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

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



Three Sisters White / Ginger Orange Peach

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.



Devil’s Bridge Green Jasmine Blend

Devil’s Bridge Green Jasmine Blend



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Red Rock Prickly Pear

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Our Family Blend (Black Cherry/Black Currant)

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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.



Anxi Hairy Crab/Mao Xie

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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




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



Goddess of Mercy / Tie Guan Yin

Goddess of Mercy / Tie Guan Yin from Trailhead Tea, Sedona Arizona's Full-Leaf Tea Department Store



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


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.



Brins Mesa Decaf Peach

DECAF (C02 process that preserves the aroma and taste, verses typical chemical decaf) BLACK TEA BLEND featuring Ceylon Black with natural peach flavoring, marigold flowers, apple pieces and apricots. Perfect for nighttime, seniors or children.



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.



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English Breakfast

100% BLACK TEA BLEND of four orthodox teas, to create a traditional yet more complex blend of these premium selections: desirable Yunnan & Keemum from China, bold Assam from India, and sweet Ceylon from Sri Lanka.




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100% MatCha, premium Sakura (Hikari cultivar) ceremonial grade of powdered green tea. From the historic tea gardens of Uji, Kyoto prefecture, Japan. Ceremonial grade is almost always prepared plain (no sweetener, milk or flavorings). SEE BELOW FOR DETAIL.