I know we’ve spoken about the caffeine issue on many occasions. We’ve gone back and forth on the home decaffeinating process. Can you tolerate one more turn on this important subject?
I saw an article about this very thing in TeaMuse recently. Here’s their bottom line:
A 1996 article in Food Research International describes an experiment in which six teas (bagged and loose varieties of black, oolong, and green) were steeped in boiling water for five minutes. The same leaves were then used to produce two more five-minute infusions. The researchers found that the average percentage of caffeine removed after the initial five-minute infusion was only 69%, a far cry from the 97% removal required to label a product as “decaffeinated”. The average removal in the two subsequent infusions was 23% and 8%, respectively. What this means is that to decaffeinate your tea, you would need three infusions for a total of around 15 minutes and by then, both flavor and polyphenol content would be very much affected.
I’d like to begin with the observation that the proper way to brew green and white tea is with lower temperatures and shorter brewing cycles. Wouldn’t this have a significant impact on the release of caffeine?
The reason I’ve been holding onto this concept so persistently is that my daughter is extremely sensitive to caffeine. We’ve come to learn that she can in fact tolerate and enjoy green and white tea after a first rinse. I’ve never even tried to offer her the first rinse. This leads me to believe that the old wives’ tale about rinsing away the caffeine was legit.
Here’s what I’m coming around to believing: Isn’t it feasible to conclude that temperature and time are important factors? That could very well explain why caffeine isn’t released from the brew very much and why my daughter can easily drink it without experiencing any unpleasant side effects. I really do take exception to everyone drawing conclusions about the release of caffeine from a scientific vantage point when the testing was done with incorrect temperatures and times. Another way to look at it is that if one is using cooler water, for shorter periods of time, one would expect less caffeine to be released. So if we’re starting with 20 milligrams of caffeine in 8 ounces of water, not much caffeine would be released in each steeping – further demonstrating the low levels of caffeine in each cup of green and white tea. I think it supports some plausible evidence that green and white teas are in fact low in caffeine.
I’m not sure I’ve changed anyone’s mind, but this exercise has in fact answered some of my questions.