Tea or coffee is a staple in most households, but how often do you consider the impact this has on your health as part of your wider diet? Most of us reach for a hot drink to wake us up in the mornings to give us an energy boost, or maybe even as a pick-me-up to soothe us through a stressful situation.
Everyone knows that coffee contains a good dose of caffeine, but have you considered the caffeine content of other, seemingly healthier drinks? We wouldn’t be wrong to call green tea the health king or queen of all hot beverages, but have you ever looked into how much caffeine is actually in the good stuff?
If you haven’t, now’s the time to – and we have you covered! Let’s find out how much caffeine is in green tea and whether you should be worried about it.
What is Green Tea? Does Green Tea Contain Caffeine?
Green tea is tea made from the same tea leaves that ‘normal’ black and oolong teas are made from. However, for usual types of tea, the leaves are aged and withered. For green tea, on the other hand, the leaves are fresh and unoxidized.
Green tea is often referred to as a ‘superfood’ (yes, we know it’s a drink!) and even as the ‘elixir of life’. And that’s not unfounded; there’s lots of goodness within this murky tea drink. But as a result of these titles, there’s a common misconception that green tea is caffeine-free – and that’s simply not true. There is caffeine in green tea – in fact, there may be more than you’d expect.
Caffeine-free green tea strains do exist, just as decaffeinated coffees do, but they are few and far between and may have a noticeably different flavour to the green tea you know and love already.
How Much Caffeine is in Green Tea?
Caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical found in the leaves, seeds and fruits of many plants. It can be found not just in coffee, tea, and green tea, but also in lots of foods; albeit in lesser amounts than you could expect to find in a hot drink. The caffeine chemical occurs in over 60 plants.
Caffeine works as a stimulant of the central nervous system and is often consumed as a direct way to keep you awake and feeling alert. This sense of energy is achieved as the chemical blocks the effect of a neurotransmitter called adenosine. Adenosine builds up over the course of the day and makes you feel tired, so blocking it delays fatigue and keeps you feeling brighter for longer. But that’s not all; there are plenty of other health benefits linked to the regular consumption of caffeine including improved brain function, improved athletic performance and increased metabolic function.
The caffeine content within drinks is measured in mg (milligrams). So, to answer the question “how much caffeine is in green tea?”, well – a fair amount! Depending on the brand, strain and strength of the green tea you’re drinking, you can expect to find between 12 and 75 mg per cup.
Caffeine in Green Tea vs Coffee
Of course, if you’re caffeine conscious, you may already be drinking a lot of coffee – or perhaps avoiding it because of its caffeine content. A cup of brewed coffee can contain anywhere from 80-200mg, and with green tea containing between 12-75mg, you’re likely to find about half the caffeine of coffee in a green tea.
If you already drink quite a lot of coffee, it’s unlikely that you’d really feel the caffeinated effects of green tea. On the flipside, if you’re not a coffee drinker, it’s likely you’d feel a nice boost to your mood and alertness upon drinking a fresh brew.
As an aside, decaffeinated coffee is never actually completely caffeine-free – you’ll find between 3-18mg in a cup, so don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a healthy option. You’d actually be much better off with a low-caffeine green tea strain – this way, you can take advantage of the numerous natural health benefits.
Caffeine in Green Tea vs Black Tea
Of course, it’s natural to wonder about the caffeine content of green tea against a ‘normal’ black tea.
The black tea we consume in the UK as English Breakfast Tea contains between 40-120mg of caffeine per cup, depending of course on strain, strength and brand. This is about three quarters of the caffeine content found in a cup of coffee, and not all that much more than found in green tea.
Many green teas contain just as much caffeine as regular tea. If you’re looking for a tea that sits between green tea and ‘normal’ tea in the caffeine scale, oolong is for you – it contains between 50-75mg of caffeine per cup.
If you think you may be consuming too much caffeine and are looking to actively decrease your intake, then working your way downwards through the teas is a good way to do so, without inducing any uncomfortable withdrawal side effects. Go from coffee to black tea to oolong and end on green tea… then get creative and play around with all of the different types and flavour infusions there are of green teas and stick with it!
Should I Worry About Green Tea’s Caffeine Content?
Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world; at least, as far as people will admit!
For most people, this is achieved through the intake of coffee or tea. As it’s so common, there have been numerous medical studies into the safety of caffeine and exactly how much constitutes a safe amount for regular human consumption. Whilst the basis of the studies all vary slightly, it seems widely accepted that 400mg of caffeine is a safe amount of the chemical for daily intake.
