Which Tea Has the Most Caffeine? The Answer Might Surprise You!

clayton author photo

Do you need something to replace your morning cup of coffee? Tea is a good way to do it. However, the amount of caffeine in tea can change quite a bit, mostly based on what kind of tea you use.

There are other factors that influence caffeine levels in tea, including how the tea is processed, specific brewing techniques, and where the tea was grown.

You should know that certain types of tea have no caffeine at all or so little that they’re not the routine caffeine team player you need for the day. For example, tisanes and herbal teas don’t have any naturally occurring caffeine.

Personally, I’m a coffee drinker and have coffee just about every day. Just as a quick comparison, a typical cup of coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine.

Tea Caffeine Levels Compared

Assuming an 8-ounce cup:

  • Green Tea: 40-70mg per cup
  • Black Tea: 50-90mg per cup
  • Matcha: 70mg per cup
  • Silver Needle White Tea: 75mg per cup
  • Yerba Mate: 85mg per cup

Unless a tea is deliberately decaffeinated, then any tea that is made using Camellia Sinensis, which is the conventional tea plant, is going to have some caffeine in it.

Fruit teas and herbal teas aren’t usually considered as being genuine teas sourced from Camellia Sinensis plants. Rather, they’re combinations of flowers, fruits, and herbs. 

Fruit and herbal teas don’t have any caffeine. They include peach teas and chamomile, and they’re caffeine-free. As such, there’s no process of oxidation involved. Still, fruit and herbal teas might have a few milligrams of caffeine because they’re often made along with other teas, and contamination can occur.

Oxidation? What’s That?

Oxidation is a crucial factor in the caffeine levels of a tea. It’s a sequence of chemical reactions which makes the tea leaves turn brown. It impacts not just the caffeine, but also the aroma and flavor of the tea.

To make oxidation happen, tea leaves are rolled so that cracks happen. Once this occurs, oxygen has a chance to react with the enzymes inside the plant. Oxidation impacts the aroma, taste, and caffeine levels. 

Less oxidation offers a lighter taste and lower caffeine levels. Highly oxidized teas like black tea result in the highest caffeine levels, whereas white tea has the lowest caffeine levels due to being the least oxidized.

If you were to compare this to coffee roast levels, it’s the exact opposite. Lighter roasts will have more caffeine than darker roasts.

Teas High In Caffeine

Black Tea

Among the common kinds of tea, black tea is likely the one you can find with the most caffeine. That’s thanks to its range of 50 to 90 mg per cup.

Black tea usually has more potency and robust flavor when compared to common kinds of tea, like green, white, or Oolong. A combination of longer infusion time and higher steeping temperatures, including boiling, results in this. Since black tea gets oxidized, more of its caffeine can get extracted from the plant leaves as compared to other kinds of tea.

Matcha

A cup of Matcha has roughly 70 mg of caffeine, packing quite the punch. Green tea leaves are mashed up in order to create something moderately potent and condensed than a typical green tea.

Green Tea

Among the most frequently used kinds of tea, this one usually falls behind only black tea in terms of its caffeine content. With a typical cup containing between 40 to 70 mg of caffeine, green tea can be the spark of energy you need in the morning.

The color and flavor are lighter because of un-fermented leaves.

Silver Needle China White Tea

Many kinds of white tea don’t usually have a lot of caffeine, but this is a specific variety hitting almost 75 mg for each cup. Younger tea buds that avoid any stems result in a far more potent tea.

Yerba Mate

At 85 mg per cup of caffeine, this one is the king of this list. It’s almost as strong as a normal cup of coffee. It’s highly popular in many South American Nations.

It isn’t made from the conventional tea plant, but instead South American holly tree leaves. Enthusiasts have been praising it for a while for two particular reasons. The first is a healthy level of vitamin content, which never hurts, and the second is its power to offer drinkers a caffeine buzz that’s not as jittery as other beverages.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

types of tea

Does The Grade of Tea Impact The Levels of Caffeine?

Based on the conditions of tea leaves, they are assigned categories including dust grades, fannings grades, broken leaf grades, and whole leaf grades. 

Typically, more caffeine is found from broken leaves than whole leaves. Teabags have really broken grades and offer more caffeine, but they don’t have the aroma and flavor potential that loose leaves do.

How Does The Growing Method Impact The Level of Caffeine?

Steeping isn’t the only thing that matters. Matcha and other shade-grown teas come with higher caffeine levels. This happens because plants shaded from the light of the sun prior to harvest shift in both amino acids and chlorophyll.

How About The Caffeine Found In Powdered Teas?

Matcha green tea is only one of many powdered teas, and they have especially high levels of caffeine. Matcha has a caffeine content that is so high, a number of people drink it routinely instead of coffee. Matcha has a caffeine level that is twice as high as what you find in normal green tea.

That happens due to the fact that Matcha is made up of crushed leaves, rather than infusing leaves with hot water. If you drink Matcha, then you are actually consuming whole tea leaves; that means you get all of its caffeine instead of only some. The fact that Matcha is normally shade-grown also impacts its levels of caffeine.

In Conclusion

Having read all of this, you should have a decent understanding of the amount of caffeine in certain teas. Even though this guide has information about general levels of caffeine in tea, you still need to check your specific variety of tea. 

There are certain teas, such as the aforementioned Silver Needle, that have a lot more caffeine than even other teas in the same species.

Leave a Reply