Posted by: Lauren | March 18, 2011

Decaf vs Caf

Often, when I serve tea, I find myself receiving requests such as “decaf please”. Decaf falls under an interesting umbrella in the tea world.

The other day, I served Rooibos as I had a request for “decaf”, and was told, “I better not be up tonight” by the tea recipient! To which I explained, not to worry, Rooibos isn’t even tea, and is a plant that has absolutely no caffeine in it, to which I received a blank, confused stare.

I do not believe in the “concept” of decaf vs caf tea – which many people are stuck in due to the lack of tea knowledge in the world. When tea is decaffeinated, a chemical process takes place, stripping much of the flavour from the tea. There is no tea that is considered decaf on its own, instead, the caffeine is chemically stripped away.

A little trick – to make loose leaf tea decaf, steep your tea once, spill it out, and then re-steep it. This mimics the chemical process, allowing the CO2 to evaporate in the same way. You’re therefore left with no caffeine, and still much of the same flavour. In my opinion, if you’re looking for something without caffeine though, it’s usually best to try an herbal blend (like rooibos, honeybush, or anything fruit based). This way, you’re not losing any flavour.

If you’re not already aware, the amount of caffeine in each type of tea varies as well. Younger teas (which also have more antioxidants), have the least amount of caffeine. Thus, white has the least, followed by green, oolong, and black tea – which has the most. And if you are looking for a lot of caffeine, a great herbal to try is Yerba Mate, which offers a kick of caffeine equal in coffee.

It’s great to start the morning off with a black tea, and gradually change to white throughout the day. Rooibos is great for night. Happy steeping!

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