The Amount of Caffeine in Black Tea versus Coffee

Caffeine is a pesticide that occurs naturally in tea, coffee and some other plant species including yerba mate, kola nuts, and cocoa. Caffeine is a chemical belonging to a group of chemicals called xanthine family. Caffeine is highly soluble in water and produces an infusion with a bitter taste. Coffee and tea are known to be the major dietary source of caffeine across the globe. When consumed in moderation, caffeine has beneficial aspects on the human body. It improves alertness, stimulates metabolism and improves mood by increasing the amount of dopamine in the body’s circulation.

Tea leaves have higher amounts of caffeine than coffee beans

Many people believe that coffee contains more caffeine than tea. However, the reverse is true. Based on dry matter, tea leaves have a higher caffeine content than an equal amount of coffee beans. The foliage of Camellia sinensis,the tea plant has more caffeine than the beans of any species of coffee plant. However, when brewed for consumption, coffee has higher caffeine that steeped tea.

Brewed coffee has higher caffeine content than steeped tea

When brewed, a cup of coffee has a higher concentration of caffeine than a cup of tea. Coffee is a stronger drink compared to tea, which is mild. Comparing the two beverages, coffee appears darker while you can see the bottom of a cup containing black tea. Coffee contains about double the amount of caffeine in tea. The caffeine content in coffee as a beverage is between 95 and 200 mg per cup. In black tea, it is between 14 and 70 mg per cup.

Factors that influence the amount of caffeine in coffee

  • Type of coffee beans

There are different varieties of coffee beans available in the market. The coffee varieties naturally differ in the amounts of caffeine they contain. The Robusta coffee concentrates roughly twice the amount of caffeine in Arabica variety.

  • Roasting style

Coffee that undergoes light roasting contains more concentration of caffeine than coffee that undergoes dark roasting. However, dark roasts yield a deep coffee flavor.

  • Type of coffee

The levels of content differ significantly among the different kinds of coffee,i.e., Regular brewed coffee, instant coffee, decaf coffee, and espresso.

  • Brewed coffee/Regular coffee

Brewed coffee is the most common coffee way of making coffee. Here hot or boiling water is poured over ground coffee beans held in a sieve. The amount of caffeine in a cup (8 oz.) of brewed coffee ranges from 70 – 140 mg.

  • Espresso

Preparation of espresso entails forcing a small volume of hot water through finely crushed coffee beans. Espresso contains more caffeine per volume compared to brewed coffee. Because of the small servings, espresso may have low amounts of caffeine per serving. A single shot of espresso (30 – 50 ml or 1 – 1.75 oz.) may concentrate about 63 mg of caffeine.

  • Instant coffee

Preparation of instant coffee involves dissolving in hot water brewed coffee that has been freeze-dried. A cup of instant coffee may dissolve one or two teaspoons of dried coffee in hot water. Instant coffee has lower caffeine levels than regular coffee. A cup can contain about 30 – 90 mg caffeine content.

  • Decaf coffee

The name may be misleading because decaf coffee is not absolutely caffeine free. A cup of decaf coffee may concentrate about 0 – 7 mg of caffeine. However, this amount can go higher depending on the method of decaffeination, type of coffee and serving size.

  • Serving size

A cup of coffee can contain 30 – 700ml of coffee, which affects the cumulative amount of caffeine in a serving.

Factors that impact the amount of caffeine in tea

  • Region of cultivation

Where tea is grown has a significant impact on the amount of caffeine in tea leaves. The region, soil condition, climate, and pests can affect the amount of caffeine in tea leaves. Caffeine is a natural pest repellant, and some theories claim that stress caused by pest can stimulate the production of more caffeine by a plant.

  • Type of tea

Black tea can contain between 14 and 17 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. cup.

Contrary to the popular notion, decaffeinated tea is not entirely caffeine free. The caffeine content in decaffeinated black tea can range from 0 – 12 mg per 8 oz. cup.

  • Brewing style

The brewing techniques and styles have a significant influence on the levels of caffeine in tea. The water temperature and brewing time affect the caffeine content in your cup of tea. Using very hot or boiling water and soaking tea leaves for an extended period yields more caffeine. Your tea infusion will have little caffeine levels when you use water at a lower temperature and soak leaves for a short time.

Caffeine in tea varies a bit. The longer you steep tea or tea bag in hot water, the more caffeine in your drink. On average black tea contains about 22 to 28mg of caffeine per gram of dried matter. The FDA quantifies as 47mg/8 oz. the amount of caffeine in tea.

  • Ratio of tea leaves to water

The higher the ratio of tea leaves to water, the more caffeine content in your cup of tea.

  • Tea variety

The amount of caffeine in tea differs with the tea type. The assamica has higher levels of caffeine than any other kind of tea. The white tea varieties contain lower amounts of caffeine.

  • Tea grown in shade

Tea grown under shady conditions often has higher amounts of caffeine than tea grown in open sunlight.

  • Level of grinding

Powdered tea is usually high in caffeine. The reason is you consume the whole leaf instead of leaf infusion. Partakers consume all the caffeine in the leaf rather than a portion of it.

Broken tea leaves will yield more caffeine into your infusion compared to whole leaves. Tea bags, for example, contain crushed leaves, and thus they tend to impart higher amounts of caffeine in tea.

  • Method of fertilization

Fertilization with nitrogenous fertilizer increases the amount of caffeine in the leaves of tea.

  • Tea leaves vs. buds

The levels of caffeine are higher in the buds of tea plants and the young first leaf. The concentrations progressively decrease as you move from the bud towards the stem of the plant. Tea processed wholly from the buds of tea plant contains a higher percentage of caffeine than tea from the third or fourth leaves.

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