"True" TEAS

  What Are The Typical Caffeine Levels Found In Tea - Sedona Arizona's Full-Leaf Tea Store
The term “tea" is normally separated into 2 main types: "true tea" and herbals.
Caffeine is found in all “true tea", that is, leaves that are picked and processed from the tea plant called Camellia Sinensis. However, caffeine is rarely found in herbal tea (mate’ from South America is one exception). Herbal teas, also called tisanes, generally include caffeine-free blends of herbs, botanical plants, flowers, roots, or fruits that are brewed like tea and called “tea". But herbal teas are not technically tea from one of the varieties of the tea plant. Maybe we’ll be able to focus on them in a future newsletter.
There are also decaffeinated teas with leaves that are harvested from the Camelia Sinensis plant, but undergo processing that greatly reduces their caffeine levels. The process is either chemical (which often reduces the aroma and taste), or a newer and slightly more expensive process using CO2/carbon dioxide steam. The CO2 process preserves much more of the original aroma and taste. In either case, both processes remove approximately 97% of the caffeine, but leave some trace amount.
Many visitors to our tea shop have arrived with the impression that the color of the brewed tea and the tea leaves indicates the level of caffeine. They have incorrectly heard that green or white tea is low or no caffeine, and that black tea has the most caffeine, and oolongs are somewhere in the middle with moderate caffeine levels. It is not true that the lighter or darker color of tea reveals the caffeine level.
Instead, brewed green and white teas overall have a pale color and light taste because they are lightly oxidized. Less oxidation means that the leaves, through processing, drying and rolling, were given less time for the leaves' enzymes to react with the oxygen in the air.  Usually just a couple hours.  Conversely, black teas are given much more time to oxidize and deepen the color and taste, as much as 20-30 hours.  Oolongs get approximately half a day (with sometimes a much more complex process). Many of you have heard us in the store using the analogy with an apple, cut and then left on the kitchen counter. The apples' enzymes combine with the air to darken it. But, if you slice the apple and heat it in an oven enough, the temperature deactivates the enzymes, halts oxidation permanently, which leads to little to no color change. Tea processing works the same way.
So after all that, how does the caffeine level of each category of tea compare on average?
Caffeine-Level - 8oz serving
  • Tippy leaf (buds) green teas    16-30 mg
  • Larger leaf green teas              27-33 mg
  • White teas                                18-20 mg
  • High grade oolongs                 16-30 mg
  • Lower grade oolongs               15-19 mg
  • Black teas                                19-32 mg
  • Puers (aged teas)                     18-30 mg
  • Matcha (powdered green tea)  68-70 mg  Ingesting the whole leaf, not just brew
  • Regular drip coffee                   130-135 mg

Caffeine levels in tea can be influenced by the tea master in the following ways:

  • The season the tea is picked: early spring leaf development tends to produce higher caffeine levels, late spring to fall is more average
  • Tea buds (young unopened leaves) often have slightly more caffeine than leaves.  The plant itself supplies extra nutrients to new tea buds to support the newest growth, including extra caffeine.  The extra caffeine is a pest repellent, naturally produced by the plant.
  • Elevation of the tea garden or estate, horticulture conditions such as temperature, rainfall, humidity, sunlight and wind, and terroir such as the makeup of the soil, affects caffeine
  • Picking (or pluck) position on the plant’s branch: younger end leaves and bud higher caffeine, lower larger/older leaves less caffeine
  • General quality of the leaves before picking can impact the caffeine level
  • Specific cultivated strain or sub-variety of the Camellia Sinensis plant that is used

Caffeine level in a cup of tea can be affected by the brewing process:

  • Tea blended and flavored with other additives/ingredients, like chai, usually have lower caffeine levels compared to pure tea.
  • Water temperature affects the amount of caffeine released from the leaf during each brew.  Namely, boiling water releases more caffeine fast (like when brewing black tea), whereas lower temperature (like brewing green tea) releases less.  
  • Additional infusions will eventually release all the leaf’s potential caffeine.
  • Brew time can affect caffeine, depending on which infusion. First infusions with long brew times like 5 minutes can release most of the caffeine in the leaf.  Short brews like 1 minute release about 40-50% less and take more infusions to release all the potential caffeine.

Most people feel the caffeine in tea does not make them jittery like caffeine in coffee. In another article we can reveal the substance naturally found in tea (and not in coffee) that is usually the cause of that, and makes tea even more special.

Let us know if this helps your understanding, and if you have any questions.

  Trailhead Tea:   Sedona & Northern Arizona's Full-Leaf Tea Department Store 
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Red Rock Prickly Pear

Sedona’s local tea. A great quality BLACK TEA from China, then flavored with actual dried fruit bits and extracts of the Arizona Prickly Pear Cactus.

Tea-Of-The-Month-Club is a variable selection, offered for only $3, to any web order over $40

Tea-Of-The-Month-Club is a variable selection, offered for only $3, to any web order over $30.

