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December 14, 2015
This question comes up in just about every one of our tea tastings and even more often at the store. So I thought it was time to address it here in the blog.
Fact is that all decaffeination processes use a solvent to dissolve the caffeine and then remove the solvent from the tea. All methods leave some small amount of caffeine behind
Two different methods are commonly used decaffeinate tea:
- Chemical (Methylene chloride or Ethyl acetate )
- Super Critical Carbon Dioxide (CO2 method)
Many commonly available teas are decaffeinated with chemical methods. These methods involve extracting the caffeine directly or indirectly with methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. In both cases, the tea leaves are moistened to allow the caffeine to be removed and then the non-caffeinated water is added back to the leaves. Methylene chloride is reported to be the most effective but in very high doses studies have shown it to be a carcinogen.
Ethyl acetate is another compound used to extract caffeine from tea. Ethyl acetate occurs naturally in tea leaves, coffee, bananas, and other types of produce. For the purposes of the decaffeination process the Ethyl acetate is synthetically produced. While ethyl acetate effectively removes caffeine from tea leaves, it can also extract other chemical components as well. Studies on green tea decaffeinated with ethyl acetate have shown the potential for up to 30% of epigallocathechin gallate (EGCG-considered to be the primary beneficial component in green tea) and other beneficial antioxidant compounds to be extracted along with the caffeine.
Highlights of the Chemical Methods
- methylene chloride is very effective at removing caffeine
- At very high does it is a carcinogen (no carcinogenic effect at low doses)
- Tea leaves are moistened to remove the caffeine
- According to studies, Ethyl Acetate removes up to 30% of the antioxidants in green tea
Uses highly pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) the gas that adds bubbles to mineral water to dissolve caffeine from tea leaves. At high pressures CO2 makes an effective solvent. In its pressurized state, CO2 is pumped into a sealed chamber containing tea, where it is allowed to circulate to remove the caffeine. From there, it is pumped into a washer vessel where water or activated charcoal is used to separate the caffeine from the CO2. The purified CO2 is recirculated into the pressurized chamber. This process is repeated until the appropriate amount of caffeine has been removed.
Highlights of the CO2 method
- does not leave a chemical residue
- has a minimal effect on the flavor and beneficial compounds in tea. (For example, CO2 leaves
- intact approximately 95% of the original EGCG content of green tea)
- Generally costs more than the Chemical methods
Our Souvia Label decaffeinated teas use the CO2 method. We believe this to be the best method for you and for the tea. If you have to or would like to abstain from caffeine, we also offer a large selection of herbal teas, all of which are naturally caffeine-free.
December 11, 2015
When people first come to tea, they often arrive from the world of coffee. Many are either trying to avoid caffeine altogether or seek an alternative source for there morning cup. This leads to inevitable questions about tea and caffeine. While I tend to drink tea for taste, the caffeine can be a benefit on early mornings! As this is a topic of interest to many, I always educate myself through reading (remember – Google does not equal research!), obtaining further education through Specialty Tea Institute webinars, the World Tea Expo, and consultations with herbalists and naturopaths.
There is a lot of information on the web, some of it better than others.? A couple of points to keep in mind as you search for answers about tea and caffeine.
All tea contains caffeine
- How the tea is brewed and the leaves you start with dramatically affect the caffeine in your cup
- Tea is one of the very few foods that contain L-theanine – an amino acid that can counteract some of the caffeine effects
- Caffeine in tea tends to be absorbed more slowly than caffeine in coffee
In general, Black Teas have more caffeine in the cup followed by Oolong, Green, then white teas. This assumes that the teas are brewed properly. For example, leaving white tea leaves in boiling water for 10 minutes will not only make a bitter brew it will also extract a lot of caffeine from the leaves.
L-theanine kicks in 10-20 minutes after consumption.? The net results is a reduction in some of the less pelasnt physiolocial effects of caffeine without a loss of a popular benefit – mental alertness. This is why tea is said to be stimulating yet calming.
So, whether you drink tea for taste, a boosts or both arm yourself with information so that you can make informed choices about tea and caffeine.
September 18, 2015
Caffien in my cup?
It is certainly an interesting topic and one that comes up frequently at the tea shop. Many customers seek to limit their caffeine intake or even completely avoid it altogether. Most consider it unhealthy but it seems there is no real consensus among experts on the answer to the question whether caffeine is friend or foe!
