Tea and Caffine

Caffeine, a member of the xanthine family of chemicals, is naturally present in coffee, cocoa, tea and many other plants. It is slightly bitter to the taste and is extremely hot water soluble. This means, of course, that the caffeine that naturally occurs in tea is released through steeping in hot water.

Caffeine, in moderation, can have positive effects on the body, including boosting awareness and kindling metabolism. It can also improve your mood by boosting dopamine levels.

In fact, there are a number of positive and negative physiological effects of caffeine consumption that would be useful to explore here:

The positive effect of boosting awareness and kindling metabolism caused by caffeine stimulating the central nervous system can also lead to nervousness, irregular heartbeats and interrupted sleep.

Caffeine has been proven to act as a mild bronchodilator. Because of this, it has potential to be used as an asthma treatment. Conclusions from a recent study suggested that caffeine seemed to be responsible for improved airway function in asthmatics for up to four hours after consuming it.

Some diehard caffeine addicts have noticed withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, fatigue and headaches, when they cease caffeine consumption abruptly. These symptoms are usually brief and go away after about a day. Caffeine drinkers can usually avoid them altogether if they gradually decrease their caffeine consumption over a few days.

On the other hand, those who suffered from routine headaches found that a mixture of caffeine and ibuprofen was better at relieving headaches than either substance alone. However, because headaches can be a symptom of caffeine withdrawal, researchers still urged chronic headache sufferers to avoid caffeine as much as possible.

Many researchers have tried to determine if there is a link between caffeine consumption and certain diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and Parkinson’s disease. So far, they have yet to establish any real link between caffeine consumption and the incidence of any cancer or heart disease. In addition, observational studies seemed to suggest that, far from being a causal factor, caffeine might have a part to play in warding off Parkinson’s disease. This is a preliminary finding, but scientists are preparing further studies to determine the exact method by which this might occur.

As long as an expectant mother maintains a moderate caffeine intake, it doesn’t appear that her caffeine consumption during pregnancy will harm the fetus in any way. However, caffeine does enter the mother’s breastmilk, and over time, it can build up in a newborn baby’s blood stream. Infant sleeplessness and hyperactivity can result from a steady diet containing caffeine levels found in six to eight cups of coffee per day. Drinking one cup of tea, of course, won’t bring you close to this level, but it might be best to avoid caffeine altogether while breastfeeding.

Despite some of the negative publicity that has surfaced about caffeine, a moderate intake of caffeine equal to 300mg per day (or six cups of tea) shows no evidence of detrimental side effects in most adults. Consequently, the average adult can easily drink three to four cups of tea per day and still remain well within the consumption level considered safe. However, some adults experience sensitivity to caffeine, and therefore may want to limit their intake.

The amount of caffeine in a cup of tea varies, depending on the type of tea leaf used and the preparation method used to make the tea.

Tea leaves range in caffeine content from 1.4 to 4.5 percent of their overall weight. Every tea contains caffeine, and many different factors -- such as the chemistry of the soil, altitude and the type of tea plant -- help to determine the amount of caffeine present in the leaf. Even something as simple as where the leaf is positioned on the tea bush can have an effect on the amount of caffeine. For example, leaves from the lower part of the tea bush generally have slightly less caffeine than those from the upper portion of the bush.

The method of tea preparation can also have an effect on caffeine content. The factors here include the amount of tea leaves used, the temperature of the water, and the amount of time the tea leaves are steeped. For instance, the longer you steep tea leaves in hot water, the more of its caffeine will be released. Also, surprisingly, teas with smaller leaves emit more caffeine than those with larger leaves.

If you are particularly sensitive to caffeine and would like to lessen the amount of it in your tea, we suggest you try the following:

Begin by steeping your tea leaves in hot water for 45 seconds. (The vast majority of the caffeine in any tea will be released in 30 seconds of steeping.) Drain the liquid from the leaves, then add fresh water and brew for the desired time. Enjoy!