Finding the lowest caffeine tea can be a daunting task, but very important if your goal is to lower your overall caffeine intake. In this article, we are going to be making a list of the tea with lowest caffeine and ranking each of them by how much caffeine they contain per serving. We will also give you tips on how to find the lowest caffeine tea and how to prepare a tea that has less caffeine. Let’s get started!
List of the lowest caffeine teas
#1 Herbal tea: chamomile, ginger and peppermint
Of course the tea with lowest caffeine would have to be the caffeine free herbal infusions. These are technically not considered teas because they are not from the camelia sinensis plant, but we thought we would include them on the lowest caffeine tea list anyways to give you a caffeine free alternative.
Rather than being called teas, these herbal infusions are referred to as “tisanes” which comes from the greek word “ptisane” meaning crushed barley. Almost all of these drinks are caffeine free, with some notable exceptions we will discuss later in our lowest caffeine tea list.
#2 White tea
White tea can often be a tea with lowest caffeine although it doesn’t have to be. The name “white tea” comes from the silver buds of the tea plant that are often used in white tea blends. White tea is not simply a tea made from buds, but rather a solar withered tea with minimal processing. The tea leaves are picked and dried out in the sun to slow the oxidation process. A white tea made with just the older more mature leaves will be the lowest caffeine tea and the tea made from just the white buds will be the highest caffeine tea.
#3 Green tea
Green tea is a broad category, encompassing some of the lowest caffeine tea as well as some of the highest caffeine tea.
In this segment, we are going to cover a few of the different types of green tea with lowest caffeine.
Genmaicha is a popular blended tea made by combining toasted rice with green tea leaves. This originated as a way to save money and make tea supplies last longer, but it soon became celebrated as a great tasting tea in its own right. The toasted rice gives it these nice tasting notes of warm cereal and popcorn that can be quite pleasant both in the morning as well as the afternoon. Because the toasted rice doesn’t contain any caffeine and the tea is often made from older leaves, these teas tend to be very low in caffeine, with an 8oz cup containing around 18mg of caffeine. A small cup of coffee will have around 100mg of caffeine, so genmaicha is definitely on the lower end of the caffeine spectrum
Kukicha is another green tea with lowest caffeine. The caffeine is produced by the tea plant in order to protect the leaves from the insects. Because the leaves are more vulnerable, the caffeine is concentrated around the leaves and not the stems. Teas made by combining stems and leaves are therefore much lower in caffeine, and they can have a unique flavor to them with notes of summer grass and straw.
Sometimes the addition of the stems can create a milder, more drinkable tea without these powerful vegetable notes. A good example of this is a tea like Karigane, made from the stems and leaves of the Gyokuro plant. While many first time green tea drinkers find Gyokuro to be a bit overpowering, Karigane is a great beginners tea because it balances out the leaves with the stems. It also brings the caffeine content down, so you can enjoy it later on in the day. A regular Kukicha made from unshaded tea plants will have about 18 milligrams of caffeine per cup, but because Karigane is made from shaded tea plants, it can have up to 33 milligrams of caffeine. This still makes both of these stem teas quite low in caffeine and definitely suitable for those who are sensitive to it.
Next we come to one of the more interesting teas on this list and that is Hojicha. Hojicha is one of the lowest caffeine tea types in Japan. Hojicha is a roasted green tea, made by turning the dried leaves and stems of the tea plant in a large pan or in a roasting machine. Like with Genmaicha and Kukicha, this began as a way to make the tea harvest last longer.
The leaves and stems not sold in the more premium Gyokuro and Sencha teas were roasted to make a wonderful hojicha tea. This method began to rise in popularity in the 20th century and now it is one of the more common types of Japanese tea. The roasting process gives the tea these warmer notes of coffee caramel and chocolate that are quite enjoyable, particularly on a cold day. The leaves and stems used to make hojicha tend to be lower in caffeine anyways, but they also lose some of their caffeine during the roasting process itself. This brings the total caffeine content down to around 20mg or 1/5 of a cup of coffee.
Bancha is the second most popular green tea in Japan after sencha. It’s made from the older, more mature leaves of the tea plant. Bancha is also one of the lowest caffeine tea types in Japan As we mentioned before, the tea plant produces caffeine as a defense mechanism to protect itself against insects, but this is mostly to protect the younger more vulnerable leaves. These older leaves are tougher, and therefore they don’t require as much protection. As a result, Bancha has around 30 mg of caffeine per cup. It also has a really pleasant flavor to it, with notes of warm wood and popcorn. It makes for a nice snacking tea, as it pairs well with popcorn and mixed nuts. This is definitely something to enjoy at the end of a long day, and it is sometimes drunk alongside a meal to help with digestion.
