Does tea have more caffeine than coffee?
Does tea have more caffeine than coffee – where to start on this well trodden subject? There are quite a few myths and tales flying around about whether tea has more caffeine than coffee- Some interesting, but some definitely misunderstood!
Here at Bluebird HQ we would like to set the record straight on the question we get asked the most - 'Does tea have more caffeine than coffee?'. You might also like to read our ‘Is decaf tea better for you?’ article.
What has more caffeine coffee or tea?
As you can see from the caffeine infographic above when comparing a standard cup of tea to a standard cup of coffee, there is half the amount of caffeine in your cup of tea than coffee. BUT not all teas have the same caffeine content, white tea often has the least caffeine and matcha green tea powder the most.
The the amount of caffeine which actually ends up in your body is influenced by lots of factors such as type of tea leaf (black, green, white etc.), age of leaf, water temperature, steeping time and many others.
If you are considering your caffeine in-take, you should also consider how caffeine fits into your lifestyle, health + goals as you could be suprised to find that caffeine in tea might actually be helpful.
What is caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural compound found in leaves and seeds such as tea and coffee. It acts as a stimulant in humans and is a natural pesticide in plants. The caffeine present in the leaves of the tea plant helps to kill all those pesky bugs that are trying to eat its lush leaves!
But not all caffeine is created equal. The source of caffeine, be it the coffee bean, tea plant, kola nut or yerba mate plant, is what is responsible for causing the different effects the caffeine has on your body.
Matcha green tea has the most caffeine of all the teas... Check out our favourite matcha recipes!
Which tea type has more caffeine?
All types of tea starts its life as a leaf from the Camellia Sinensis plant and as we have already see from the infographic all those teas naturally have some caffeine in them. The type of tea those leaves eventually end up as (Black, Green, White etc.) is influenced by their treatment once they are picked. This also influences the caffeine content.
For example, an important part of producing black tea is the oxidization stage which sees a change in the molecular structure of the leaf (we can see this visually as the leaves turn black, much like a banana skin would when left out exposed to air) and this in turn alters the caffeine molecules present in the leaf.
Green and white teas do not go through this oxidization stage so we are right to presume that is why white and green teas have much less caffeine in them than black teas? Not necessarily, because how you drink your tea will further affect how much caffeine you consume into your body.
For example: Green and white tea is usually steeped in a lower temperature and for a shorter time which gives the caffeine less chance to dissolve into the water.
This doesn’t mean the original tea had less caffeine, just that less of it was released into the water.
Then you get blended teas, our speciality, which are teas that are a mixture of tea leaves and other ingredients. For all of our tea blends the caffeine content is much lower than other teas out there because they contain other, naturally caffeine free, herbs and spices.
It is also important to note that some of the straight purest white teas, like silver needles buds, have nearly as much caffeine in them as black tea. The fragile buds have a high level of caffeine as it helps to protect the baby leaves from pests and insects.
I want decaf tea!
If you are wanting to avoid caffeine altogether there are plenty of options out there that naturally do not contain any caffeine at all.
Good news, Bluebird has one of the largest selections of totally decaffeinated tea in the UK. Any of our blends that are orange (fruit), purple (herbal) or red (rooibos) are completely caffeine free.