Does green tea have caffeine? The answer is yes.
But before you snap your fingers and opt for a different beverage, let’s cover the question more fully; there are nuances to green tea of which you may not be aware.
Your typical green tea has between 24 and 45mg (milligrams per 8-ounce cup) of caffeine. Compare that to black tea (which comes from the same plant; the difference is how the leaves are processed that makes black tea black), which contains 14 to 70mg. Steep time affects how much caffeine stays in your cup. Then compare these to coffee at 95 to 200 mg of caffeine.
1. Less Caffeine
If your aim is to reduce caffeine intake, green tea is an easy switch. It can be drunk hot or cold, sweetened or not. If you replace one cup of coffee with one cup of green tea, you’ve reduced the amount of caffeine you would have ingested by two thirds.
2. Breathe Easier
In addition to caffeine, green tea contains two alkaloids called theobromine and theophylline that are similar in molecular structure and noticeable effect as caffeine. Theobromine stimulates the heart and is a mild diuretic. It is the stimulant naturally found in cocoa as well. Toxic to dogs, theobromine has been found to be an effective cough suppressant because it soothes the muscles of the respiratory system. Theophylline also relaxes bronchial muscles, making it easier to breathe.
3. Improved Cognitive Functions
Amino acid L-theanine is unique to tea. It has been shown to have a significant effect on mental arousal and alertness. This amino acid increases serotonin and dopamine (the happy neurotransmitters) in the brain, providing protection and enhancing cognition, memory, and learning. L-theanine combined with caffeine brings out the best in both: L-theanine moderates the mental fatigue and crash of caffeine and caffeine accentuates the mental alertness effect of L-theanine.
4. No Coffee Jitters
Some people are sensitive to caffeine, like any other substance. There are physiological benefits to caffeine that green tea can offer with nutritional benefits that may offset any unwanted consequences of caffeine. Cutting caffeine way down rather than out may be an option, especially in the case of green tea’s L-theanine. Add the high antioxidant content and this mildly caffeinated tea may be just the right stimulant without the coffee jitters.
5. Powerful Benefits
Green tea is a natural antibiotic and the chlorophyll that makes it green is a natural breath freshener. Green tea’s gentle stimulants boost metabolism and can be a help with weight loss. Its antioxidants are anti-inflammatories that have been found to decrease the risk of heart disease.
The less a food is processed, the better. This is no less true for green tea. Japanese green tea is often treated with fluoride and we don’t want that. Brew your own for best quality, choosing loose tea or tea in bags that haven’t been chemically treated.
There are conflicting opinions for brew time and temperature for green tea; it seems the consensus is that a short steep time (one minute) in water that’s been boiled and left to cool for three minutes will retain the mild flavor, while a longer steep time in boiling water releases more of the polyphenols (antioxidants) in green tea so you get the greater nutrition. Can’t go wrong either way.
6. Decaffeinated Green Tea
There are varieties of decaffeinated green tea if you want to completely eliminate caffeine, however, be wary: most “decaffeinated” teas become so by being treated with ethyl acetate. Other teas are decaffeinated using a process called “effervescence” in which the tea leaves are suffused with carbon dioxide and water to extract the caffeine. The best alternative is to simply boil regular green tea for three minutes–it will remove eighty to eighty-five percent of the caffeine from the leaves. Note that decaffeinating tea reduces its nutritional content as well.
Green tea is definitely your friend. If you can take its low caffeine content, you can also enjoy the whole-health benefits of this remarkable plant.