Black tea, green tea, white tea... which has the most caffeine? In this article, we'll cover the caffeine content of different tea types, comparing them to high caffeine teas too.
Did you know that caffeine has more health benefits than just helping you feel energized? You can discover exactly how it works and the benefits it has for your body in this article too.
Find out what type of tea has the highest caffeine content (and why that matters so much) below. For another in-depth breakdown of where tea ranks for caffeine content among other caffeinated beverages, check out High Caffeine Tea - Everything You Need to Know.
The majority of teas that contain caffeine are from the Camellia sinensis plant. The Camellia sinensis leaves naturally contain caffeine and are processed to become black tea, white tea, green tea, oolong tea... and several other well-known tea types.
The amount of caffeine per cup varies depending on the tea type and what part of the plant it was harvested from. The tips of the tea plant contain more caffeine than the larger leaves, for example.
Besides the Camellia sinensis plant, there are a few other natural sources. Chocolate and coffee are the most well-known, but there are others.
Yerba mate is a tea made from a South American plant. There's quite a high caffeine content in yerba mate! Here is how it stacks up against teas from the tea plant per cup (8oz).
Yerba Mate - 85mg
Matcha - 70mg
Black Tea - 47mg
White Tea - 40mg
Oolong Tea - 37mg
Green Tea - 28mg
One quick way to get more caffeine than all of these teas (and even coffee) is to try a natural high energy tea from Zest Tea. There's up to 150 mg of caffeine per cup to get you energized and ready for the day.
Herbal teas are caffeine-free. You won't get any caffeine out of brewing peppermint leaves or chamomile flowers!
Some herbal tea types can be energizing and have great effects on your health, but they won't provide the high caffeine content you are looking for. Caffeine-free teas are also free of the amino acids that makes tea so great - learn more about those below.
Coffee, with 96 mg of caffeine per cup, does contain more caffeine than tea. However, don't forget that high caffeine teas like Zest Tea can easily trump that. High caffeine tea is better than coffee for a few more reasons:
Quick and convenient to brew, especially if you pick pyramid tea bags.
Better value for money - you can re-steep tea leaves multiple times, while coffee beans are only brewed once.
Not everyone likes the flavor of coffee, but if you do, then black tea will appeal to you most. It's rich, bold flavor goes great with a splash of milk. You could even try turning our classic Earl Grey high energy tea into a latte, called a London Fog.
Drinking tea in the mornings is a brilliant way to start your day. If you're looking to switch away from coffee, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how the caffeine in tea helps you feel.
Read our article about the Best Morning Tea for Energy to learn more about how to take your usual Monday mornings to the next level.
The reason caffeinated teas have a different effect on your mind and body compared to coffee, comes down to how caffeine impacts your body and how it interacts with other components.
Caffeine is a stimulant that temporarily impacts your central nervous system. It keeps you feeling awake and buzzing with energy. Except, caffeine doesn't actually create energy. Instead, caffeine blocks tiredness to help you feel more awake.
It does this by binding to adenosine receptors in your brain. With caffeine blocking those receptors, adenosine cannot signal to your brain that you feel sluggish and sleepy.
Caffeine is rapidly absorbed, so you’ll start to feel the effects within 45 minutes of ingestion. The average half-life of caffeine is roughly 5 hours, but it ranges anywhere from 1.5 hours to 9.5 hours. It depends on the caffeine levels you consumed, as well as your personal tolerance and sensitivity to it. 3
By blocking adenosine receptors, you prevent adenosine from calming cellular activity. As a result, your stimulated nerve cells release more adrenaline (epinephrine). And that means:
Increased heart rate,
Higher blood pressure,
More dopamine (the feel-good neurotransmitter),
Increased blood flow to muscles.
As a result, you'll feel that energy high as any drowsiness fades away and your body is pumped with adrenaline. 4
Feeling jitters and being unable to focus your caffeinated energy boost are common too, when you consume high levels of caffeine.
The other problem is, caffeine wears off fast.
Caffeine suddenly wears off, which is known as the 'caffeine crash',
A flood of adenosine can now bind to receptors,
You get a wave of drowsiness and feel even more tired than before.
That's the real issue with drinking caffeine for an energy boost.
Fortunately, that only applies to caffeine from coffee, energy drinks, and any other source that isn't from the Camellia sinensis plant. It all comes down to one amino acid.
L-Theanine is an amino acid found naturally in tea leaves. There are different levels of it in different types of tea, with notable levels in black and green teas.
It's this component that alters the effects of caffeine.
