Caffeine in Tea: A Brief Guide

A question we get asked a lot concerns how much caffeine there is in tea—especially relative to coffee. While all tea (Camellia sinensis) has caffeine, the amount you consume varies widely depending on growing conditions, how it’s processed and how it’s prepared for drinking. For example, with loose tea, finely-ground tea will deliver more caffeine than whole, unbroken leaves. Higher water temperature and longer steeping times also draw out more caffeine from the leaves—which is why black tea is typically the most caffeinated.

Generally speaking, however, tea has less caffeine than coffee. Here’s a handy chart to help understand the differences.

Caffeine chart

One last point worth noting: We don’t sell decaffeinated tea and we don’t recommend it. Why? Because decaffeinating tea generally does one of two things: It either strips the tea of its natural flavor, aroma and character, creating a duller replacement, or it’s toxic. Now, no decaffeinated tea you buy in a U.S. chain grocery store will be toxic. But it’ll definitely be a lower quality imitation of real tea. What we recommend instead of decaffeinated tea is drinking an herbal “tea.” Herbals aren’t technically tea, but whatever. They’re used the same way and they’re naturally caffeine-free. Herbals like lemongrass, mint, chamomile and sage all make great substitutes when you want to stay away from caffeine. At Rakkasan Tea, we offer Ceylon Lemongrass from Sri Lanka and we plan to offer a greater variety soon.