while also being added to things like soft drinks and energy drinks. In tea, caffeine is more uncommon than common, but with that in mind, which teas contain it, which teas do not, and what are the levels at which it can be found?
Caffeine in Tea (Camellia Sinensis)
The “tea plant” only produces a few types of tea and all of these contain caffeine. The definition of “tea”, however, has come to mean a hot drink that consists of a herbal infusion, which is why there are so many more teas. If we focus on the tea plant, also known as camellia sinensis, then these are the levels of caffeine found within each version:
- White Tea = 10mg to 15mg per cup. Also known as “oolong” this is a type of tea that is picked when the buds are young. It has a delicate flavor and a lower caffeine content as a result.
- Green Tea = 30mg to 35mg per cup. This is a type of tea that is consumed fresh, which is to say without fermentation. It can be picked one minute and then brewed the next. The lack of fermentation reduces the caffeine a little, but the fact that fully grown buds are used means it is higher than white tea.
- Oolong Tea = 30mg to 40mg. This tea is semi-oxidized, which means that it is part way between green tea and black tea. It is said to be the most popular tea in China.
- Black Tea = 40mg to 50mg per cup. This is the most popular type of tea sold in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and India. It is fully oxidized, which gives it a darker color and a higher caffeine content.
- Pu’erh Tea = 60mg to 70mg per cup. This begins life as a black tea and is then left to ferment for months and even years at a time, producing a rich, unique flavor and a high caffeine content.
Herbal Tea Caffeine Level
There is really only one popular herbal tea that contains caffeine and that’s yerba mate, which is consumed throughout South America and is more popular than coffee and tea in some regions. It contains an average of 30mg of caffeine per cup, which is on par with green tea, but the addition of other compounds mean it produces a greater stimulant effect.
Caffeine is only actually found in several dozen natural plants. Because its something that is found naturally in three things that we eat/drink a lot of, as well as something that is added to a lot of other foodstuffs, it’s easy to assume that caffeine is very common in nature. But while it is far from rare, it’s equally far from common, and there are many more herbal teas that are free of caffeine than there are herbal teas than contain it.
Best Caffeine Free Herbal Tea
If you want something that is free of caffeine and tastes a lot like black tea, then you should opt for Rooibos. This also goes by the name “Red tea” because the dried tea has a distinctive, dark amber color and the tea itself is red. If you add milk, however, then it looks like a pale cup of black tea and it also has a very similar taste.
It is sweeter than black tea as well, so you may even be able to drink it with less sugar. The lack of bitterness stems from the lack of tannins, which are what make black tea bitter and undrinkable when you leave it to steep for too long.
Rooibos is harvested from a bush grown in South Africa. It has been consumed for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and it has commonly consumed there as a healthy alternative to tea (which in itself is also very healthy). Research has suggested that red tea could help to boost the antioxidants in the body and could also help you to burn fat. In fact, there are many potential benefits, which is why we recommend consuming this tea as opposed to decaffeinated black tea, which can undergo all kinds of questionable processes in order to extract the caffeine, including the use of chemical solvents that humans should not go anywhere near, let alone drink.
Other Caffeine Free Herbal Teas
If red tea isn’t quite your thing or you want some other caffeine free alternatives to try, then checkout this list. All of these are naturally caffeine free, which is to say that they don’t contain caffeine in their natural form, as opposed to having it removed via the use of solvents or other extraction methods after they have been harvested.
Unlike red tea, they don’t produce a taste that is similar to black tea, but some of them actually have a nicer taste than green tea and you may find that you prefer one of them to your favorite cup of tea.
Turmeric Tea: This is a spice. The same spice that you will find in most curries in fact. Turmeric is abundant, but it is also one of the healthiest substances in the world and makes for a tea that tastes great and does wonders for your body.
Dandelion Root Tea: A potent natural diuretic that is said to have anti-cancer properties, one of the unique things about dandelion root is that when you take the young roots, roast them and then steep them, you get something that tastes like coffee, but is free from cholesterol and caffeine, two of the things that give coffee such a bad name.
Camomile Tea: One of the most popular herbal teas in the world, camomile can help you with anxiety and sleeplessness. It’s actually better for treating day-time anxiety and sedation than it is for beating insomnia, but it can be used for both. It tastes fantastic and is one of the sweetest, most fragrant teas you can drink. You don’t need milk and you don’t need heaps of sugar either, but we recommend adding a little honey to make it even more enjoyable.