L-Theanine crosses the blood brain barrier, just like caffeine, to block and stimulate certain neurotransmitters. While caffeine is busy blocking adenosine, L-Theanine promotes GABA production. GABA is a key component for managing stress. L-Theanine from tea leaves also generates alpha waves in your brain, to promote relaxation further.
The effects of L-Theanine in tea:
Reduces vasoconstriction (prevents your heart rate and blood pressure increasing),
Lowers levels of cortisol to reduce your stress response,5
Improves mental alertness and can even aid creative thinking,6
Speeds up your reaction time, memory time, and improves accuracy,7
Soothes anxiety and psychological stress in both acute and chronic circumstances,8
Softens the harsh effects of caffeine for a calmer "come down."
L-Theanine in caffeinated teas like green teas and black teas, effectively reduces the negative side effects of too much caffeine. Those hyperactive jitters are replaced with calmness and focus. Combined with caffeinated energy, this is the perfect recipe for productivity.
This is essentially why a cup of caffeinated tea is better than coffee for energy, even though it may contain a lower caffeine level. A good way to bump up the caffeine and still get the L-Theanine benefits is to drink high energy teas.
Available as loose leaf tea and tea bags, highly caffeinated tea provides a smooth energy level that naturally tapers off. No jitters, no crash.
It's not just the rich amino acid content of tea that makes it so great for your health. The caffeine in green tea and black tea has unique health benefits too.
Scientists at Stanford have found that caffeine may counter age-related inflammation. Arthritis, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease and even some types of cancer are all linked to age-related inflammation, but the humble cup of tea could counter that and even prolong your life.9
For the best anti-inflammatory benefits, we recommend a tasty green tea. The EGCG catechin found in green tea has proven links with reducing inflammation too.10
Did you know that theophylline, a drug prescribed to treat asthma, is chemically related to caffeine?
It's no surprise that scientists have found that a healthy dose of caffeine can treat the symptoms of asthma by improving airway function and helping you breathe better. Impressively, the effects can last up to 4 hours!11
Caffeine can help you burn fat when you exercise, significantly reducing your body weight.12 There’s also evidence that it can boost your performance and endurance during workouts, especially if you consume your caffeinated teas no more than 60 minutes before you start.13 If you need assistance with your weight goals, check out Obesity Controller.
Furthermore, a combination of caffeine and carbohydrates has been shown to increase glycogen stores in your muscles post-workout. Caffeine and carbs together increased glycogen levels by 66%, compared to just carbs alone.14 Our muscles need glycogen to repair after a workout, so caffeine could reduce your recovery time.
A high caffeine content intake is associated with a lower risk of developing kidney stones.15 A nice hot cup of caffeine tea dilutes urine, which could explain why numerous studies have discovered this link with kidney health.
Another study has clearly linked caffeine consumption with reduced mortality among those with chronic kidney disease.16
The caffeine content in tea could protect you against depression. Observational studies have determined a link between caffeine consumption, particularly in coffee and tea, with depression. It actually has a protective effect.17
Combined with the anti-anxiety properties of L-Theanine, a cup of tea is looking like a great way to protect your mental health.
We love drinking tea... but we're not all that crazy about drinking cup after cup just to get the energy we need. This is why our high caffeine teas were created. Normal tea contains a nice amount of caffeine, but Zest Teas contain a whole lot more.
With up to 150 mg of caffeine per cup, our teas contain a huge energy energy boost and plenty of calm focus. We use natural tea extract to bump the energy levels up, so you get a caffeine boost that can rival coffee with the calming properties of an amino acid rich cup of tea.
All you need to do is pick a flavor from our green teas and black teas (or try the Mega Sampler pack), pour over hot water, and you're ready to start your day. There's both loose leaf tea and pyramid tea bags available. If that's not your style, check out our iced Sparkling Teas too.
High caffeine tea, like our range of tea blends at Zest Tea, contains more caffeine than coffee. Other tea types like matcha and yerba mate may taste great, but they don't provide as much energy as coffee.
Your typical black tea and cup of coffee both have moderate to high levels of caffeine. Other drinks that contain a high caffeine level include energy drinks, soft soda drinks, yerba mate, matcha, and high caffeine tea of course.
Of all the types of tea, excluding herbal teas, black tea is most like coffee. It tends to have a richer, bolder flavor than most tea types. If you drink your tea black, it can be quite similar to coffee. In terms of energy, an ordinary black tea has less caffeine than coffee but our high energy black teas contain more. Take a look at fan-favorite Blue Lady for a highly caffeinated black tea.
It's the same caffeine stimulant in both tea leaves and coffee beans. The difference is, there's typically more caffeine in a cup of coffee compared to a cup of tea (excluding high caffeine teas). Tea also provides L-Theanine which alters the caffeine effects.