Uncovering the Best Tea for Caffeine
When you're looking for that energy boost to start your day, what should you reach for? Do you play it safe with a comforting black tea, or try something more unusual like a white tea, oolong tea or hot mug of yerba mate? Not all teas are born equal, with different caffeine contents, benefits and effects on your energy and health. At the top of the pile is high caffeine tea.
Why We Care About Caffeine Content
In a nutshell, caffeine content matters so much because caffeine equals energy and more motivation to get shit done.
Can you go through the morning without your caffeinated drink? If you're like us, the answer is a resounding no. And you wouldn't be alone - 90% of the world's entire population consumes caffeine at least once per day.1
But do you reach for a cup of tea or a cup of coffee?
High Caffeine Tea vs Coffee
High caffeine teas are simply tea types made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant that contain enhanced amounts of caffeine - more than the tea plant naturally produces - so they can provide as much energy as coffee (or more).
The big difference between high caffeine teas and coffee drinks, is the L-Theanine. This is an awesome amino acid that isn't found in coffee beans, but is found in tea leaves. Caffeine brings energy and that wide-awake feeling, while L-Theanine brings waves of calm, alertness and focus. They're the yin and yang you need in the morning for balance!
Furthermore, L-Theanine in caffeinated teas actually monitors and sustains the caffeine. As a result, you get a smoother energy boost throughout the day that gradually lowers you back down to normal energy levels. Caffeine without this amino acid leads to jitters and the inevitable mid-afternoon crash.
How Much Caffeine is Too Much?
High caffeine teas are strong, but they aren't too strong. Our most highly caffeinated tea at Zest Tea contains 150mg per cup. That's 3x more than a normal cup of black tea, and way more than your standard coffee too.
The FDA recommends drinking no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, so although high caffeine tea is strong, it isn't anywhere close to a dangerous level.2
How to Compare Tea Types for Caffeine Content
Looking solely at caffeine content is a great way to find a tea that will give you a huge energy boost. Unfortunately, not all tea companies make it easy for you. Measuring the amount of caffeine in each serving isn't a simple task.
For example, a green tea can provide anywhere from 30 to 50mg of caffeine, with the average being around 28mg.3
Unless you test and check the level of caffeine in a tea blend it can be tricky working out how much you're actually consuming.
Factors that Influence Caffeine Levels
- Tea plant variety and species
- Some are just naturally more caffeinated
- Shade grown vs full sun exposure
- Shade grown teas contain more.4
- New leaves and buds vs large old leaves
- The younger buds contain the most.5
- Added ingredients
- Added pieces of fruit, for example, add flavor to the tea blend but not caffeine.
Hot, Cold Brew, or Iced - Does it Matter?
Yes, the brewing method can alter the total caffeine content that ends up in your cup of tea. It comes down to timings.
To get the highest caffeine content as quickly as possible, using boiling water. The heat makes the tea leaves infuse faster. To boost the caffeine even further, brew your tea for a long time. The longer it brews, the more it infuses into the water, and the more caffeine that reaches your cup.
But that doesn't mean that iced and cold brew teas necessarily have a lower caffeine content. With iced teas, the tea leaves are brewed with boiling water then chilled or poured directly over ice. With cold brew, the tea infuses much slower but over a longer period of time: 8 hours or overnight. So, cold brew contains just as much caffeine as a hot cuppa once it has infused fully.
The only way a cold brew tea could result in lower amounts of caffeine, is if you remove the leaves before they've fully infused. After all, the brewing method cannot change how much caffeine is in the tea leaves, only how many milligrams of caffeine infuse into the water.
Loose Leaf Tea vs Tea Bags
There's 135 mg of caffeine per cup of our Pomegranate Mojito tea, whether you use our tea bags or our delicious loose leaf. This is because it's the exact same tea in both, whether you opt for tea bags or loose leaf. Even the leaf size is the same.
Some non-Zest tea bags contain much smaller leaf sizes, which helps the tea infuse much quicker. But the size doesn’t impact the amount of caffeine in the tea leaves, only the infusion time.
The exception here is matcha green tea. With matcha, you whisk the tea leaf directly into the water instead of infusing it and removing it. That's why matcha tea contains so much more caffeine than other green teas.
Popular Tea Types by Caffeine Levels
From green and white teas to oolong tea, yerba mate, and matcha - there are many kinds of tea available, and not all of it is from the Camellia sinensis plant. The amount of caffeine varies from one type to another.
Putting aside yerba mate, herbal teas, and more specialist tea types from the tea plant, we're left with the two most popular types of tea for caffeine: black tea and green tea.
Black tea is one of the most popular types of tea, but it contains less caffeine than coffee. There's approximately 47 mg of caffeine per cup.6 It's still a fantastic alternative to coffee, however, as it has a strong flavor and bold richness that goes really well with milk, just like your usual cup of joe. Black teas provide a great energy boost and a high level of L-Theanine, even though many wrongly believe that green teas are best for amino acid health benefits.7
Green tea is even lower in caffeine than black tea, with around 28 mg of caffeine per cup.8 Nonetheless, it's a popular tea type with plenty of amino acids and catechins like EGCG packed into the green tea leaves and a refreshing, green flavor. Although green tea doesn't provide a huge amount of caffeine, it has a refreshing and revitalising effect, almost like peppermint herbal teas. This is why green teas are a popular type of tea for mornings.
High Caffeine Teas
High caffeine teas cover all tea types, the key is that their caffeine levels have been enhanced. So, while a simple cup of tea might contain no more than 50 mg of caffeine, a high caffeine tea can contain three times that amount. That's even more than a cup of coffee!
All Caffeinated Tea Types
Here's how caffeinated teas stack up when you compare the caffeine per cup.
The Best Teas for Caffeine are...
Hands down, it has to be high caffeine teas.
More caffeine than coffee,
Plenty of L-Theanine,
No jitters or crash,
Smooth, sustained energy,
Enhanced focus and productivity.
Those are the key benefits of drinking a highly caffeinated tea, but to boost your health further, we recommend you pick a natural option like Zest Tea. We use non-GMO ingredients and natural tea extract to bump the caffeine, rather than sugar and artificial flavorings to give your day a boost.
We've made drinking tea an easy alternative to coffee. You can choose your energy tea from our popular tea bags, sparkling energy drink cans, or loose leaf (which just requires an infuser mug, a teaspoon of tea leaves, and plenty of hot water). Our caffeine content ranges from 135mg to 150mg and there's a growing selection of black and green tea flavors.
High Caffeine Content FAQs
Which tea is highest in caffeine?
From the Camellia sinensis plant, black tea and matcha typically have the highest caffeine content, but it's still not as much caffeine as coffee. For a better energy boost, high caffeine teas contain much more caffeine with extra L-Theanine too.
What tea has the same caffeine as coffee?
There's around 96mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee, which is roughly equivalent to two large black teas.9 An easier way to get more caffeine than coffee is to drink Zest Tea, with 150mg of caffeine per cup.
What is the best tea to replace coffee?
A high caffeine tea with plenty of L-Theanine is a great alternative for coffee, to provide energy and sustain energy levels. We recommend our Spicy Masala Chai as a morning coffee replacement - the smooth, rich flavor of chai with a tasty blend of spices is great with or without milk.
Which black tea has the most caffeine?
Our four black blends each contain 150mg of caffeine per cup, so they're quite strong! Choose from Earl Grey, Blue Lady, Cinnamon Apple, and Spicy Masala Chai.