Oct 1st, '13, 11:55
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Reduced caffeine tea... which would be best?

by cottonmama » Oct 1st, '13, 11:55

Years ago doctors told me to reduce my caffeine intake, and I cut it out altogether. Now I think am ready to start reintroducing it for the sake of a good cup of tea in the morning, but I'd still like to take it easy on the caffeine... maybe reduce it by 25%-50%. I have a couple ideas of how to do this:

1) steep for 2-5 minutes, discard; brew again and drink the second steep
2) mix a decaf tea with a good regular tea, say half and half
3) mix a decaf tea with a naturally caffeine free tea, like a rooibos
4) drink less tea :-(

I tried the first option this morning with Adagio's cream tea and was disappointed. I like my tea strong, and it tasted weak this way, like it was missing something. (Maybe the caffeine, haha.) I brewed 2 minutes, discarded, and re-brewed for 3 minutes. Maybe the second steep should be longer? But I don't want to end up with bitter tea or the same level of caffeine I'd have gotten in the first steep. Maybe some teas hold up to this better than others?

Which way would you prefer? Or should I just settle for straight decaf or herbal?

Oct 1st, '13, 13:18
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Re: Reduced caffeine tea... which would be best?

by GuyWan » Oct 1st, '13, 13:18

I think that I would either mix a decaf tea with a good regular tea (Adagio has some good decaf ceylon tea that could be used for that purpose) or I would drink maybe a regular tea in the morning, then switch to either decaf, rooibos, or herbal for the rest of the day.

I don't know how you prepare your tea, but when I want to cut back on the caffeine without loss of taste, I prepare my tea gong-fu style in small brewing vessels. Using only 1-2 grams of tea can yield a lot of flavor that way so you get the satisfaction of "tasting the tea" without ingesting a huge amount of caffeine.

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Oct 2nd, '13, 13:48
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Re: Reduced caffeine tea... which would be best?

by Evan Draper » Oct 2nd, '13, 13:48

Yeah, there's no easy solution here, just permutations on "drink less tea."
If there are any decaf or non-caf options you like, that seems easiest. That would not suit me. If I were forced to cut caffeine intake, I would probably make a smallish cup of good tea at high concentration, take a few sips, then gradually replace the fluid with hot water. So you get your initial taste, and then it fades away....

Oct 3rd, '13, 09:15
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Re: Reduced caffeine tea... which would be best?

by Chasm » Oct 3rd, '13, 09:15

As a "drink less tea" option, I've done this by finding teas I like the taste of when they're quite diluted.

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Oct 3rd, '13, 17:45
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Re: Reduced caffeine tea... which would be best?

by yalokinh » Oct 3rd, '13, 17:45

I don't think you have to brew very long in order to get rid of some of the caffeine, try less brewing time on the first infusion

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Oct 24th, '13, 09:30
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Re: Reduced caffeine tea... which would be best?

by AlexZorach » Oct 24th, '13, 09:30

I strongly dislike decaf tea, but fortunately there are some very good options for you, even if you are a black tea lover.

There are several caffeine-free herbs that taste very tea-like. None of them taste exactly like tea, and they all seem to capture different aspects of tea's flavor, aroma, and body. One is Rooibos...some people love it, some hate it, most somewhere in between...if you haven't tried it I'd definitely recommend getting a red rooibos and seeing what you think of it.

Another herb that is often neglected as a black tea substitute is red raspberry leaf. It's most known as a women's health tea, but unlike some medicinal teas recommended for women, it doesn't mess with hormone levels and is safe for men to drink as a beverage too. Flavor-wise I find it captures or emulates different aspects of black tea's flavor and aroma than rooibos. It's perhaps a bit thinner bodied but the aroma seems to resemble black tea more than rooibos does.

Another one that is not widely available commercially, but is easy to grow, is New Jersey Tea. I haven't tried it but I've heard it tastes very good, and I've been eager to try it because I hear it has a hint of a wintergreen-like aroma, a hallmark of high grades of black teas.

Yet another option to consider...a true tea but one that is low-caffeine, is hojicha, Japanese roasted green tea. The roasting destroys some of the caffeine, and the dark-roast ones have little caffeine in them. However, the darker ones have a stronger aroma, a little coffee-like...I find that this type of tea often pleases black tea lovers because of its rich color, aroma, and body. It has a much milder flavor though...very smooth.

You also could try branching out into non-tea-like herbs...there are some that don't resemble black tea at all, but that I find delightful. I love tulsi (holy basil), and I also love spearmint, apple mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, pineapple sage, orange mint, and many others.

Oct 24th, '13, 12:21
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Re: Reduced caffeine tea... which would be best?

by Senchamatcha » Oct 24th, '13, 12:21

Cottonmama, How much tea can you have?
Would 10-30 mgs be ok? or would that be too much?
1 tsp sencha has ~30 mg caffeine per cup.

you can also dig through all the forum posts by typing caffeine into the search bar. there are several chats about alternative herbs as well as diluting and variations of "less tea".
Is there a specific reason why you shouldn't be having caf? or did your dr just give you a blanket statement to limit caf? and at the time about how many mg's of caf were you getting per day?
If you have a heart problem (lets say tachycardia) and you were drinking 3 cups of full caf coffee a day (thats what 280ish mg caf) and the dr. said to cut back. I could understand why. and would suggest you keep your tea drinking under 100mg (but in this case you REALLY need to ask your dr. how much is safe for someone with something like tachy.)
BUT... IF...
you were drinking two to three cups of tea several days a week (what? like... 90 mg caf. per day? something like that), have no ongoing heart problems or other medical reasons for restrictions, and your dr. just threw out a blanket statement of "people your age..." then I would take that with a grain of salt. and a big mug of tea.

Green tea has L-th. in it and the L-th prevents caf from raising your bp, your heart rate will still speed up slightly but not like it does from coffee or black teas. So if you want to start drinking tea again I would start with greens.

Oct 29th, '13, 18:36
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Re: Reduced caffeine tea... which would be best?

by NoTimeLikeTeaTime » Oct 29th, '13, 18:36

This post has been super helpful! I recently discovered that I can't really have much caffeine. And by that I mean I can't really have it at all.

These posts have got me thinking of how I can re-introduce "real" tea again once I've gotten to a point where I feel like I can start again. So thanks everyone! Keep the suggestions coming =)

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Nov 1st, '13, 12:08
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Re: Reduced caffeine tea... which would be best?

by entropyembrace » Nov 1st, '13, 12:08

First...it takes a long time to get all of the caffeine out of tea...up to 15 minute extractions in a lab with agitation and constant boiling iirc. It probably almost never happens in real life. (well..some people around here do brew every last soluble compound out of their tea :mrgreen: )

So brewing for less time will result in less caffeine in your cup. Throwing away the first infusion probably doesn't help any, you're better off drinking a short first infusion for less caffeine.

What might be better news for you is that caffeine will evaporate at 178*C which I think is low enough temperature that heavily roasted teas have reduced caffeine content. Try drinking high fired oolongs or houjicha and see how you feel. They do still have some caffeine so you might need to be moderate with them if you're very sensitive.

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