400mg of caffeine is about three cups of coffee but is equivalent to about six or seven cups of green tea. This means you can enjoy this beautiful beverage to your heart’s content, without needing to worry about any unfortunate side effects of too much caffeine. Energy drinks contain about 30mg of caffeine per 100g of liquid, but are mixed with so many other sugary and energy-boosting ingredients (most of them synthetic) that you’ll feel the ‘buzz’ of it almost right away. Green tea is a considerably healthier option than sugar-filled energy drinks, but its power won’t be as upfront, so you may need some time to get used to it.
There’s really no need to worry about the caffeine content of green tea. Its brilliant benefits (which we’ll come on to shortly!) and delicious taste far outweigh any negative connotations toward caffeine.
Potential Side Effects of Caffeine
As caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, too much of it can overstimulate the body. It’s highly unlikely to be an issue with green tea, but if you were to drink too much caffeine (say, from lots of coffee), there are some side effects that you could expect to experience.
While caffeine blocks adenosine, it releases adrenaline too. Adrenaline is your ‘flight or fight’ hormone, but too much of it over a prolonged period of time can enhance your ‘on-edge’ feelings and increase anxiety levels.
Many people find a good dose of caffeine helps kick start their bowel movements, particularly in the mornings. This is because caffeine releases gastrin, a hormone that boosts metabolism and speeds up colon activity. Too much caffeine will release a lot of this hormone; so if you’ve already got a dodgy tummy, lay off it!
The ‘buzz’ that lots of caffeine gives people, often from frequent consumption of coffee and/or energy drinks, means that consuming it tends to become a habit. Although lots of people make reference to a ‘caffeine addiction’, it doesn’t actually form addictions in the same way other substances do. However, rapid withdrawal from caffeine can cause uncomfortable side effects, and so should be avoided. A phased approach to caffeine withdrawal is always preferable to an immediate, total stop, so weaning yourself onto green tea as a black tea or coffee alternative is a great way to reduce your intake.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
There are a number of fantastic health benefits associated with drinking green tea – after all, it is a ‘superfood’!
As green tea has been around for such a long time, there has been plenty of time for studies and trials into its blends and benefits to be conducted. It’s believed to be the healthiest beverage on the planet, and this, in part, is due to the amount of compounds from the leaves that end up in the finished drink. As the leaves aren’t aged like they are in black tea, all of the goodness transfers straight across.
One of the most important plant compounds found in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (or just EGCG). EGCG is a powerful ingredient and has been shown to fight various diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
Alongside the caffeine in green tea, which stimulates the central nervous system and gives you a feeling of alertness, green tea also contains l-theanine, which is an amino acid. This works with the caffeine to give an improved mental state and brain capability. It’s true – you’ll be feeling sharper than ever after a cup of the green stuff!
Mental stimulation and performance aside, there’s also reason to believe that green tea is great for physical fitness. It’s been proven to boost metabolic rate and burn fat, increase fat oxidation, increase physical endurance, and improve overall physical performance. This makes green tea an efficient (and delicious!) beverage accompaniment to a healthy lifestyle and nourishing diet, particularly if you have a weight loss goal or maintenance in mind.
The Bottom Line
Green tea is one of the oldest and most widely consumed drinks in the world. And considering it’s full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and amino acids, it’s one of the healthiest, too. The health benefits of green tea have been widely studied and proven, and continue to be enjoyed by consumers worldwide.
Not everyone loves the natural flavour of green tea, but there’s no need to worry if you don’t. Matcha green tea powder can be added to lots of dietary supplements and, nowadays, there are lots of flavour infusions available in health shops and supermarket shelves alike.
We too believe in the power of green tea, which is why the Nutribuddy Breakfast Shake contains matcha green tea. Matcha is a concentrated powder made from the ground tea leaves and whilst it still contains all of the nutrients and goodness of green tea, it doesn’t maintain the matcha taste. This is ideal, as although we love the taste of green tea, we know it’s not for everyone! Instead, you’ll find matcha green tea in all of our smooth flavour varieties, meaning you can take advantage of a caffeine boost to keep you awake, alongside a mega dose of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Now that green teas have grown in popularity and matcha tea powder is used in so much, you’re more likely than ever to find a blend that suits you – there are hundreds of flavours and infusions out there! If you find that it’s not for you, no worries. Just stick to healthy supplements, such as our Breakfast Shake, which include matcha green tea powder. That way, you can make sure you get your natural healthy boost of tea in one way or another!