St Patrick's Day sale, 15% off all green tea this week!

Can caffeine be rinsed from tea?

by Niraj Lama March 31, 2015 0 Comments

A quick rinse of the tea leaf once before making a cup can reduce the caffeine content of the tea. True or false?

If you are a caffeine-sensitive person who loves tea, you might often have been offered this work-around -  rinse the leaves for a quick 30 seconds, and only then use the leaf to make your cup.

Turns out this prescription is erroneous.

I was recently asked again about this practice by a customer, and it was a bit frustrating that I did not know the answer for sure.

Turns out a quick rinse only makes a negligible difference in reducing caffeine from tea.

So I turned to the experts, and I was pleased that Nigel Melican, a tea industry veteran, founder of US League of Tea Growers and currently holder of the honorary chair at the Tea Research Association of India, decided to help me with the answer by pointing out to an article he had written exactly on the same question nearly eight years ago.

Referring to a 1996 scientific study done in Canada, published in Food Research International Vol 29, Melican asserted that the scientists had studied the caffeine extraction in tea and the results were very different than that proffered by "common wisdom."

Authors of the research Monique Hicks, Peggy Hsieh and Leonard Bell had used the High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) method to study the precise time related extraction of caffeine from tea leaf. They used six different teas, including black, green and oolong, three in teabags and three in loose leaf form. The results were published in a peer-reviewed paper, "Tea preparation and its influence on methylxanthine concentration," tea caffeine being one of the prominent methylxanthines.

The results that emerged from the study were as follows.

30 seconds: 9% caffeine removal

1 minute: 18% caffeine removal

2 minutes: 34% caffeine removal

3 minutes: 48% caffeine removal

4 minutes: 60% caffeine removal

5 minutes: 69% caffeine removal

10 minutes: 92% caffeine removal

15 minutes: 100% caffeine removal

This meant that a 30 seconds quick rinse would still leave 91% of caffeine in the leaf. And if you wanted to cut the caffeine strength by half you would have to steep at least 3-4 minutes. Needless to say there would be no "tea" left if the tea was rinsed for 3 minutes! And if you had to get rid of all the caffeine, it seems you'd have to steep for 15 minutes. To make tea after a 15 minutes steep would be a case of dead-on-arrival.

Melican looked at more other studies and they all pointed to the same thing.

The "myth" of getting rid of caffeine from tea by a quick rinse is persistent.

So this practice of rising tea to reduce caffeine is as Melican puts it nothing but an "internet myth". It does sound plausible when you hear it first. But in the light of scientific research it has been proved to be an erroneous idea, just like the other persistent one that black tea has more caffeine than green or white tea.

Niraj Lama
Niraj Lama


Also in Tea 101

Health benefits of Darjeeling tea

by Niraj Lama February 24, 2015 0 Comments

Darjeeling tea, like all other teas, possess beneficial catechins and flavonoids that make up the antioxidants in tea.  Black, oolong, green and white teas all possess powerful antioxidants which offer protective and curative properties.

Read More

Gong Fu Cha and using Yixing Zisha Tea Pot

by Niraj Lama July 20, 2014 0 Comments

I've put this video together mainly for our customers who have seen me serve tea using our Yixing tea pots and bought the pots to try at home. I have tried to keep it simple - just showing you the basic steps for multiple steeping of tea, a style known as Gong Fu cha in China and Taiwan. The term "Gong Fu" - same as Kung Fu, which many of us are familiar with - means anything that is coducted with great effort or skill. "Cha" is tea in Chinese.
Oolongs and puerh teas are best brewed in this method. However, we have also tried Darjeeling with fairly pleasing results. Actually,  if you have the patience you might be able to brew any kind of tea using this method! Remember this is a matter of "great effort".

Read More

The benefits of L-theanine in tea

by Niraj Lama July 18, 2014 0 Comments

What is it in tea that wakes us up, yet calms us down at the same time? Have you considered how special is that effect of tea? A nation might "run" on coffee, but wouldn't it be better to run on clarity or tranquility?

Read More