Matcha Green Tea Latte
Finally we come to the last tea on our list and that is Matcha Green Tea Latte. While matcha has more caffeine compared to some of the other ones on this list, it doesn’t have as much as you might think. With this latte grade matcha, you get 34 mg of caffeine per teaspoon of powder. This means you can easily enjoy a nice matcha latte in the morning without overdoing it on the caffeine. Latte grade matcha is one of the lowest caffeine tea types in powdered form, much lower than ceremonial grade.
Ceremonial grade matcha like the matcha seisui and matcha washimine are going to be quite high in caffeine. These teas are made from earlier harvests which gives them a smoother flavor and more caffeine. If you are mixing your matcha latte with oat milk or soy milk, you actually don’t want the flavor to be that smooth otherwise the flavor of the tea will be drowned out by the matcha. So if you like matcha lattes in the morning, I’m sure you’ll be relieved to know that you can keep enjoying them without getting overly caffeinated
#4 Oolong tea
Oolong tea tends to be made from the older leaves of the tea plant making it one of the lowest caffeine tea types. Oolong is perhaps the most processed of the tea types, so it is possible to use older tea leaves and still end up with a smooth, flavorful tea. While white teas and green teas are really a celebration of the simplicity of tea, oolong is more about nuance and complexity. The leaves are bruised to bring the enzymes to the surface of the leaf and speed up the oxidation. Then they are heated to stop the oxidation. The end result is a tea that is partially oxidized, and it can take on these flowery or even spicy flavor profiles.
As you may know by now, the lowest caffeine tea would be one that is made from older leaves so oolong can fit the bill here. The high mountain oolong will be the tea with lowest caffeine and oolongs that use buds will be the highest caffeine tea.
#5 Black tea
Black teas are fully oxidized, meaning that after they are picked they are allowed to oxidize naturally. During this oxidation process, the enzymes convert the catechins into theaflavins and thearubigins. Black tea isn’t necessarily the tea with lowest caffeine or the tea with highest caffeine, but it actually encompasses a broad range. A black tea made with the buds of the tea plant like a Jin Jun Mei can be quite high in caffeine, whereas a black tea made from the older leaves will be among the lowest caffeine tea types.
#6 Pu-erh or Heicha
Dark teas or post fermented teas can be some of the lowest caffeine tea types. This is because these teas are mostly made with older tea leaves and they can be fermented for years after packaging.
During the post-fermentation process, the caffeine in the leaves are broken down, meaning that the tea aged for the longest time will be the lowest caffeine tea and the tea aged for the shortest time will be the highest caffeine tea in terms of Heicha.
Does matcha have caffeine? Yes! Premium ceremonial matcha is one of the highest caffeine teas you can find. Rather than being infused like a normal leaf tea, matcha powder is mixed directly into water. This means that you can increase the caffeine content simply by adding more powder into the water. A regular serving of matcha will include about 2 grams of powder and 136 milligrams of caffeine.
If you are preparing koicha or thick matcha, you would use less water and 4 grams of matcha powder. This creates a matcha paste that has 272 milligrams of caffeine. This koicha matcha is consumed during special tea ceremonies and should only be made out of the smoothest matcha powder. If you would like to make your own koicha, we recommend you use the matcha washimine or nakai superior matcha to avoid the bitterness.
#8 Mate & Guayusa
Mate and Guayusa are two species of holly plants native to South America. They both contain high levels of caffeine and have been used as stimulants for hundreds of years. Because Mate and Guayusa don’t come from the tea plant, camelia sinensis, they cannot be considered true teas. While most tisanes tend to be tea with lowest caffeine, this has the highest caffeine, even more than a high caffeine green tea.
One cup of yerba mate can contain 180mg of caffeine, while Guayusa can contain even more. This has a lot to do with the preparation, as the drink is typically prepared with a very high leaf to water ratio. First, you fill up a gourd ⅔ of the way up with leaves and then pour hot water in. The drink can then be enjoyed with a bombilla or metal straw that filters out the leaves automatically.
What about decaf tea?
There is actually no such thing as decaf tea. In order to be considered a tea, it has to come from the tea plant, camelia sinensis. This plant produces caffeine in the sprouts, leaves and stems so anything made from this plant will contain some level of caffeine. Of course you can artificially remove caffeine from this tea with a decaffeinating process, but the tea will still retain some percentage of its original caffeine.
If you really want to find the tea with lowest caffeine you can go for the kuki hojicha. This tea is made almost entirely of stems and it is roasted which lowers the caffeine content even further.
How Much Caffeine Is in Tea?
The amount of caffeine in tea depends on a few different factors, which we will discuss later. For simplicity sake, a leaf tea can range anywhere from 8mg of caffeine to 140mg of caffeine per serving. The lowest caffeine tea would be something like a roasted kukicha and the highest caffeine tea would be a saemidori gyokuro like the gyokuro cha meijin.
