Is all caffeine the same?

Is all caffeine the same?

In reality all caffeine from different sources both synthetic and natural are not measurably distinguishable from each other in their makeup. Their molecules are the same. But when your caffeine is mixed with other compounds there are some findings that show a change in the caffeine’s impacts on the body. It is thought that when you drink caffeine from tea it will not impact you the same as caffeine from an energy drink or coffee. 

Let’s jump in and take a deeper look at caffeine.

Where is caffeine derived from?

Caffeine has two sources. 

Natural Sources - There are over 60 natural sources for caffeine. A few common examples include plants such as Camellia Sinensis (Tea plants), Coffea arabica or C. cenephora (Coffee plants and Ilex Vomitoria (Yaupon).

Synthetic - Synthetic Caffeine is commonly found in soda’s and processed goods. It is made in a lab by processing urea, chloroacetic acid, methyl chloride and ethyl acetate. Sounds yummy right? 

So how is it that not all caffeine is the same?

So the molecular structure of caffeine is the same but how it is handled by the body differs based on the sources and attributes of each.

Tea caffeine in tea is absorbed more slowly. Tea has the benefits of synergy with other compounds which seems to slow down the body’s absorption rate.  

Synthetic caffeine found in soda has a much higher concentration so it is absorbed by the body much faster. 

Coffee has more caffeine and it is not absorbed as slowly as tea. This gives you a stronger boost and sometimes that jittery effect.

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What are some surprising places caffeine can be hidden?

Cocoa, Ice Cream, Snackbars, Kombucha, Decaffeinated Coffee/Tea, some medications, Matcha, Many foods labeled “Energy”, Cereal, Candy, Juice.

Wait what? I thought it was decaffeinated, how can there be caffeine in my tea?

Decaf does not mean 0 caffeine. The FDA requires 97% of the caffeine to be stripped out of the beverage to qualify for the decaf label which means your tea and coffee still contain a small amount of caffeine. 

Does quantity matter?

Yes, the quantity of caffeine per cup of coffee can be higher than a cup of tea. 1 cup of brewed coffee has more caffeine than 1 cup of brewed tea.

Does the steeping time or temperature impact the caffeine levels in your tea?

Yes! If you brew your tea longer or with too hot of water (boiling) it can increase the amount of caffeine in your tea. This can also lead to a more bitter or astringent flavor. This is why we always encourage our customers to follow the best brew times for each tea. For more on Brew Times visit here.

Should I take all this information as hard facts?

No, there are many factors that impact all of this information. You would need to test each individual tea against the specific caffeinated products. Our farm's tea may not be the same as another farm's tea. There are a lot of studies out there that explore the compound qualities of tea and coffee but it can be hard to know how accurate that information is when applied to our individual tea.

What is our personal take on all of this?

Tea does hit us more evenly. Coffee hits us in the gut and gives us a stronger boost. Sometimes that boost can make us jittery, we have never had that impact from tea. Tea can make it difficult to go to sleep although, personally I have not had that issue with tea. Synthetic caffeine just sounds scary with all of its chemical ingredients. But this is a bigger issue with processed foods in general and why we are such fans of tea. There is very little processing with regular tea. 

In the end, as tea producers, yes we are a tad biased. We think tea is the best. TO be honest, we do drink coffee from time to time so we are in no way against that. We encourage you to research your options and always do what is best for you.

Want to keep learning about tea check out these other blog write ups.

How is our Black tea made in the USA?

How to make frothed milk for tea.

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