Caffeine – friend or foe?

In the latest in my series about tea for health, I thought it would be good to get to the bottom of the ever-changing approach to caffeine. Is it good for you? Some articles claim that caffeine can support your health, others say it is detrimental – I’d like to investigate and draw my own conclusions.

The truth about caffeine?

Caffeine applied topically can help get rid of cellulite and firm the skin. It’s a key ingredient in many expensive and high street body creams for this very reason. Caffeine is also added to some “Max” or “Ultra” painkillers, such as Paracetamol or Co-Codamol, to speed up the pain relief process.

A little caffeine boost can help when you’ve overindulged a little the night before, or if you’re just downright exhausted.

Tetley's Superteas

Superteas, including Alert, from Tetley

My personal feeling about caffeine is that everyone responds to it differently. Certainly, you shouldn’t be relying on it for an instant energy all day, every day, and this is often an easy trap to fall into. However, the occasional boost, as long as you have not been advised to avoid it, does no harm, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve certainly found my Alert tea from Tetley useful to perk me up in the mornings, which is an everyday tea blend with the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee added.

With Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS for short!) I have to be careful not to have too much – I have had the odd incident when a very large cup of coffee has caused palpitations – although I do find the odd caffeine boost helpful when taking my pain medication and as a much needed pick me up on days when I’m feeling particularly tired and drained.

A good cuppa tea

A nice cup of tea

As a seasoned tea drinker for most of my life, I have never had any problems drinking caffeinated tea, and usually have several cups a day. The levels of caffeine in black tea are higher than in green tea, but still not the same as you will find in a cup of coffee.

In fact, I have it on good authority from a bonafide tea expert that the caffeine in tea is actually different to that in a cup of coffee – Georgia Ginsberg, Director of family run and fabulous tea company, Dragonfly Tea (more on this great tea brand coming soon), discussed the caffeine content in tea when we met recently and said that there is definitely less caffeine in tea and there is actually a difference in the way it is absorbed when compared with coffee. Tea is also full of antioxidants, which are good for your overall health, protection from external factors such as pollution, and assist with anti-ageing and immunity.

Decaff tea from Whittard of Chelsea

One of Whittard of Chelsea’s decaffeinated options

Vouchercloud recently published a very illuminating article on caffeine, which provides some useful and surprising results for the caffeine content of a range of popular drinks, including a variety of different types of tea. It makes for interesting reading – thank you to Vouchercloud and Whittard of Chelsea for providing a wealth of information on the subject. Vouchercloud also has a number of money-off offers at the moment – worth checking out for getting your fix of Whittard’s tea and stocking up on your favourites!

 

 


How much caffeine is in my drink?

Type of Tea Serving Size Caffeine Quantity        Caffeine Level
Black Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 14-90 mg Moderate
Black Tea (Decaffeinated) 240 ml (cuppa) 0-12 mg Low
Darjeeling Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 19-55 mg Moderate
Oolong Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 50-75 mg Moderate
English Breakfast Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 40-70 mg Moderate
Earl Grey Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 55 – 90 mg Moderate
Lady Grey Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 14-40 mg Moderate
Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 12-30 mg Low
Jasmine Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 17-30 mg Low
Lemon Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 12-30 mg Low
Matcha Green Tea 240 ml (cuppa) 70 mg Moderate
White Tea 240 ml (usual size cuppa) 30-50 mg Low
Rooibos Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Peppermint Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Red Berry Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Ginger Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Camomile Tea 240 ml 0 mg Caffeine free
Other Drinks
Coffee 240 ml 150-200mg High
Coca-Cola 330ml (can) 32mg Low
Diet Coke 330ml (can) 42mg Low
Coke Zero 330ml (can) 32mg Low
Coca-Cola Life 330ml (can) 26mg Low
Redbull 250ml (can) 80 mg Moderate
Relentless 500ml (can) 160 mg High

Source: Vouchercloud

Cutting down on caffeine

If you’re looking to cut down on caffeine, but not cut it out completely, there are a number of tasty teas to try. Green tea is lower in caffeine than black tea, thanks to the oxidation process used on the green leaves to turn them into black tea that releases more caffeine from the leaves. White tea is even less processed, so is another good choice. Oolong is the best of both worlds, like a refreshing combination of green and black teas.

Good quality green tea is light and should never be bitter. Be careful how you brew it – don’t use boiling water or leave it to steep too long, or it will taste stewed and bitter. There are a wide variety of flavoured green teas you can try. Floral, relaxing Jasmine Green Tea, combinations of mint and green tea, or fruit flavoured green teas are all good options.

