How Much Caffeine is in Green Tea?
Green tea naturally contains caffeine, but there is a surprising amount of nuance between different types. How the tea is grown, processed, and steeped affects the caffeine content. A typical cup of green tea falls in the range of 25-45 mg of caffeine per 8oz cup. That’s less than black tea, which is usually 45-75 mg per 8oz cup. And far less caffeine than coffee, which has between 80-110 mg per 8oz cup. But don’t generalize too quickly, matcha green tea has 60-70 mg of caffeine per 8oz cup!
There are four main factors that effect caffeine content in green tea:
Just by learning how the tea is made, you’ll know which teas have higher amounts of caffeine. And different methods of brewing your tea will give you control over the caffeine content in your cup.
Factor 1: How the tea is grown
Shade Grown Teas
Teas that are grown in the shade will naturally retain more caffeine in the plant. Many Japanese green teas are shaded, like Gyokuro and some varieties of Sencha. Shading also increases the amount of L-theanine, a compound that promotes feelings of relaxation. This unique combination will give you a gentle, sustained energy boost.
Factor 2: What Part of the Plant is Used
Leaf, Stem or Bud?
Tea can be made from different parts of the Camellia sinensis plant. The finest teas are often made with the buds. Many green teas are made from the very top leaves and buds which contain the most caffeine. The stems of the plant have the least caffeine and a softer flavor. Kukicha is a popular Japanese green tea nick-named “Twig Tea” for the stems it is made from.
Factor 3: Processing Methods
Steamed or Pan-Fried?
Tea leaves must be processed after harvesting to preserve the flavor. Steaming and pan-frying are the two main methods. Most Chinese green teas are pan-fried, while Japanese green teas are usually steamed. Each method will affect the caffeine content and flavor profile. Chinese pan-fried green teas have slightly lower caffeine and mellow flavor. Japanese green teas have more caffeine and intense flavor.
Factor 4: How the Tea is Brewed
Brewing Green Tea
How you choose to brew your tea will have a big impact on the caffeine content. Hotter water will pull out more caffeine from the leaves. Steeping the tea for longer will also increase the caffeine. Yet green tea can easily become bitter if you use boiling water and steep for too long. Green tea usually tastes best when brewed for 1-3 minutes with water at 150-195 degrees F. This will yield moderate levels of caffeine. For a less caffeinated cup, brew for 30 seconds in water at 150 degrees F.
"Gyokuro is my go-to every morning. I add a tsp of Kukicha to my leftover Gyokuro leaves in the afternoon for a delicious second steep with less caffeine." -Karl
What Green Teas Have The Most Caffeine?
60-70 mg caffeine per 8oz cup (using 1 tsp of matcha powder)
Matcha has the most caffeine of any green tea. The difference is that matcha tea leaves are made into a powder. While most green teas are infused in water and then strained out, matcha powder is mixed into water and consumed entirely. This makes for a thick, green drink and a much higher amount of caffeine. If you need to jump start your morning, matcha is the right choice!
35-50 mg caffeine per 8oz cup
Gyokuro is a Japanese green tea that is grown in the shade and steamed. It has a vibrant green color and bold umami flavor. Because of the shading and steaming process, it retains the maximum amount of caffeine in the leaves. It also contains higher amounts of other beneficial compounds like antioxidants and L-theanine. If you are looking for the perfect blend of energy and health benefits, Gyokuro is the tea for you.
30-40 mg caffeine per 8oz cup
Sencha is another Japanese variety that is steamed and has a fresh, vegetal flavor. Most Sencha is grown in the sun and has moderate levels of caffeine. Sencha Fukamushi is partially shaded and has slightly more caffeine. Kabuse Sencha is fully shaded and has the most caffeine. We recommend trying our Sencha Supreme Shizuoka, a moderately caffeinated variety that brews a crisp, refreshing cup.
What Green Teas Have The Least Caffeine?
25-50 mg caffeine per 8oz cup
Dragonwell is a sweet and nutty green tea with low levels of caffeine. Like most Chinese green teas it is pan-fried, which gives it a hint of toasted flavor. You might see it labeled by its Chinese name Lung Ching or Longjing, which translates literally as ‘Dragon Well’. It pairs well with lighter meals or desserts.
10-25 mg caffeine per 8oz cup
Kukicha is made from the stems of the tea plant which have less caffeine. Its nick-name is “Twig Tea” and it has a delightful malty taste. Out of all Japanese green tea varieties, this is one of the least caffeinated. A similar tea to try is Hojicha, another Japanese green tea made from stems. While Kukicha tea is steamed, Hojicha tea is roasted and has a deeper, smoky flavor. Both are great options for any time of day.
< 5 mg caffeine per 8oz cup
If you need a completely caffeine-free option, Decaf Sencha is your best bet. It is easy to find and still has that refreshing green tea flavor. There are two common methods of decaffeinating tea: ethyl acetate treatment or CO2. We recommend avoiding ethyl acetate because it uses a chemical solvent that can tinge the taste of the tea. The CO2 method uses mainly high heat and pressure and preserves the full flavor.
Is Green Tea The Best Source For Caffeine?
Green tea contains caffeine in perfect balance with its other chemical compounds. The caffeine in green tea is softened with high levels of L-theanine, a chemical compound that promotes relaxation. It provides a ‘happy medium’ for people who want some caffeine, but don’t want the crash that comes after coffee. Seize the day with a sustained boost of energy and focus from green tea.