Fact is that caffeine is a bitter substance, naturally occurring in some plants as their protective measure against insects and microbes â€“ a natural pesticide! In the human body, caffeine increases metabolism and stimulates the nervous system, which leaves us more alert, feeling less tired and a little more cheerful â€“ nothing to complain about if you ask me! Negative effects such as heart palpitations, headaches and sleeplessness are typically the result of too much caffeine or sensitivity to it. For most people, though, the moderate consumption of caffeine is not harmful.
Truth is also, that the level of caffeine in your favorite drinks varies greatly and that not all caffeine is created equal. Let’s take a closer look at the makeup and effects of caffeine in your cup of tea:
How much is in my cup?
This is one of the most asked questions we get. The answer is: A variety of factors determine the caffeine content in the dry tea leaf and in the steeped leaf.
- Since caffeine is a pesticide, the younger shoots and leaves have more caffeine than the more mature tea leaves. The type of tea plant, soil texture, climate, and elevation all play a role in how much caffeine the tea leaf produces.
- Processing methods also matter when it comes to the caffeine content in your cup. Green and black teas undergo different processing and the oxidation step of black tea production changes the cellular structure of the leaf in such a way that caffeine is more readily available to dissolve in water.
- Steeping time and water temperature have a great impact on the caffeine level in your cup as well. Caffeine is water-soluble and the longer it is exposed to water, the more caffeine molecules are released â€“ in short, the longer you steep your tea, the more caffeine will end up with. This explains in part, why your green or white tea tends to have less caffeine than your black tea. The recommended steeping time for most green and white teas is 2-3 minutes, whereas black tea is typically steeped between 3-5 minutes.
How does tea compare with other sources of caffeine?
Due to the many factors contributing to the caffeine content, it is difficult to provide exact measurements. On average, however, an 8 oz cup of black tea has 85 mg caffeine and an 8 oz cup of green tea has 40-60mg of caffeine. In comparison, an 8 oz cup of drip coffee contains 135 mg, a 12oz can of Coke 34mg.
Why does tea give me a lift and not a jolt?
- The caffeine in tea is called theine (tay-eene) and metabolizes differently in the body than the caffeine in coffee. Researchers found, for example, that the high content of antioxidants found in tea slows the absorption of caffeine, resulting in a gentler effect that seems to last longer and does not end with the abrupt let-down often experienced with coffee.
- Besides caffeine, tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine (L-tay ah neen). L-theanine is relaxing and counteracts the stimulating effects of caffeine by increasing those neurotransmitters in the brain whose overall effect is to quiet brain activity. Instead of getting the jitters, tea drinkers experience a sense of calm with improved brain function. Recent studies also show that L-theanine may help protect the liver, alleviate high blood pressure and improve immune system function.
Are decaffeinated teas better for me?
During the decaffeination process, the tea leaves are first moistened before the caffeine is extracted using a solvent. Ethyl acetate, methylene chloride, or highly pressurized carbon dioxide strips the caffeine from the leaves. To remove any solvent residues, the leaves are steamed and finally dried again. The decaffeination process greatly reduces the amount of caffeine, but won’t remove it completely. On average, a cup of decaffeinated tea still has 5mg caffeine.
Teas decaffeinated with the gentler CO2 method retain most of the health properties, but even here, some of the antioxidant properties may be lost.
In summary, caffeine consumed in moderation, is well tolerated by most people and may even provide benefits to health and well being.
For those, who must or want to avoid caffeine completely, we recommend herbal infusions, such as rooibos, chamomile, peppermint or lemon balm since herbals do not contain any caffeine at all.
Ref. Dr. Paul Holmgren, PhD, www.Drpaulsupdates.org
May 8, 2015
This Mother’s Day, forget the pancakes or waffles and instead surprise her with breakfast in bed and these delicious scones. To round up the taste experience, serve a cup of our Rose Marzipan tea!
2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp sugar, 1/4tsp salt
2tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda
2-3 pinches cinnamon
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup cream
1 tsp. rose water and a good handful of rose petals (dried or fresh)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and blend thoroughly. Cut in butter until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir cream with rose water. Rinse rose petals and pat dry. Cut into a chiffonade of about 2 tbsp. Stir into cream and add liquid to dry ingredients and stir to form a soft dough.
Drop dough by the heaping tablespoonful onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake scones for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Let scones cool slightly and dust with confectioners sugar before serving!
February 2, 2015
We all know that tea, white, green, oolong or black, is a great addition to a healthy diet. Numerous studies show that the properties in green tea (and other tea varietals) can help you maintain health and well-being and may even ward of disease. Drinking 3-4 cups of tea per day will keep you well and beautiful on the inside.
