Caffeine is highly soluble and is one of the first constituents of the tea leaf to be extracted in steeping. Usually 80 percent of the tea’s caffeine content is released within the first 20 to 30 seconds of steeping. You can enjoy virtually caffeine-free tea with small sacrifice of flavor, therefore, by discarding the water after the first 30 to 60 seconds of steeping and adding fresh hot (temperature depending on tea type) water to the now-decaffeinated leaf. Remember too that tea has constituents which act to soothe and relax the body. These polyphenols only begin to dissolve after the third minute of steeping and will be pretty fully extracted after 5 minutes. This long-steeped tea is the secret of bedtime tea some swear by as an aid to sleep.
Managing Editor’s Note: This post generated a lot of discussion, including corrections to the information it contains. I strongly encourage you to read the many comments posted by our readers. Thanks to all who took the time to voice their thoughts on this important topic.