What Affects Caffeine Content in Tea?

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Our Tea Category Manager Marshall Malone weighs in on caffeine found in tea and how different factors can affect it.

Did you know where your tea is grown can have an affect on the amount of caffeine contained in the tea leaves? Not all leaves are created equal when it comes to the amount of caffeine in the tea leaf. Region, climate, field conditions, soil, and even pests can influence the amount of caffeine in a given tea leaf. Yes, caffeine is natures own bug repellent, and protects plants from unwanted critters. One theory in the tea community is that pest stress could stimulate more caffeine production in a plant.

There are also many who say that the way a leaf is processed (white, black, green, etc…) can also influence caffeine in your cup. You can see in the graph below the difference between caffeine amount in black and green tea. 

However, an independent study from Spire Tea shows that caffeine levels are impacted by where it grows, though each region has multiple other variables that might influence caffeine levels. Note the difference between Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and South India (Nilgiri). Interestingly, these two regions are the closest to each other, yet could not be wider apart in caffeine levels.

Now we know why Sri Lankan teas (Ceylon) are so popular in English Breakfast. It’s the caffeine! 

The point being if you're wanting a tea with a little bit more "oomf" then you can check the region and find one that has high caffeine levels. Subsequently if you are looking for a milder cup of afternoon tea check to see if the region your tea leaves are from have a low amount of caffeine content.