I started drinking green tea when I gave up coffee, and loved how refreshing it felt to drink in the morning compared to the gluggy feeling I felt after a big cup of coffee. And green tea is widely known as a healthier alternative because of its extremely high levels of antioxidants. But one thing about green tea is concerning me a lot - its caffeine content.
You may be surprised to learn that green tea can contain almost as much caffeine as coffee! So you really need to be careful with what type of green tea you drink if you have a sensitivity to caffeine (and lets face it, most of us do).
I avoid caffeine because I know it increases the stress hormone cortisol in my body, meaning it can make me feel stressed. And I suffer on and off from insomnia so caffeine in my body is never a good idea.
First lets look at how much caffeine green tea can contain -
Pretty scary huh. But if you’re like me and you love green tea and you want to enjoy its health benefits, there are a few ways to minimize the amount of caffeine in the tea -
1. Don’t drink green tea out of a teabag
Loose leaf green tea contains less caffeine than a tea bag so invest in a teapot and start brewing your own. I have a couple of tiny ceramic teapots that are perfect for my own cup of tea in the morning. They only cost me about AU$20 each from a tea store so were a good investment. You can also find cheaper teapots in kitchen warehouses or even dollar stores.
2. Choose a green tea that is naturally less caffeinated
The larger the leaf the less caffeine the green tea contains so if you buy your tea from a specialty tea store that allows you to actually see the leaves before you buy, definitely opt for the larger leaf.
The terminal bud and the adjacent two leaves (called the tea flush) also contain the most caffeine so avoid those too if you can. You can tell the tea is made from this part of the leaf because it makes a much sweeter tea. Green tea leaves picked from the lower parts of the bush, such as Bancha green tea, have much less caffeine content than those picked from the higher parts.
Bancha green tea kind of means “common” green tea in Japan, so its popularity is similar to Orange Pekoe in North America and regular English tea in Australia.
3. Try the “brew it twice” method
I learned this technique from my sister. She loves drinking tea at night but doesn’t like it keeping her awake. So she brews a cup for 5 minutes, throws it away then brews another using the same teabag. 75% of the caffeine in the tea is in that first brew so even though this method makes a weaker taste, it contains a lot less caffeine.
4. Only drink green tea in the morning
There are many other teas that you can drink later on in the day. Rooibus is one of my favorites because it contains 0 caffeine but you can drink it with milk so it’s almost like drinking english tea. If you can find a specialty tea store near where you live, also have a look at the range of options they have. I found a delicious natural decaffeinated organic vanilla and nut tea in Canada that I used to drink with milk.
Organic is important
Tea plantations, especially green tea plantations are one of the most heavily sprayed with pesticides, so you want to only drink organic green tea. Non-organic will often contain residues of pesticides in the leaves which means you’ll be drinking a cup of green tea mixed with pesticides and water. Trust me, you don’t want these pesticides in your body because they can lead to a range of health problems including contributing to an overloaded liver and therefore worsening acne.
Luckily there are many organic green teas around. I’ve never had any problems finding organic every part of the world I’ve been to. The last box I bought was in the town of Vouliagmeni in Greece. There whole box was covered in Greek writing so I couldn’t understand it, except for the words “Green Tea” and “Organic”!