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6 Ways to Reduce (or Increase!) Caffeine in Your Tea

Paru Tea Bar packaging with a teacup, tea and latte with a penguin pastry

For every person who only drinks black tea for maximum focus, there’s someone who only drinks herbal tea since caffeine gives them a headache. But it’s less simple than choosing a type of tea and sticking with it—there are a lot of ways you can adjust the caffeine in your drink no matter what type of tea you have in your mug.


Steeping time

Steeping releases water slowly into a brew, so you have plenty of time to take the tea out and modify the caffeine level. A study from the Journal of Analytical Toxicology revealed some exact numbers. For a 6oz cup of hot water, Stash Premium Green yielded 16mg at 1 min, 27mg at 2 min, and 36mg at 5 min.


Water temperature

Heat extracts caffeine, so a hot brew will have more caffeine than an iced one. This only applies to the “cold brew” method—making your tea hot and then pouring it over ice will yield a similar caffeine level to never icing it in the first place.


Varietals

While black tea has more caffeine than green tea on average, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Take green tea for example: hojicha has almost no caffeine, while matcha uses the whole leaf and comes supercharged. In the case of white tea, typically regarded as the weakest among teas, some can have almost as much caffeine as a green brew. Caffeine level among varietals is influenced by factors like oxidation and the part of the leaf used.


Amount of infusions

Sometimes, more is more. A second steep has 70% of the caffeine as the original on average, with the third yielding about 25%. The actual percentage depends on the length of each steep.


Water level

It’s all about the ratio: the more water you use, the more diluted your tea will be, and consequently, the less caffeine will be in each cup. We recommend 4g of tea per 8oz of water, but feel free to use more or less to control your caffeine intake.


Leaf status

The more the leaves are broken up, the more caffeine is released. If you’re looking for supercharged caffeine, a classic powdery tea bag (e.g. Lipton) will have that kick. Matcha, with its ground-up quality, has this effect too. Whole leaf teas will have a gentler touch.


By the way:

Decaf tea contains trace amounts of caffeine. It also loses a lot of the nice flavor during the decaffeination process.


The bottom line

experiment! A lot of factors are involved, so whether you try to control your caffeine intuitively or mathematically, remember that you have the power to modify it to how you want it—it’s so much more than black versus green.

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