Which Tea Has the Most Caffeine? Exploring the Caffeine Content of Different Tea Types

woman wondering which tea has the most caffeine

One of the many questions you may have as a tea drinker is probably about caffeine content. Although caffeine is often associated with coffee, it does appear in tea. However, black tea has far less of it than your average cup of coffee. Plus, there are tea varieties that contain even less, or no caffeine. It essentially boils down to how the tea leaves are processed, the temperature of the hot water you use, and the length of time you steep your tea.

In this article, we will break down the tea and caffeine connection.

Understanding Caffeine in Tea

Caffeine is a naturally occurring compound that is present in many different plants. It is also present in tea leaves. Known as a stimulant, which is why it gives many who consume it a kickstart, it can also be detrimental when too much of it is consumed. Caffeine appears in tea leaves as they grow. The tea plant uses caffeine as a defense mechanism for repelling herbivores. The caffeine content increases in the plant tissue as the leaves grow and is only released when the leaves are steeped in hot water.

Tea Types and Caffeine Levels

The caffeine content in tea varies. Different types of tea have different amounts of caffeine. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect the caffeine in tea level to be in various teas.

  • Black Tea: This type of tea usually has the most caffeine with an 8-ounce cup measuring about 40 to 70 milligrams of caffeine. With a robust flavor and deep color, black tea is the most popular of the varieties available.
  • Oolong Tea: This type of tea, with nuanced flavors, sits at about the middle of the caffeine content scale. An 8-ounce cup of oolong tea contains between 30 and 50 milligrams of caffeine.
  • Green Tea: Toward the bottom of the scale is green tea. Known for health benefits and delicate taste, this tea variety measures roughly 20 to 45 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce cup.
  • White Tea: As this is the least processed of the traditional teas, it has far less caffeine. White tea contains 15 to 30 milligrams of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup.
  • Herbal Tea/Tisanes: These teas are not produced from the Camellia sinensis plant and are naturally caffeine-free.

Here’s an approximate range of caffeine content for one cup (8 oz) of various teas:

Type of TeaApproximate caffeine content
for one (8 oz) cup
Black tea40-70mg
Oolong Tea30-50mg
Green Tea20-45mg
White Tea15-30mg
Herbal TeaVery low / negligible
Pu-erh Tea30-70mg
Yellow Tea20-45mg
Matcha Tea30-70 mg
Sencha Tea20-45 mg
Rooibos TeaCaffeine-free
Chamomile TeaCaffeine-free
Ceylon Tea40-70mg
Assam Tea40-70mg
Earl Grey Tea40-70mg
Yerba Mate30-85 mg

While this list is just a guideline, keep in mind that other factors will impact the caffeine content of tea. They include processing methods, place of origin, and how the tea is brewed.

Factors Influencing Caffeine Content

As mentioned, several factors impact the caffeine content in your cup of tea. One of the most significant of them is the grade of the tea leaves used. Whole leaves contain more caffeine than broken or fanning-grade leaves.

Steeping will influence caffeine content in a simple, easy-to-understand way. It has everything to do with how long you allow the tea leaves to steep. Longer steeping times result in more caffeine being released by the tea leaves.

The size of the tea leaves is another factor to consider. Oddly enough, the larger the tea leaves are, the less the amount of caffeine. And finally, the water temperature will alter caffeine extraction. The hotter the water, the more caffeine will be released from the tea leaves.

If you prefer your tea to contain less caffeine, all you have to do is use cooler water and steep for a shorter time. Although the caffeine content varies between tea types, how you prepare your cup of tea will determine the final caffeine content.

What Has the Most Caffeine: Tea or Coffee?

The answer to this question is somewhat complex. Black tea contains a higher caffeine content per ounce than coffee beans, but the actual caffeine content you consume of either comes down to how big your cup is and what method was used to prepare the hot beverage.

In basic terms, an 8-ounce cup of black tea will contain between 40 and 70 milligrams of caffeine. An 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee measures between 80 and 100 milligrams of caffeine. What makes this most interesting is that if you compared coffee beans to tea leaves by weight, tea leaves would have more caffeine than coffee beans.