What Factors Influence the Caffeine Content of Tea
There are a few different factors that influence the caffeine content of a tea and some are more important than others. If you are searching for the tea with lowest caffeine, you may find this list helpful when it comes to searching for it.
There can be slight variations in caffeine content between tea varietals or cultivars. For example, our most popular gyokuro, the gyokuro cha musume from the Yabukita cultivar will have around 130mg of caffeine per serving whereas the saemidori gyokuro cha meijin will have 140mg per serving. This may not seem like it is a big deal, but if you are really searching for the tea with lowest caffeine it can make all the difference.
When the tea is harvested can also make a difference in the total caffeine content. The first harvest tea will have the most nutrients, most sweetness and most caffeine. If you want the tea with lowest caffeine, you will want to select a later harvest tea.
Different growing practices can also affect the caffeine content of a tea. Most notably, when a farmer shades the tea plant, it will produce more caffeine. This is why shaded teas like gyokuro and matcha tend to be the highest in caffeine. When it comes to finding the tea with lowest caffeine, you will want to go for one that is unshaded.
The caffeine content contained within the leaves can’t be added to during the production process, but it can be reduced. The roasting process will reduce the caffeine content and so will the aging process. This is why teas like hojicha and puerh tend to be lower in caffeine. If you are looking for the lowest caffeine tea, you will need to go for one that is roasted.
Of course the person preparing the tea also has an influence in how much caffeine it has. If you use hotter water, more caffeine will be extracted and if you use cooler water or cold water, you will extract less caffeine. If your goal is to make the ultimate lowest caffeine tea, you can try cold brewing to extract less caffeine from the leaves.
Similar to water temperature, steep time also impacts the amount of caffeine extracted from the leaves. The hotter you brew the tea and the longer time you brew the tea, the more caffeine you will extract. So if you are trying to prepare the tea with lowest caffeine possible, you can shorten the brewing time as well.
Amount of Tea Leaves
There is one final factor you have influence over and that is the amount of tea leaves you use or the leaf to water ratio. Of course if you use less tea leaves, there is less caffeine to extract. This being said, you will want to use a higher leaf to water ratio to get a richer flavor out of the tea. In other words, if your priority is the make the tea with lowest caffeine, you can use less leaves but if you want the tea with the most flavor, you should use more leaves.
Top healthy tea with the lowest caffeine
If you are looking for the lowest caffeine tea but also don’t want to miss out on the flavor and health benefits, you can try out a few of these tisanes. Although these are not technically teas, they still can add a little extra fun to your morning routine, without adding extra caffeine.
Rooibos tea is made from the rooibos plant which is a shrub native to south africa. This plant is ground and roasted to give this tisane a rich red color.
The drink has a woody sweetness with notes of cedar and a smooth finish. The tea can actually help the body with the absorption of iron so it is a great drink to have alongside a meal.
Hibiscus tea is perhaps the most flavorful of the tisanes. It is made from dried hibiscus flowers and it has a tart and sweet cherry flavor to it.
It is great to serve this tea cold and it can help with blood pressure as well as add a lot of vitamin c to your daily intake. If you’re looking for the tea with lowest caffeine for the summertime, this might be it!
Chamomile tea is perhaps the most famous lowest caffeine tea.
This herbal infusion is made from dried chamomile flowers, and it is often drunk before bed to help with sleep.
This tisane can really be a soothing part of your evening ritual, and help improve your sleep overtime.
Turmeric is another great tisane to enjoy at any time of the day. This is made from turmeric roots and these roots have a long history of being used to treat joint pain and inflammation.
They also give a bright orange color and a spicy flavor to the infusion, so it is commonly used as an additive in other types of tisanes.
Which Japanese green tea has low caffeine?
If you are searching for the tea with lowest caffeine in Japan, you will want to take a look at teas like bancha, genmaicha, kukicha and hojicha. Bancha is made from the older tea leaves, genmaicha is mixed with toasted rice, kukicha is made with tea stems and hojicha is roasted. All of these factors bring the levels of caffeine down, which makes these some of the lowest caffeine tea types.
How much caffeine is in a cup of tea vs coffee?
Coffee can have anywhere between 95mg-120mg of caffeine per small cup. This is useful as a comparison because it has more caffeine than most cups of tea, except for a small handful. Gyokuro can have between 120mg-140mg of caffeine per cup, making it an extremely high caffeine tea. Matcha can have between 68-272mg of caffeine depending on how you prepare it.
You won’t feel the same jolt from tea as you do with coffee because of the l-theanine. L-theanine slows the absorption of caffeine so instead of getting a lot of energy all at once and a crash later on in the day, you get a long lasting, calm alert sensation throughout the day. This can be really helpful during long periods of work and study.