Green tea originates from China and Japan and has been drunk there for hundreds of years, valued for its taste as much as for its health benefits. One thing that leads people to hesitate before diving into that cup of green tea is that they are afraid of the amount of caffeine it contains. There are, however, ways to reduce this while still enjoying your favorite drink!
A Look at Caffeinated Drinks
To give you an idea of where green tea stands in regard to caffeine, it is good to compare it to other caffeinated drinks. You might be surprised at how much of a difference there is!
So here’s where green tea stands in relation to other kinds of teas as well as coffee and cola:
- Green tea (1 cup) = 25mg (though this can vary)
- Black tea (1 cup) = 16-25 mg
- White tea (1 cup) = 6-25mg
- Coffee (1 cup) = 100-150mg
- Cola (1 can) = 30-60mg
Generally speaking, green tea is going to give you less caffeine than colas and coffees or coffee-based drinks. But it might come as a surprise to learn that even different brands of green tea can have a different caffeine content. For instance, Stash Green Tea clocks in at only 7.6mg per cup, but Lipton more than doubles that amount at 16.4 mg and Peet’s is even stronger at 33.4 mg.
Tips for Cutting Down on Caffeine in Green Tea
If you are really concerned about the amount of caffeine in your green tea, there are some ways that you can cut down on it without sacrificing quality or flavor. Here are some general ideas:
- Read your labels. As noted above, the brand you buy can make a big difference in regard to green tea caffeine levels.
- Keep L-theanine in mind. Green tea is a rich source of L-theanine. Why is this important? This amino acid acts as caffeine antagonist: in other words, rather than revving up your central nervous system like caffeine does, L-theanine calms it down, thus counter-acting the caffeine’s affects. This is probably why green tea drinkers report feeling energized but not jittery after their morning cup. Drinking your green tea while it is hot means that the L-theanine will have more of an effect.
- Know the type of tea you are drinking. Brand names are not the only issue here. It is also good to know what type of green tea your are drinking. Teas like matcha and gyokura green teas are highest in caffeine, while hougicha tea ranks near the bottom. Again, reading your labels can help you decide which type of green tea to opt for.
- Another good way to reduce the caffeine in your tea is to infuse the leaves for around 45 seconds, throw that water out, then start again with a fresh cup of hot water. This second infusion will not have as much caffeine as the first.
- Consider buying a good decaffeinated green tea. On average, this will have between 4 and 10mg of caffeine per serving. But be careful: read the label to make sure that your green tea has been de-caffeinated naturally through effervescence, of the use of carbonated water. Otherwise, it might have been decaffeinated with a chemical solvent called ethyl acetate — and this is not something you want to be drinking up.
Keep in Mind that Caffeine’s Not all Bad!
Before you get too wild about cutting down on the caffeine in green tea, though, keep in mind that it is not the scapegoat that many doctors once thought it was. It used to be that physicians would recommend cutting caffeine out of the diet for a wide variety of medical conditions, but later research has proven that this is not always the best thing to do.
As a matter of fact, there are some definite health benefits to caffeine: it has been shown to help protect the neurons of the brain from serious degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and it has also shown to be protective against certain forms of cancer, particularly of the breast, bladder and colon. Catechins — the best known of which is EGCG — have been shown to boost the metabolism and make it easier for the body to burn fat. Studies have also shown that it can help prevent heart disease. In short, there are some great reasons to consider allowing at least some caffeine into your diet: 300mg is the recommended daily allowance for an adult; this drops down to 200mg daily for pregnant women.
Tea and Coffee Infographic
To get a better visual on the comparisons between coffee and tea in regard to caffeine — as well as the health benefits it can bring you — check out the infographic below from courtesy of Greatist.com:
So whether you are trying to cut down on caffeine or simply enjoy one of the healthiest drinks on the planet, green tea is something you should definitely try to work into your daily routine!