Does Oolong Tea Have Caffeine?
The caffeine content of oolong tea can be highly variable. You may have read a few conflicting estimates for caffeine in oolong and felt totally confused. This is because there are so many factors that can influence an individual cup of oolong tea. What temperature was the water used to brew? How long was it steeped for? What time of year were the leaves harvested? We’ll break down all the details so you can more accurately determine what’s in your cup.
There are 5 main factors that determine the caffeine content of oolong tea:
The Caffeine content in oolong tea usually falls in the middle between black and green tea, with black tea having the most. An 8oz cup of black tea typically has about 45-70 mg per cup. Oolong tea can have as little as 10 mg per cup and as much as 102 mg per cup. Green tea has consistently lower caffeine at 20-45 mg. To compare, coffee has around 90-110 mg per cup. So, it is important to learn about the factors that can affect the amount in oolong tea to measure the caffeine level.
Temperature of the Water
The temperature of the water used to brew oolong has a huge impact on caffeine content. Boiling water at 212 degrees F. will extract more than double the amount of caffeine as water at 80 degrees F. This gives you a lot of control over the overall caffeine content in your tea.
The longer you steep any tea, the more caffeine it will contain. Oolong tea that is brewed for 1 minute will have much less caffeine than oolong tea brewed for 5 minutes. We usually recommend a 3 minute brew for the best flavor and a medium level of caffeine. The exact content will vary depending on the type of oolong used.
Oolong tea leaves can be brewed multiple times. The first cup of tea will have the most caffeine, and the next brews will have less. By the third cup you will usually have less than half the caffeine of the first cup. Some people give their oolong a ‘rinse’ by brewing one cup for just a few seconds, dumping it, and brewing a second cup for longer. This will lower the caffeine slightly as well as making the flavor smoother.
There are two main factors that determine the caffeine in different oolong varieties. First, what time of the year the tea is harvested. Spring or winter picked teas have less caffeine and summer or fall teas have the most. For example, our Jade Oolong is harvested in the spring and lower in caffeine. On the flip side, Oriental Beauty is a type of oolong picked in the summer and can have up to 102mg of caffeine per cup! The other main factor is how the tea is processed. When tea is roasted during processing, it will have less caffeine. Tea that is aged longer during processing also has less caffeine. So when choosing an oolong, take note of how it says it was processed.
Oolong tea is an exquisite type of tea that every tea lover should try. There is a huge variety of options from the most delicate and floral Iron Goddess of Mercy to the full-bodied creaminess of Milk Oolong. For those looking for an energizing morning brew, Darjeeling is a bold classic. Oolong will have all the antioxidants and other health benefits that all tea contains, and a unique flavor profile to explore.
The best part about the variable caffeine content in oolong is that you can choose the best option for your individual needs. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you can choose roasted or aged spring oolongs and adjust your steeping choices. Alternately, if you want a bigger kick of caffeine, you can try unroasted summer or fall varieties and use hot water with a longer steep time. The most important thing is to be well informed so that you have control over your caffeine intake. Take a look at the many oolong varieties out there and start experimenting!