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Does Black Tea Have Caffeine? Researched And Analyzed

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by Siadra

Updated January 18, 2021

Caffeine in Black Tea

People in western countries love black tea. Is it because black tea contains caffeine? Sure it does. First of all, black tea tastes damn good. Its strong aroma and ability to keep you going throughout the day can even be compared with coffee. If you are of those black tea lovers who want to have more caffeine in their cup of tea, this article will definitely help you. On the contrary, if you have issues with caffeine, you can also cut down the caffeine level of your black tea. Let’s dive down deep!

How much caffeine does black tea contain?

A 240 ml cup of brewed black tea can contain as much as 47 mg of caffeine. Measuring the exact amount of caffeine in black tea calls for a number of limitations. The caffeine level might vary depending on the quality of tea leaves, processing, brewing, and many other factors. Most tea brands don’t mention the caffeine content in their packaging labels. So, it’s hard to really provide you exact numbers. You might have asked yourself a lot of times- does Lipton black tea have caffeine? It’s black tea, folks! It contains 17 mg-47 mg of caffeine if brewed between 1-5 minutes.

Why does black tea have more caffeine than others?

Black tea has more caffeine than green tea, oolong tea, or fresh tea leaves. The primary reason is the fermentation period of black tea leaves. Many individuals and health blogs have covered this up as a myth because many other factors can affect the caffeine content. But we found that there is a significant difference in caffeine levels in fermented and non-fermented tea leaves.

As black tea undergoes the longest fermentation period, it’s caffeine level is thus higher.

Factors that control the caffeine content of black tea

4 Factors that you can control to increase or decrease caffeine

If you can make changes to these 4 factors, you can control the caffeine level of your black tea.

  1. Brewing time has the greatest effect
    Brewing time is critical. You can significantly increase the caffeine in your black tea if you brew more. You can refer to the data above from a study on caffeine levels of different black tea brands compared with 3 levels of brewing time. If we calculate the average caffeine level of all these tea brands, we can find that it almost doubles up from 1-minute to 5-minute brewing time. The more you brew, the better the taste of black tea. Brewing time around 3-4 will give you a perfectly tasting black tea with moderate amounts of caffeine.
  2. Physical dunking of tea bags Dunking tea bag is when you continuously move the tea bag up and down in hot water. Some people also squeeze the tea bag to the side of the cup, and it’s also a form of dunking. The more you dunk, the more is the chance of increasing the caffeine in your tea. This is because dunking allows more extraction of the tea content in water. So, if you hate caffeine, don’t dunk the tea bag. Leave it in the water for a few seconds or a minute.
  3. Higher temperature can yield more caffeine Ever heard your grandma saying to brew tea in boiling water? Temperature like brewing time also affects the taste and caffeine levels in black tea. The reason is quite simple. High water temperature is able to breakdown the structure of the tea leaves. So more of the tea components are extracted. A significant difference in extraction is found in tea leaves brewed in room temperature water and hot boiling water.
  4. Choose between loose-leaf tea and tea bags Loose-leaf tea has been found to provide more caffeine while brewing than tea bags. The reason is loose-leaf tea has no form of resistance like the tea bag paper. Hence it gets extracted more.

Factors out of your control

  1. Tea bag size and material
    Tea bag size and material also contributes in some way to the caffeine content in your tea. Tea bags with more space has a larger surface area for the water to act. So, tea is extracted more. The porosity of the tea bag material is also crucial. Porosity here means how much the tea extraction can pass through. The size of the tea leaves inside the tea bag also aids the process of extraction. If you want more caffeine, go for black tea brands that have larger tea bags with larger leaves.
  2. Young tea leaves vs. old tea leaves
    You might have heard people debating on white tea vs. green tea as to which is better. The interesting thing is white tea has more caffeine than green tea or black tea. Because it’s manufactured from very young leaves. So, the age of your black tea leaves at harvest will change its caffeine level.
  3. Storage time of tea leaves
    A 1981 study of tea leaves stored for 6 months, shows that increasing the storage time of tea leaves can also increase their caffeine level. Theaflavin and caffeine remain as complex in black tea. As it ages, this complex breaks down, and the caffeine becomes free and gets easily extracted during brewing. So, does more storage time means a better tasting tea? Not in any sense. More storage life means the tea will taste bitter. Check the manufacturing date of your black tea. If it’s higher than 6 months, we would recommend not to buy it.
  4. Method of fermentation
    Manufacturers might also use microorganisms to make changes to the caffeine level or taste of your black tea. The use of different types of microorganisms can increase or decrease caffeine. Research shows that mold fermentation increased the caffeine content in black tea by 46.4%.

And yeast fermentation showed a decrease in caffeine content.

Caffeine level in black tea FAQ

  • Definitely no. A 240 ml cup of brewed coffee can contain as much as 100 mg of caffeine. That’s almost twice as much found in black tea.

  • Many brands these days sell decaffeinated black tea. This is not totally caffeine free. On average, you can cut down 12 mg of caffeine per serving of tea with this. But the taste of regular tea is nowhere near to decaffeinated tea. So, it’s up to you to decide.

Final Thoughts

If you have managed to skim down to the end of this article, you already got the answer to your question- does black tea have caffeine? We also analyzed several published research papers to find how to control the caffeine content in your black tea. If you apply these in your tea making, you will never feel confused regarding the caffeine level in your tea.