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June 21, 2013

Caffeine – Friend or Foe?

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — Kwingert @ 10:03 am




loose tea

It seems there is no real consensus among experts on the answer to this question. While some consider it harmful, recent studies praise its potential health benefits.

Fact is that caffeine is a bitter substance, naturally occurring in some plants as their protective measure against insects and microbes – a natural pesticide! In the human body, caffeine increases metabolism and stimulates the nervous system, which leaves us more alert, feeling less tired and a little more cheerful. Negative effects such as heart palpitations, headaches and sleeplessness are typically the result of too much caffeine or sensitivity to it. For most people, though, the moderate consumption of caffeine is not harmful.

Truth is also, that the level of caffeine in your favorite drinks varies greatly and that not all caffeine is created equal.  Let’s take a closer look at the makeup and effects of caffeine in your cup of tea:

How much is in my cup?

This is one of the most asked questions we get. The answer is: “It depends”. A variety of factors determine the caffeine content in the dry tea leaf and in the steeped leaf.

Since caffeine is a pesticide, the younger shoots and leaves have more caffeine than the more mature tea leaves. The type of tea plant, soil texture, climate, and elevation all play a role in how much caffeine the tea leaf produces.

Processing methods also matter when it comes to the caffeine content in your cup. Green and black teas undergo different processing and the oxidation step of black tea production changes the cellular structure of the leaf in such a way that caffeine is more readily available to dissolve in water.

Steeping time and water temperature have a great impact on the caffeine level in your cup as well. Caffeine is water-soluble and the longer it is exposed to water, the more caffeine molecules are released – in short, the longer you steep your tea, the more caffeine you’ll end up with. This explains in part, why your green or white tea tends to have less caffeine than your black tea. The recommended steeping time for most green and white teas is 2-3 minutes, whereas black tea is typically steeped between 3-5 minutes.

How does tea compare with other sources of caffeine?

Due to the many factors contributing to the caffeine content, it is difficult to provide exact measurements. On average, however, an 8 oz cup of black tea has 85 mg caffeine and an 8 oz cup of green tea has 40-60mg of caffeine. In comparison, an 8 oz cup of drip coffee contains 135 mg, a 12oz can of Coke 34mg.

 Why does tea give me a lift and not a jolt?

The caffeine in tea is called theine (tay-eene) and metabolizes differently in the body than the caffeine in coffee. Researchers found, for example, that the high content of antioxidants found in tea slows the absorption of caffeine, resulting in a gentler effect that seems to last longer and does not end with the abrupt let-down often experienced with coffee.

Besides caffeine, tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine (L-tay ah neen). L-theanine is relaxing and counteracts the stimulating effects of caffeine by increasing those neurotransmitters in the brain whose overall effect is to quiet brain activity. Instead of getting the jitters, tea drinkers experience a sense of calm with improved brain function. Recent studies also show that L-theanine may help protect the liver, alleviate high blood pressure and improve immune system function.

Are decaffeinated teas better for me?

During the decaffeination process, the tea leaves are first moistened before the caffeine is extracted using a solvent. Ethyl acetate, methylene chloride, or highly pressurized carbon dioxide strips the caffeine from the leaves. To remove any solvent residues, the leaves are steamed and finally dried again. The decaffeination process greatly reduces the amount of caffeine, but won’t remove it completely. On average, a cup of decaffeinated tea still has 5mg caffeine.

Teas decaffeinated with the gentler CO2 method retain most of the health properties, but even here, some of the antioxidant properties may be lost.

In summary, caffeine consumed in moderation, is well tolerated by most people and may even provide benefits to health and wellbeing. For those, who must or want to avoid caffeine completely, we recommend herbal infusions, such as rooibos, chamomile, peppermint or lemon balm since herbals do not contain any caffeine at all.

Ref. Dr. Paul Holmgren, PhD, 



June 9, 2013

The Manly Tea List 2013

Filed under: Tea in Arizona — wbwingert @ 12:14 pm

In discussions with men about tea, I find that many of them are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the idea of drinking tea.  While in many of the world’s cultures tea is consumed by men, in the United   States, many men’s tea consumption is limited to ice tea at their favorite Mexican restaurant.  Perhaps it is the image of women in frilly dresses sitting around a plate of tiny sandwiches and cups trimmed with flowers and pastel colors.  Or, it could be the images of coffee conjured by TV crime shows, the wild west and old WWII movies are more compelling than tea. Whatever the reason, some men don’t think tea is “manly”.

I must admit that I used to be non-tea drinker.  However, after three years in Japan and my experiences with the varieties of teas from around the world, I have a new view of tea.  There are several attractions to tea from a male point of view.

  • There are many teas that have the bold flavor and body to stand up to coffee
  • There are teas whose flavors are more subtle, but nonetheless interesting
  • Teas offer benefits beyond the taste (health, smell, looks, etc)
  • Teas, like wines, are great companions to food

In convincing non-tea drinking men to try tea I have compiled a list of those teas that seem to appeal to them.  This list is known as the “Manly Tea list”.


  1. Lapsong Souchong – This black tea has a smoky campfire-like flavor from the drying process.   Think single malt scotch or a fine cigar
  2. Green Menthos –  a mild green tea flavored with mint.  It is refreshing hot or cold and requires no sugar.  A great introduction to green teas
  3. Gen Mai Cha – a Japanese blend of green tea with toasted rice kernels.  It has a great full body and served as a coffee substitute for me while living in Japan
  4. Earl Grey – 3 words – Jean Luc Picard
  5. Gunpowder – A great way to try a straight green tea, named for its tightly rolled leaf.  Plus what manly man wouldn’t like something with the word “gun” in it!
  6. Mount Everest Breakfast – A black tea with Assam and Keemun – easier to drink then to climb it!
  7. Pu-Erh mini-Touchas – this tea comes in cake form.  It has an earthy smell, medium body, and a unique taste.  Not for the faint of heart!
  8. Morning After – detoxifying herbal blend with a touch of mint.  Cleanse and sooth your system after poker night!
  9. Tiramasu Marscapone – Ok, I know this does not sound manly but this Rooibos makes a great finish after a meal, it has no calories, caffeine and won’t add to your waistline
  10. Vithanakanda – A Sri Lankan tea that goes great with milk and sugar.  Dark in the cup like coffee… No one will know you have switched!  A stealth tea!

So, be a man and give tea a try!