decaf tea

Does decaf tea have caffeine? Well, it depends

With more and more people becoming health-conscious today, decaffeinated tea or decaf tea is gaining increasing popularity among tea lovers.

Many fitness conscious people today want to cut down on their caffeine intake since they want to minimize the adverse effects which a high intake of caffeine might have. Decaf tea proves to be a good option in such cases.

However, a there is a lot of debate regarding the actual caffeine content in decaf tea.

There is a common misconception that decaf tea is completely caffeine free. Hence many people wanting to avoid caffeine are going for the decaf tea. On the other hand, there are others who believe that decaf tea contains caffeine.

Now, you might be left wondering ‘does decaf tea really contain caffeine?’

Well, in order to know about the caffeine content in decaf tea, you should have a clear understanding of what exactly decaf tea is. People today have various misconceptions regarding decaf tea. Hence, they also don’t have a clear understanding about its caffeine content.

We are here to provide you with a detailed understanding of decaf tea and its caffeine content.

What is decaf tea?

If you are looking for something completely caffeine free, then decaf tea is not an option.

Decaf tea does contain some amounts of caffeine.

Caffeine is naturally found in the Camellia Sinensis plant. Hence, no tea leaf can actually be caffeine free.

coffee plant

However, the levels of caffeine can be reduced considerably through specialized treatments, and that is exactly what is done in the case of decaf tea.

According to law, decaf tea must have less than 2.5% of the original caffeine which the tea leaves had.

So then what is the bottom line?

Decaffeinated tea is that type of tea which contains minimal amounts of caffeine. The tea leaves undergo a process during which most of the caffeine is removed from the leaves.

Caffeine content in decaf tea

An eight-ounce cup of decaf tea will contain about 5 mg of caffeine on an average which is much less than your usual cup of tea. A decaffeinated black tea bag contains anything between 4-6 mg of caffeine. A decaffeinated green tea bag will contain even lesser caffeine, around 2-4 mg per tea bag.

decaffeinated tea bag

However, the amount of caffeine in decaf tea also varies greatly according to the decaffeination process.

How is tea decaffeinated?

Tea can be decaffeinated several ways. Previously toxic chemicals were also used for tea decaffeination. Those methods have however been banned.

Let us take a look at the four main methods of tea decaffeination.

  • By using carbon dioxide:

Pressurised liquid carbon dioxide is used to extract the small molecules of caffeine from the tea leaves. This removes much of the caffeine.

It even gets better; only the larger molecules which are left behind impart flavor to the tea.

  • By using ethyl acetate:

If the tea leaves are soaked in ethyl acetate then it removes most of the caffeine from it. However, this method takes away much of the flavor from the tea.

  • By using methylene chloride:

Methylene chloride also removes much of the caffeine from tea leaves if they are soaked in it. However, this is not a safe method since methylene chloride is not considered safe for consumption.

  • Water processing method:

A combination of very hot water over 100 ⁰C and a 1:20 ratio of water to tea leaves are used to extract caffeine from the tea leaves. The treatment is continued for about 3 minutes. In this method, a carbon filter is used through which hot water is passed.

Is decaf tea good for your health?

You might be wondering whether drinking decaf tea can really prove beneficial for your health.

Tea is one of the most loved beverages. Tea lovers enjoy the rich flavors and aroma of tea leaves.

And, want to know the best part?

Research has shown that tea has a number of health benefits. The polyphenols or flavonoids present in tea are rich in antioxidants which have a variety of health benefits.

However, the decaffeination process removes much of the polyphenols from the tea leaves. Hence, the decaf tea loses much of its health benefits. The process also removes much of the flavor from the tea.

And, it gets even worse; the decaffeination process using methylene chloride is said to leave some amount of chemicals on the tea leaves which can have adverse effects on health. The water and carbon dioxide methods are said to be much safer.

So, then what’s the bottom line?

Decaf tea is a good option if you want to limit your caffeine intake. However, there is a lot of debate regarding the health benefits of tea decaffeinated by the chemical processes. It is said that the method strips the tea of much of its health benefits.

The water method is considered the best, and tea decaffeinated by this method retains much of its health benefits.

Should you go for decaf tea?

People with very low caffeine tolerance can feel the side effects of caffeine even with very low doses.

Decaf tea is not completely caffeine free. Hence, people with very low caffeine tolerance should definitely think twice before purchasing decaf tea.

In case you are able to tolerate minimal amounts of caffeine, then you can definitely give decaf tea a try. The minimal amounts of caffeine in decaf tea ensures that you don’t have too much of caffeine side effects like restlessness, insomnia or jitteriness.

decaf tea leaves

However, if you want to completely avoid caffeine then decaf tea is not an option.

You can go for the various herbal teas which are available today. These teas are made from herbs and are completely caffeine free.

herbal tea


So then the final word on decaf tea would be that it does contain some amount of caffeine. However, here’s the deal for those of you who intend to buy it nevertheless.

Purchase decaf tea, but ensure that you have looked into the decaffeination process which it has undergone before buying it just like the purchase of decaf coffee. The ones treated by the water or carbon dioxide methods are the best ones to go for.

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