The question of caffeine

All true tea (camellia sinensis) contains a little caffeine in its leaves, but the closer your tea is to its natural whole-leaf version, the less caffeine will find it's way into your cup. As a nation we have become very interested in caffeine, especially because of the noticeable effects it can have on us when consumed in espresso-based drinks.

More and more people are noticing the negative side effects of overindulgence; problems with digestion, energy slumps and erratic sleep patterns. So how is it that our teas, though they carry small quantities of caffeine, don't produce the strong adverse reactions many people have when they drink strong coffee or too many cups of teabag tea? In fact, quite the opposite, people find they can happily drink them all day, feel fantastic and stay energised and focused without the crash and have a great night's sleep.

It should be noted at this point that caffeine in small quantities is actually thought to be very beneficial to health, stimulating the respiratory & central nervous systems, promoting better general wellness & increased concentration.

Recent research has concluded that it is difficult to pin down specific values for caffeine content in tea. Although it is generally thought that the more processed the tea, the more caffeine it releases into the cup, there have been many proven exceptions to this rule. It seems to also depend on different soils, climates, times of year, in fact, the same tea may even vary from harvest to harvest.

So to look at why people seem to thrive on our teas, we need to take 3 additional things into consideration;

Firstly, all tea contains a unique amino acid, L-theanine, thought to have a direct calming effect on the brain without inducing drowsiness. These relaxing qualities are thought to help the body react more gently to caffeine, whilst still keeping the mind alert. There has been some research to suggest that beverages containing L-theanine in addition to caffeine may have a different pharmacological profile to those containing caffeine alone. This might explain the jittery reaction many people get from coffee caffeine as L-theanine is not present in the coffee bean & the caffeine levels are invariably higher.

Secondly, caffeine contained in tea is believed to bind with the tea polyphenols (antioxidants also present in the tea leaves) whilst steeping, resulting in a slower more soothing uptake through the digestive system, preventing the over- stimulating ‘caffeine rush’, while still providing the positive alertness.

Finally, and most importantly, the way we suggest you choose and brew your teas reduces the daily caffeine intake to its optimum level. Our teas are all hand-picked and hand-crafted so in their natural whole leaf form. A teabag version from the supermarket would contain around 4 times the amount of leaf and thus 4 times the amount of caffeine before you have even got started. In a teabag, it is chopped very small to brew very quickly. This tends to mean you steep it for a very short time and with caffeine being one of the most water-soluble things in the leaf, you tend to end up with a strong cup of caffeine without much else having had time to steep out (this can also be true with green tea teabags). You then throw away the bag and start the process again when you fancy another cuppa, spiking caffeine hits throughout the day.

With our whole-leaf teas, they take much longer to brew, ensuring all the other positive nutrients have time to steep into the cup and then by suggesting you re-steep those same leaves over and over, the water-soluble caffeine will have mainly come out in the first cup making the re-steeps super low in caffeine content.