Teapot Trail Earl Grey Lavender

An aromatherapy twist from the traditional version of Earl Grey. Premium BLACK TEA from Sri Lanka blended with lavender flowers, orange peels, natural bergamot oil, blue cornflowers, and natural cream flavor.

Secret Canyon Spice

BLACK TEA BLEND with a BIG natural sweet and spicy cinnamon taste and aroma, and hints of orange.

Sedona Morning (rum/cream)

Rum/Cream BLACK TEA BLEND that contains coconut shreds, wild strawberry leaves, natural cream flavor, and safflower petals. Trailhead Tea’s flagship blend.

Baldwin Trail Mango Pomegranate

BLACK TEA BLEND with mango, pomegranate, and Dragon fruit

Sedona Wedding

How about chocolate dipped strawberry tea? BLACK TEA from Sri Lanka blended with rose petals, natural chocolate flavor, natural strawberry flavor, cocoa nibs, dark chocolate chips, and strawberries.

Wild Lapsang Souchong Unsmoked Tongmu Mtn

This UNSMOKED LAPSANG SOUCHONG is a low production/small batch BLACK TEA acquired direct from producer located in the Zheng Yan Circle Mountain area of Wuyishan, China

Anxi Hairy Crab/Mao Xie

An uncommon, low-production, specialty tea - but still affordable for every day use. Mao Xie is 100% OOLONG TEA called Hairy Crab, from the village of Da Ping, Anxi County, in the Fujian Province of China... (more below)

Three Sisters White GOP

Premium WHITE TEA from the Fujian Province of China, blended with GOP (ginger root, orange peel, peach pieces), and also adding marigold and safflowers, & natural ginger orange peach extracts.

Cream Oolong

Higher grade Tie Guan Yin OOLONG TEA leaves from Anxi County, Fujian Province, China, which are rolled into lightly oxidized dark green pellets, unusually bathed in real rich cream, then specially dried to preserve. See below for details.

Earl Grey (back)

The most familiar and traditional blend of all flavored teas. Ceylon BLACK TEA from Sri Lanka blended with orange peels, natural bergamot oil, and blue cornflowers.

On Sale at Trailhead Tea

2009 Ancient Hubei Large Tea Brick

Compressed Hubei Black Tea Brick, known as Mǐ Zhūan Chá (米磚茶). The brick features Chinese markings on both sides, and scored to allow breaking into 16 equal sections. They make great decorative display gifts for the tea lover. Tea bricks were often used o
$40.00 $30.00

AZ Cypress Citron Green

This GREEN TEA BLEND from China using flavors of lemon, lime and orange.

Aged Shou Mei Zhenghe White (Off-Trail White)

This 2013 slightly aged SHOU MEI White Tea is from Zhenghe County, Fujian Province, China where the large leaf white cultivar Da Bai is renown. It was harvested and processed on April 15th, 2013… traditionally after the Silver Needle and Bi Mu Dan harvest

Mi Xiang Hong Cha, Yunnan Honey Black Tea

100% BLACK TEA, identified by its abundance of golden tips, and cocoa and black pepper note. It will not taste bitter when over-steeped. Creamy and sweet, with pleasant pepper notes becoming earthier and more layered as it cools.

Blue Moon Blueberry

Caffeine-free HIBISCUS-BLUEBERRY FRUIT BLEND also contains rose hips, apple pieces, dried blueberry and natural blueberry flavor.

Dragon Phoenix Jasmine Pearls, Organic Nonpareil

100% Organic nonpareil (highest) grade GREEN TEA. It’s only jasmine scented since jasmine does not actually touch the green tea leaves. These are full two leaves and an unopened bud attached leaf sets, that are carefully jasmine flower scented than rolled

Masala Chai

Traditional Indian spicy chai taste from a Ceylon BLACK TEA BLEND flavored with cardamom pods, ginger root, cloves, natural cinnamon flavor and cinnamon bark.

Peach Oolong

A very popular taste combination. Premium OOLONG TEA from Taiwan blended with natural peach flavor, apple pieces, marigold flowers, and apricots.

Sencha, Fukamushi (Deep Steam)

This Japanese GREEN TEA is produced from blending 1st and 2nd harvest leaves, and specifically grown in Shizuoka, about 90 miles southwest of Tokyo and not far from Mount Fuji. This is the classic Japanese tea which constitutes over 80% of tea consumption

Black Dragon Pearls

100% BLACK TEA from the Yunnan Province in southern China boardering Vietnam. Comprised of only the highest quality leaves and buds, mostly attached sets, rolled into a large pearl shape which unfurl while brewing. Subtle cocoa notes.

Boynton Trail Assam

Bold, brisk, powerful BLACK TEA from the Meleng Estate, Assam region of India. A burgundy-red liquor, smooth astringency, and malty with notes of raisin. It is quite traditional to take with milk and honey or sugar, since the tea stands up.