Which Black Tea Has the Most Caffeine?

There are a couple of tea varieties that top the list of contenders containing the most caffeine. They are Assam and Ceylon. Assam tea comes from India and has a full-bodied flavor and quite the kickstart. The average 8-ounce cup of Assam tea will contain 70 or more milligrams of caffeine. Ceylon tea, which originates in Sri Lanka, has a caffeine level that closely matches that of Assam tea.

Which Tea Has the Least Caffeine?

black tea being poured

Now that we’ve looked at one end of the caffeine scale – the teas that contain the most of it – it is only fitting to explore the other end of that spectrum. There happen to be several teas that have low caffeine amounts. They include the following:

  • Herbal Teas and Tisanes: Herbal infusions are your best bet if you are seeking a tea with minimal caffeine. Chamomile is one example that is not only caffeine-free but contains calming properties. Peppermint tea is another choice that provides a refreshing beverage and minimal caffeine.
  • White Tea: White tea contains less caffeine than all the other true tea types. This is because it is less processed, which preserves the delicate flavor profile it contains and still gives drinkers a mild boost of energy. White tea measures roughly 15 to 30 milligrams of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup.
  • Decaffeinated Teas: These teas are processed in a manner that greatly reduces the amount of caffeine they contain without significantly impacting their flavor. Decaffeinated black tea usually has between 0 and 5 milligrams of caffeine and decaffeinated green teas measure between 0 and 2 milligrams.

Although decaffeinated teas are not completely caffeine-free, they do have far less of it than regular tea varieties. They provide a relaxing hot beverage without the energy boost and are ideal if you tend to react to caffeine negatively. Although flavor may be impacted slightly by the decaffeination process, advances in technology have improved this in recent years.

Choosing Tea Based on Caffeine Preferences

Because different teas contain different caffeine content, you can easily choose the tea that best suits your needs at any particular time. For example, if you require a boost of energy to start your day, a cup of black tea or oolong tea could give you the kickstart you require. However, if you prefer a more relaxed start and are consuming tea for its health benefits, green tea or white tea would be a better fit.

As for the end of the day when you are unwinding, herbal teas or tisanes are the perfect companion to calm your nerves and get you into a mellow state of mind. With many different flavors to choose from, these caffeine-free infusions also boast health benefits minus the buzz of caffeine. Good choices include peppermint, hibiscus, rooibos, and chamomile teas.

Caffeine In Tea FAQs

Is There Caffeine in Tea?

Yes, tea contains caffeine. The amount of caffeine included in tea leaves varies based on the type of tea and the method used to make it. While often less caffeinated than coffee, caffeine is still present in tea. The type of tea plant, the manner of processing, the amount of time spent brewing, and the temperature of the water can all affect how much caffeine is present in tea.

Herbal teas, such as chamomile, peppermint, and rooibos, are often caffeine-free or contain very low levels of caffeine. However, herbal “tea” is technically not derived from the Camellia sinensis plant like traditional teas (black, green, white, and oolong) are.

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that belongs to a class of compounds known as xanthines. It’s found in varying amounts in the seeds, leaves, and fruits of some plants, where it acts as a defense mechanism against pests. Caffeine is most commonly consumed through beverages like coffee, tea, and some soft drinks, as well as in foods like chocolate.

In the human body, caffeine affects the central nervous system, leading to increased alertness and temporary relief from fatigue. It blocks the action of a neurotransmitter called adenosine, which promotes sleep and relaxation. By interfering with adenosine’s effects, caffeine promotes wakefulness and helps to increase focus and cognitive function.


Now that you have a better understanding of the caffeine levels present in tea, you can personalize your next tea adventure. There is a tea type for whatever you need – from a gentle nudge to a bold push. Just remember that the level of caffeine contained in your cup of tea will vary based on tea type, water temperature, origin of the tea leaves, steeping time, and specific processing. All this means that you will just have to do some experimenting on your own by tasting and savoring several different tea varieties and flavors. As much work as that may entail, it doesn’t really sound like work at all!

Leave a Comment