Did you know, however, that you can incorporate tea in your beauty regimen for beautiful, radiant and healthy skin? The anioxidant ECGC (epigallocatechin gallate) in green tea, for example appears to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and can help fight damage done by free radicals.
It does not take much time or preparation to make the following recipes. You probably have most of the tools and ingredients at home. Give it a try – not only is it fun, but you can also save some money in the process.
Take one quart of water and bring to aboil. Add 1/2 cup of unflavored black or green tea and steep for 10- 15 minutes. Strain the leaves and set aside. Let the tea cool. Soak a piece of cotton in the tea and place on the sunburned areas. Leave on for about 15 minutes, or until the burned areas begins to cool. You can repeat this treatment up to four times a day. If refrigerated, the tea will keep for up to one week.
FOR PUFFY AND TIRED EYES
- Since tea is astringent, it helps get rid of puffy and swollen eys. Simply soak cotton balls in the prepared cold black or green tea and place on your eyes for 10 minutes.
TO BRING COLOR AND SHINE TO YOUR HAIR
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add 1/4 cup of black tea. Steep for 15-20 minutes. Cool the tea to room temperature and rinse damp, shampooed hair with it. Not only will it darken your hair, but it will also add beautiful highlights.
Simple, inexpensive, yet effective ways to take care of your skin!
September 10, 2014
July 13, 2013
May 19, 2013
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What sounds like the title of a suspense novel, is the story about the beginnings of a tea which can be considered one of the most popular among traditional black teas.
While there are numerous opinions about when and how this tea blend was created, they all center on a political figure of the 18th century – Earl Grey. Earl Grey, the person, was born Charles Grey II in England in 1764. He spent most of his life in politics and in 1830, became Prime Minister of Britain.
One of the versions of how Earl Grey tea got its name tells that during his political career, the Earl was very taken with a diplomatic gift he received – a chest of flavored black tea. He liked the tea so much that he asked British tea merchant Richard Twining to match the flavor of this mysterious tea. Twining created a blend of Indian and Ceylon black tea and added a bit of smoky Chinese Lapsang Souchong. He also used a special and rare ingredient which lent this tea its unique citrus fragrance and flavor. Since Twining blended the tea especially for the Earl, it was only fitting to name it after him – Earl Grey!
More recently, Earl Grey tea has made a number of appearances in movies: It is the favorite tea of Captain Picard of Star Trek, The Next Generation. If you are familiar with Dan Brown’s book “The Davinci Code”, you know that one of his characters, Sir Leigh Teabing, also liked his cup of Earl Grey!
The secret of Earl Grey – the tea that is, – lies in this special ingredient, the oil of bergamot fruit (Citrus bergamia risso). As secret as the ingredient, as secret is the place where we find bergamot. It is in San Gregorio, a tiny village in the province of Reggio Calabria, the southernmost part of the Italian boot where bergamot grows in luscious orchards that supply 95% of the world’s bergamot – this inedible fruit that gives Earl Grey its unique character and citrus flavor.
While it is unclear how the fruit ended up in Italy, San Gregorio is the only place where bergamot is successfully grown on a larger scale.
The fruit weighs about 3.5 ounces and is harvested in early spring. In the early days, the essence was extracted by squeezing the rind manually and collecting the liquid onto natural sea sponges that were wrung into bottles. This slow and messy work was later replaced by the macchina Calabrese, a wooden grinding wheel with a box to collect the essence. It takes 100 pounds of fruit to make one pound of essence, making bergamot an expensive flavoring agent.
While there are less expensive, synthetically created essences that resemble the flavor of bergamot, the purest and finest bergamot essence can only be found in Calabria and a powerful agricultural consortium, the Consortia Del Bergamotto is responsible for overseeing its production and for making decisions which affect the global tea industry.
The next time you purchase Earl Grey, let your tea purveyor lift the secret of its secret ingredient and make sure you get to enjoy a cup of true bergamot scented tea!
As for the equally well known “Lady Grey” black tea blend, which by the way is only blended and sold by Twining, it is named after Mary Elizabeth Grey, wife of Charles II.
People used to say that Earl Grey was too strong for the delicate female constitution and could cause rather strange impulses. Therefore, Lady Grey was blended to suit the female palette better and to ease women’s minds and hearts.
Our rendition on this lighter Earl Grey is called Grey Duchess, and blended with lavender and vanilla – truly a delight!