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September 24, 2007

How is tea decaffeinated?

Filed under: Black Tea,Green Tea,Tea and Health,Tea preparation — Administrator @ 4:57 pm

All decaffeination processes use a solvent to dissolve the caffeine and then remove the solvent from the
tea. All methods leave some small amount of caffeine behind

Two different methods are commonly used decaffeinate tea:

  1. Chemical (Methylene chloride or Ethyl acetate )
  2. Super Critical Carbon Dioxide (CO2 method)

Many commonly available teas are decaffeinated with chemical methods. These methods involve
extracting the caffeine directly or indirectly with methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. In both cases, the
tea leaves are moistened to allow the caffeine to be removed and then the non-caffeinated water is
added back to the leaves. Methylene chloride is reported to be the most effective but in very high doses
studies have shown it to be a carcinogen.

Ethyl acetate is another compound used to extract caffeine from tea. Ethyl acetate occurs naturally in tea
leaves, coffee, bananas, and other types of produce. For the purposes of the decaffeination process the
Ethyl acetate is synthetically produced. While ethyl acetate effectively removes caffeine from tea leaves,
it can also extract other chemical components as well. Studies on green tea decaffeinated with ethyl
acetate have shown the potential for up to 30% of epigallocathechin gallate (EGCG-considered to be the
primary beneficial component in green tea) and other beneficial antioxidant compounds to be extracted
along with the caffeine.

Highlights of the Chemical Methods

  • methylene chloride is very effective at removing caffeine
  • At very high does it is a carcinogen (no carcinogenic effect at low doses)
  • Tea leaves are moistened to remove the caffeine
  • According to studies, Ethyl Acetate removes up to 30% of the antioxidants in green tea

CO2 Method

Uses highly pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) —the gas that adds bubbles to mineral water—to dissolve
caffeine from tea leaves. At high pressures CO2 makes an effective solvent. In its pressurized state,
CO2 is pumped into a sealed chamber containing tea, where it is allowed to circulate to remove the
caffeine. From there, it is pumped into a washer vessel where water or activated charcoal is used to
separate the caffeine from the CO2. The purified CO2 is recirculated into the pressurized chamber. This
process is repeated until the appropriate amount of caffeine has been removed.

Highlights of the CO2 method

  • does not leave a chemical residue
  • has a minimal effect on the flavor and beneficial compounds in tea. (For example, CO2 leaves
    intact approximately 95% of the original EGCG content of green tea)
  • Generally costs more than the Chemical methods

Our Souvia Label decaffeinated teas use the CO2 method. We believe this to be the best method for
you and for the tea. We also offer non-caffeinated alternatives like Rooibos.

September 10, 2007

Canada’s FDA weighs in on Tea

Filed under: Tea and Health — Administrator @ 7:40 am

I recently came across a May 2007 article on Canda’s official stance on Tea.? In part it reads “Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) has deemed tea to be a natural health product and has officially recognized tea for its role in maintaining good health. ”

Additionally, Canada now allows the following three health claims:

After extensive review, the NHPD approved three health claims for tea:

1.? All types of tea infusions (black, green and oolong) are recognized as a source of antioxidants for the maintenance of good health.
2.? Tea is approved for increasing alertness.
3.? Tea helps to maintain and/or support cardiovascular health.
? Looking at the Health Canada Website reveals? a well documented tea report.? A monograph on tea? provides references to the studies used to come to this conclusion.

? There are no real surprise here for those that are regular tea drinkers and have done some research, but it is nice to see recent scientific data on the properties many take for granted.

September 3, 2007

Tea and Elizabeth Taylor

Filed under: Black Tea,Tea Culture — Administrator @ 12:21 pm

Elephant WalkWe just watched an interesting movie called Elephant Walk.? ? It takes place on a tea plantation in the Ceylon (Now Sri Lanka) shortly after World War II.? It shows not only the excesses of the British run plantation but also much of the processing and vast expanse of a tea gardens.

It has some great footage, costumes and a decent plot.? Definitley worth a rental for the scenery alone!