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Newsletter #28: Tea and Caffeine
October 13, 2009


Solving Problems Every Tea Drinker Faces

13 October 2009 Issue #28:


>> How to make green tea (continue...)
>> Tea and caffeine
>> Readers Q&A

Last month's newsletter on "how to make green tea" has resulted in a number of readers' comments.

So I will clarify further on a few points, particularly on brewing temperature.

For most greent teas, you will want to steep at below boiling point. This translates to about 50 to 90 degree Celcius or 120 to 195 Farenheits, a very wide range of temperature indeed!

Therefore brewing temperature depends critically on the type of tea you are drinking. Some green tea are easier to brew and less likely to become bitter.

Generally speaking, a good Chinese green tea will be easier to brew than a Japanese green tea. There are three reasons why this might be so.

First, Chinese green teas are usually higher grades due to lower cost of production. You are more likely to get whole tea buds that have been hand-harvested, not the matured, chopped up leaves commonly found in Japanese tea.

(To me, this is the Number ONE Rule of buying green tea. Always go for the precious tea buds with their sharp pointed tips!)

Second, Japanese green teas are steamed rather than roasted. The steaming process may be better at preserving antioxidants and caffeine due to the lower temperature. But it also makes the tea harder to brew.

Third, Japanese tea leaves tend to be very broken and fragmented. Due to my limited knowledge of Japanese tea, I am not sure why. I can only guess the steaming process "powders" the tea leaves more easily.

In any case, because Japanese tea leaves are so fragmented, they are very sensitive to temperature.

Finally, for customers who buy from my tea shop - I just want to say all my green teas are heat tolerant - with one exception - the Biluochun.


This tea is very delicate and needs to be brewed at low temperature - say in the 70 to 90 degree Celcius or 160 to 195 Farenheits range.

It doesn't mean it is low quality, just that it is very fine, has larger surface area and so get scalded more easily.

When dealing with a tea like this, it is best to pour water first, let cool, before throwing in the leaves.

The last issue has been archived at.

Until next time.


Julian Tai

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>>Coming Next...Unravelling Japanese Sencha Tea

>> Feedback: leave commment at


Dr. Weil recently writes about 9 strange caffeinated products...

Of course, he approves of drinking green tea. And he went on to suggest a DIY decaffeination method

Here is a quote from him:

All you have to do is steep the tea for 45 seconds in hot water and then pour off the liquid.

Next, add more hot water and steep as you normally would to brew a cup of that tea.

Up to 80 percent of the caffeine is released in the first infusion of water so only minimal amounts will remain when you add water the second time.

This method eliminates very little of the tea's flavor and aroma.

If tea caffeine bothers you, I highly encourage you try out this method. But beware, the 80 percent figure is probably spurious.

Dr. Weil is not aware that another scientific study has been carried out on this method. The result is controversial.

The so-called 45 seconds hot wash would only remove 10 to 20 percent of the caffeine.

Caffeine Free Tea DIY Hot Wash Method

I am not saying Dr. Weil is wrong, all I am saying is that this method won't work for everyone and every tea.

(For some people, just having some caffeine removed in the tea will do the trick. Whether it is some or most of the caffeine is irrelevant.)

Also, the so-called Hot Wash Method will remove the antioxidants and theanine, alongside caffeine.

So what do I recommend?

First, by all means try the Hot Wash Method. Just be aware that it won't work for all the teas.

If you want a soothing cup of tea, upgrade yourself to a high grade. These spring harvested tea buds contain theanine in abundance, which has been found to be naturally decaffeinating.

(High grade teas contain much more theanine than caffeine, the results is a full-body sweetness and mind-calming, no the bitter taste and irritation associated with caffeine.)

Some of my customers suffer from insomnia after drinking too much green tea, but sleep well when drinking a high grade such as HQ's Dragon Well.

Theanine is naturally sweet, it is what gives a high grade tea its full bodied flavors. It has also been found to help the mind relax and concentrate.

Green Tea Caffeine Content Paradox Theanine Decaffeination

Alternatively, for for a low grade, such as the Japanese hojicha or genmaicha. They contain less of antioxidants and caffeine. But is still a healthy drink.

Hojicha Green Tea - A Prefect Decaffeinated Drink?

Finally, if camellia sinensis tea won't do it, try a herbal tea which doesn't contain caffeine.

This will be topic for another issue.

>> Feedback: leave commment at


A few book reviews written by myself and readers. Which are your favorite tea books??

Tea Books Review - My Top Three Recommendations

>> Have a tip to share? Sow a seed, reap a harvest at


Looking for Authentic Teas directly from the Source, that taste good, look good and feel good?

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