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Tea: To Decaf Or Not To Decaf ?

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All teas in their natural form contain caffeine. Beware of tea labelled caffeine-free because it is a myth. Decaffeinated tea still contains some caffeine.

There are 3 methods for decaffeinating tea.

  • Solvent extraction using ethyl acetate
  • Carbon Dioxide in the supercritical state
  • Methylene Chloride (banned in the US)

The first two are safe for consumption, the second method being the better of the two as it maintains more of the health benefits and flavour. As a whole decaffeinated teas will have less beneficial components than non-decaffeinated ones.

The best way to decaffeinate tea is to do it yourself in the comfort of your home. The first brew has the most caffeine, ditch the first brew, then steep as you normally would. This eliminates caffeine, at the expense of some of the flavour. Although it is impossible to gauge how much caffeine remains, rest assured it will be less than what you started with. This method will also work with tea bags, but the results may be inconsistent as tea bags have a greater surface area and will infuse quicker, therefore releasing all the flavour at once, leaving you with a limp brew.

Coffee has less caffeine than tea? That is true, if both are in dry form only. Generally, 100g of tea gives you 40 cups and 100g coffee which gives you approximately 11 cups. In other words, more coffee is needed to brew a cup.

The next time you see decaffeinated tea, find out what process was used to decaffeination.  Be a smart consumer. Instead of reaping the benefits of drinking tea, you are fuelling yourself with unwanted chemicals which may be causing more harm than good.