Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance found the beans, leaves and fruits of certain plants, where it protects the health of the plant and acts as a natural pesticide to ward of insects.
One of the benefits of tea drinking, at least for many of us, is that tea contains caffeine. In moderation, tea’s caffeine has many positive effects on the body and is considered a safe, natural and effective way to get a quick boost. The caffeine found in tea can increase mental alertness, improve muscle action, shorten reaction time, and stimulate the digestive system, kidneys and metabolism in ways that possibly help eliminate toxins.
Of course, for those who are sensitive to this substance, caffeine’s presence in tea might not be so welcome. Also, too much caffeine in the diet may cause restlessness, loss of appetite or difficulty sleeping.
Caffeine has acquired a negative (although unfair) reputation due to its overuse as well as its association with artificial energy drinks, sugary soft drinks, energy pills, diet pills and other medications. It is important to remember that caffeine found in tea is naturally occurring, and that the health benefits associated with this remarkable beverage have been enjoyed safely for thousands of years.
Tea is a great choice if you are looking for a low-caffeine drink.
In fact, a cup of black tea has about a third of the caffeine as a cup of coffee and a cup of green tea has less caffeine than a bar of dark chocolate.
It would take 15 cups of green tea to equal the 300 mg of caffeine per day considered moderate consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.
CAFFEINE AND TEA'S HEALTH BENEFITS
In fact, some people argue that caffeine plays a critical role in delivering many of tea’s health benefits. In other words, it seems that all the elements found in tea—including caffeine—must work together to maximize the healthy benefits associated with regular tea consumption.
For example, caffeine seems to work synergistically with tea’s antioxidants to possibly increase protection from cancer. Also, tea’s unique combination of caffeine and potent antioxidants appears to promote weight loss, increase metabolism, act as a mild appetite suppressant and prevent the accumulation of abdominal fat more than either of these substance could on their own. The International Journal of Obesity reports, “such a synergistic interaction between catechin-polyphenols (antioxidants) and caffeine to augment and prolong sympathetic stimulation of thermogenesis (an increase in metabolism) could be of value in assisting the management of obesity.” Researchers at the University of Florida suggest that tea and caffeine may help reverse memory problems associated with Alzheimers disease, but more research needs to be done in this area.
Tea is a great choice if you are looking for a low-caffeine drink. In fact, a cup of black tea has about a third of the caffeine as a cup of coffee and a cup of green tea has less caffeine than a bar of dark chocolate. It would take 15 cups of green tea to equal the 300 mg of caffeine per day considered moderate consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.
The caffeine in tea is gentle; many people sensitive to caffeine in coffee and soda can drink tea without a problem. Not only does tea contain less caffeine than many other beverages, the caffeine in tea actually works differently in the body because it binds with other components of the leaf (such as polyphenols), creating a slower and gentler release. Because the caffeine is released slowly, tea provides a gentle lift in energy, mood and concentration without the crash associated with coffee. The caffeine found in a cup of tea doesn’t appear to raise the heart rate or blood pressure the way that other forms of caffeine do. In addition, theanine (found almost exclusively in high-grade tea) counteracts the effects of caffeine by stimulating the production of alpha brain waves, which calms the body and promotes a state of relaxed awareness.
CAFFEINE-FREE VERSUS DECAFFEINATED
It is important to differentiate between “decaffeinated” and “100% caffeine-free.” Decaffeinated tea has gone through a chemical process in which most of the leaf’s natural caffeine has been removed, while 100% caffeine-free tea comes from plants that do not have any caffeine to begin with. For example, herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile and red tea are 100% caffeine free because they come from plants that do not contain caffeine.
As a general rule, Octavia Tea does not offer decaffeinated teas because commercial decaffeination processes (even those considered ‘natural’) use chemical solvents to strip the leaf of caffeine. Unfortunately, commercial decaffeination also removes much of tea’s flavor and health benefits. In fact, a 2003 study conducted by the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition found that decaffeinated tea contains only one third of the catechins (one of tea’s most potent antioxidants) found in regular tea. Another study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture showed similar results. Furthermore, because the decaffeination process greatly affects tea’s overall flavor, you will rarely see decaffeinated teas of high quality (it would simply be a waste because it would drastically lower the quality and flavor of high-grade tea).
Although we do not offer commercially decaffeinated teas, we do offer other options:
100% CAFFEINE-FREE TEAS
People sensitive to caffeine may wish to drink Octavia Tea's 100% caffeine-free alternatives such as red tea or chamomile. These herbal tea's soothing, calming properties are a wonderful choice for evening.
Caffeine-sensitive tea-drinkers can naturally decaffeinate their tea at home—using only hot water. Simply infuse tealeaves in hot water for 30 seconds or longer, discard liquid, add more hot water to the same leaves and steep again.
Please note: although following the steps above will lower the overall caffeine in your cup, results will vary and this method will never remove all of tea’s caffeine. Tea drinkers with extreme sensitivities, or those looking for a bedtime tea, should instead opt for 100% caffeine-free herbal alternatives such as red tea or chamomile.
Caffeine is a diuretic. However, the water consumed with tea more than replaces any fluids you lose due to the diuretic effect. Therefore, tea also provides a tasty way to increase water in your diet.
It is generally agreed that pregnant women and those trying to conceive should avoid consuming large quantities of caffeine. Because caffeine can enter breast milk, nursing mothers should also monitor caffeine intake.
After decades of controversy and conflicting evidence, there is still no official consensus on how much caffeine is too much during pregnancy. Many experts say that moderate levels of caffeine have not been found to have a negative effect on pregnancy and, fortunately, no studies have found a connection between caffeine and birth defects, low birth weight, a baby’s motor development or intelligence.
The March of Dimes advises women to limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day. Most doctors and health care professionals follow this general rule. As always, we recommend working with your doctor to determine what is best for you.
When estimating caffeine intake, remember to add in other sources of caffeine in your diet such as coffee, espresso, chocolate, soft drinks and medication. Red tea (or Rooibos) is often recommended for pregnant and nursing mothers. It contains many of the same antioxidants as green tea, but is 100% caffeine free.