Health enthusiasts who are cautious about their caffeine consumption may opt for decaffeinated tea as a substitute to the normal tea. But is the tea really without any caffeine?
While no longer drinking tea is a definitely a way to avoid that caffeine intake, with the consumption of decaffeinated tea, the question still lingers: whether the tea is actually 100% caffeine-free.
Though the belief is that decaffeinated tea is totally caffeine free, in truth, it actually does contain some caffeine. The caffeine content of normal tea is approximately about 3-5% though this varies depending on the season when the tea is picked, the planting methods used, steeping temperature, and several other factors. This percentage of caffeine is what the decaffeination process seeks to reduces to the very minimum, but it can never totally eliminate it.
A caffeine content of up to 0.5% is then considered to be “decaffeinated”. Most companies selling tea thus label their tea as “decaffeinated” knowing that the masses are not aware of this above-zero threshold.
De-decaffeinating at home
One at-home caffeine-reducing method that’s popular uses the infusion method as a way to decaffeinate tea before consumption. The process normally takes about 30-45 seconds to accomplish. While those using this method believe that they’ve reduce the caffeine significantly, in reality, the caffeine content has probably only been reduced by 9-12%. What this means is that 80% of the caffeine is still available for consumption after that initial infusion. A second round of infusion reduces the total amount of caffeine to around 75%, leaving over 60% still intact.
While it seems easier to just purchase of tea that is already been through decaffeination process, it too has its short-comings. Commercially decaffeinated tea tends to loose most of its beneficial components, like catechins and antioxidants in the process of decaffeination.
Yet another method to decaffeinate tea, known as effervescence, has been hailed as the sure way of decaffeinating tea. Since only water is used in the process, most of the important components–approximately 90%–are left in the tea. Though this method is popular and widely used, still the tea in final product contains some caffeine.
To think that “decaffeinated” Camellia sinensis tea is totally caffeine free translates to believing a myth. Therefore, the only sure way to avoid caffeine intake from tea is to avoid drinking tea altogether, or switch to an herbal infusion, and in doing so sacrifice many of the health benefits associated with Camellia sinensis tea.