Does White Tea have Caffeine?

August 26 2022 – Diana L

Does white tea have caffeine?

Does white tea have caffeine?

It's well known that some tea contains caffeine, but we also know that some teas are caffeine-free. When choosing a type of tea, whether morning or night, the question of whether that cup of tea contains caffeine becomes very important. White tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant just as green and black tea, which you probably know contain caffeine, but does white tea have caffeine?

What is white tea?

White tea has been properly named white tea because the young leaves and buds harvested for white tea are covered in fine white hairs which protect the leaf. White tea is a popular selection for its light, delicate flavor and aroma along with many healthy benefits. But just because the flavor is light, does that mean it doesn't have caffeine?

Black tea, the most caffeinated tea, steeps out a dark cup with robust flavors, so it is natural to assume that bold flavor equals caffeine. (And in reverse, light flavor must mean the amount of caffeine is less.)

So does white tea have caffeine?

White tea is considered a true tea as it comes from the same plant as black and green tea. The delicate nature of white tea comes from the fact that white tea is the least processed of the three. All true teas contain caffeine, however at different levels:

White tea has the least amount with 6-55 milligrams of caffeine per eight ounces, while black tea ranges from 47-90 milligrams of caffeine per cup. Green tea falls in the middle with 30-70 milligrams.

The only naturally caffeine-free "teas" are tisanes, some herbal teas, or Rooibos, which comes from the Red Bush plant native to South Africa. Loose leaf white tea has less caffeine than white tea in tea bags because teabags are often filled with finely ground dust and fannings of the tea plant, not the carefully selected portion of the plant.

There are several factors affecting the level of caffeine in white tea:

What you can't control:

The part of the plant plucked: Young leaves contain more caffeine than mature leaves.

The harvest season: Summer harvested teas have higher caffeine than Winter harvests.

Leaf position: The first leaf closest to the bud contains 40% more caffeine than the leaf furthest away from the bud. Caffeine levels in the stems contain about 10-50% of the caffeine in the leaf.

Cultivation: Tea leaves that are harvested from cultivated plants tend to have more caffeine than plants grown in the wild.

Production Method: Contrary to what some think, oxidation does not affect the level of caffeine significantly. Green, oolong, black, and white teas have different levels of oxidation, yet all four contain caffeine. However, the process tea undergoes to halt oxidation removes caffeine from the leaves. 

 

What you can control:

Type of white tea: Tea made from just the buds of the tea plant, such as Silver Needle tea, has the least caffeine.

Steeping Temperature: Steeping white tea over 194° increases the caffeine level significantly. We recommend steeping white tea at 175-180° due to its delicate nature. It requires a cooler temperature than black or herbal teas to avoid damaging the leaves. 

Steeping Time: Time allows more caffeine to be extracted from the leaves. Caffeine begins to release from the leaves after about one minute. Steeping tea over 7-10 minutes increases caffeine levels significantly.

White tea does require more time than green tea to extract the flavor, but we recommend steeping white tea for only 4-5 minutes. If you are steeping white tea made from only the buds, you can steep another minute or two to experience the full flavor.
 

How to reduce caffeine in white tea

While containing less caffeine than black tea, white tea still has caffeine. If you love the delicate, full flavor of white tea there are a few techniques to reduce the caffeine level:

Use whole-leaf/loose-leaf tea. Teabags often contain more caffeine.

Choose white tea that comes from Fujian, China, the homeland of white tea. White tea can now be found from other countries such as Indonesia and India. This expansion of white tea cultivation now can include tea from different tea plants such as Camellia sinensis assamica. These teas are processed like white tea, but studies have shown that tea from the Fujian is lower in caffeine.

Select a decaf white tea. This won't guarantee the tea is 100% decaf if your caffeine intake is critical, but it will be lower in caffeine.

Choose a late-harvest white tea. White tea made from the buds or tips of the plant is typically higher in caffeine. Late-harvest teas such as White Peony have leaves that are more mature and have a lower caffeine content.

Enjoy a white tea blend. With the growing popularity of white tea, it is often used in delicious blends. Anytime ingredients such as fruit, rose petals or spices such as cinnamon or ginger are blended in, the caffeine content of the tea is reduced.

Brew it right. Brewing white tea for more than five minutes increases the level of caffeine. Stick with properly heated water at 175-180° and steep for no more than four to five minutes to release the full flavor without extracting more caffeine than you want.

Use more tea and less time. If you like a stronger flavor without added caffeine, use more tea in your infuser and steep the tea for less time.

 

 

References:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/white-tea-caffeine#caffeine-free-alternatives
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6170294/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29329833/

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