Demystifying Decaffeinated Tea
Demystifying Decaffeinated Tea
Have you ever wondered “How is tea decaffeinated?” We don’t blame you! Questions about caffeine are some of the most frequent inquiries we get. If you are trying to limit your caffeine intake, our decaffeinated teas offer a wonderful way to get your robust daily cuppa without the side effects of caffeine.
We use the Carbon Dioxide method, the only decaffeination process approved for use with certified organic teas. Other methods such as using chemical solvents and the Water Method decaffeinate teas, but are not preferred due to the use of potentially harmful chemicals, sacrificing flavor, and damaging fragile tea leaves.
Here’s a breakdown of how each method works:
- Carbon Dioxide (approved for certified organic products): The method used for all our Decaffeinated Teas. It is gentle and delicate, retaining the integrity of the tea leaf without the use of unsafe chemicals. To decaffeinate the tea, moistened leaves are put in a sealed chamber and exposed to pressurized CO2, which liquefies when under pressure. The CO2 bonds with caffeine molecules in the leaves and, after a few hours, the liquid is poured off and the tea is dried, evaporating both the CO2 and the caffeine. This method removes the caffeine molecules only, resulting in a delicious, chemical-free, decaffeinated cup.
- Chemical Solvents (not approved for certified organic products): Methylene chloride or ethyl acetate can be used to decaffeinate tea. There are two ways chemical solvents remove caffeine. 1. Tea leaves are soaked in the chemical, which bonds to caffeine molecules to remove them. 2. Tea leaves are brewed in water, removing caffeine from the leaves, then the chemical is added to the liquid, removing caffeine molecules from the brew. After the caffeine is removed, the liquid is reabsorbed by the leaves to impart the flavor and oils without the caffeine, and the leaves are then dried. This method can result in a chemical taste, less flavor, and rougher treatment of the tea leaves.
- Water Method (not approved for certified organic products): Primarily used to decaffeinate coffee as tea leaves tend to be much more fragile than coffee beans. This method soaks tea leaves in hot water, filtering the resulting brew through a carbon filter to remove caffeine. The tea leaves are placed back into the brew to reintroduce the flavor and oils, but not the caffeine, then the leaves are dried. This method produces a much less flavorful tea and is not commonly used because of this.
Keep in mind that decaffeination cannot eliminate all caffeine in tea leaves. Decaffeinated teas are still left with approximately 2-4 mg of caffeine per cup. If you are looking to avoid caffeine altogether, the only completely caffeine-free options are Herbal Teas (with exception of Yerba Maté). Herbal teas can be made from anything but true tea (camellia sinensis). Herbs like Rooibos, Chamomile, and Peppermint can offer a pleasant cup without the caffeine.