The answer to “does green tea have caffeine?” often surprises people…but, here’s the thing, it certainly does.
So if you’re looking to completely eradicate caffeine from your diet, then green tea is almost definitely not for you.
On the other hand, many want to reduce – rather than eradicate – their intake. Green tea might be a great solution in those cases as it has significantly less caffeine than coffee and can therefore make a healthy replacement.
For the health conscious, then, a better question than “Does green tea have caffeine?” is probably “How much caffeine is in green tea?”.
Caffeine in green tea
Caffeine is made from the same plant as black tea, Camellia sinensis, and the leaves contain caffeine naturally so both have broadly the same amount of the substance.
The difference between the various levels is generated by the following factors:
• Type of green tea – a cup can have as little as 15mg of caffeine and as much as 75 mg depending on the leaf. But even at the upper end, the level is likely to be way less than coffee (normally around 100-140mg).
• Amount of sunlight – tea plants that are grown in the shade, such as matcha green tea, produce more chlorophyll and other compounds, like caffeine, to compensate.
• The size of the leaves – the larger the leaf, the less caffeine the green tea contains so it’s a good idea to view the leaves before you select your brand or blend
• Brewing times – most green teas should be brewed off the boil and for 90 to 180 seconds. Increasing temperature and brewing time will not only make your cuppa bitter – but could release more caffeine into your cup
Is caffeine bad for you?
Not necessarily. Of course, negative health effects like anxiety and headaches have been observed. However, caffeine occurs naturally in all sorts of food and drink and has known health benefits. For example, the caffeine in green tea can aid with weight loss. As long ago as 1999, researchers found that green tea extract containing polyphenols and caffeine has been shown to stimulate fat oxidation and to boost the metabolic rate (without increasing the heart rate).
So does it matter that green tea has caffeine?
As I’ve said, green tea does have caffeine – but if you pick the right leaf, brew it well and don’t drink too much, it can form a pivotal part of a healthy diet. As a guide, the Food Standards Agency recommends no more than 200mg a day for pregnant women, which could mean three to five cups, depending on strength. And I’m not even pregnant!