I’ve talked about some of my favourite brands on Tea with Rachael before and mentioned some in here already, but if you are looking for inspiration and a dizzying choice of blends, with or without caffeine, have a look at some of these tried and tested tea brands I enjoy regularly: Dragonfly Tea, Whittard of Chelsea, O-Teas, Teavivre, JollyBrew, Ahmad Tea, Chateau Rouge, Twinings, Clipper, Brew and Bites, The Kent & Sussex Tea and Coffee Co, to name just a few.

Caffeine-free treats

Rooibos and Honeybush

If you’re looking to cut right down or cut out the caffeine completely, there’s still plenty of choice. Naturally healthy Rooibos and Honeybush teas have been used medicinally for years in Africa and are a go-to if you want a comforting, caffeine-free brew, or if you’re feeling a bit under the weather. Peppermint and mint tea blends are caffeine free and great for digestion, helping you beat the bloat after a large meal or overindulging. Also great if you’re if you’re feeling a bit sickly. Ginger tea is also good for digestion and is a safe way to help fight nausea if you’re unwell or suffering from pregnancy sickness.

Lemon and rosemary tea

Lemon and rosemary tea from O-Teas

Herbal teas

Cosy, comforting herbal teas, such as lemon and ginger or lemon and rosemary are great if you have a sore throat, or as a warming cuppa in colder weather. I’m a fan of teas with lavender in, too – a natural antiseptic, whether in a herbal blend or mixed with black tea.

There are also the cold, herbal tea drinks I’ve blogged about before and are naturally caffeine-free – Honest and Tg Teas are refreshing and portable, so you can drink them anytime! More on these lovely tea treats in future posts…

Time for a detox tea?

Another great option if you’re looking for a caffeine free brew is a detox tea range. If you’re looking to drink detox teas for health benefits it’s a good idea to avoid any that have any laxatives or any nasties in them.

A great brand I’ve tried recently is Teagime, which tailors tea blends to your specific needs, to create, yes, you’ve guessed it, your very own Teagime. You fill in a health questionnaire and they blend the teas to support what you’re looking to achieve. In my case, it was avoiding the late afternoon slump, curbing sugar cravings and aiding a good night’s sleep.

Teatime teatox teas

A fabulous box of Teagime Teatox teas and illustrated tea guides

I was delighted to receive a tailored selection of teas from Teagime – one for morning, one for the afternoon, and one for night time. After filling in a questionnaire on their website abut my particular concerns and health requirements, they created blends specific to my requirements.

Everything about the brand is comforting and frankly, looks beautiful – from the information leaflet that comes with your box of teas, to the pink steepers that are provided for the loose leaf teas, to the logo and the look and feel of the website.

Tasty teas from Teagime

Not what you’d expect from a detox tea – the tasty teas from Teagime are a comforting treat!

The teas themselves are tasty, with an unusual choice of fruit and herb-filled flavours and a variety of custom-built blends tailored to you. Impressive, innovative, and highly recommended!

So many wonderful teas to choose from – with or without caffeine! How do you prefer your cuppa?

Until next time, hope you enjoy a nice cup of tea – or two – with or without caffeine, whatever you prefer xx

Refreshingly Honest – An honour to hear about Honest Tea and honesty from a truly ethical entrepreneur

#Refreshinglyhonest
I was truly honoured to be one of a small group of tea bloggers and tea enthusiasts to be invited to the launch of Honest Tea in the UK, the refreshingly healthy, bottled, herbal and fruit tea drink brand from Seth Goldman, ethical entrepreneur and the company’s “TeaEO”.

The UK Honest Tea Launch

Ethical entrepreneur Seth Goldman shares his story at the launch of Honest Tea in the UK (Image Courtesy of Coca-Cola GB)

The setting was modern, intimate and, to quote the brand’s strapline, refreshingly honest. In the unlikely urban oasis environment of trendy Shoreditch venue, Look Mum, no hands! and flanked by a miniature orange grove created especially for the occasion, a row of tables were set out with newly sprouted lemon balm shrubs in vintage packing crates and fantastically tasty, healthy food providing the perfect backdrop for the tasty, refreshing teas.

The miniature orange grove

The miniature orange grove set up for the UK launch of Honest Tea

A delightfully sunny summer’s day was the ideal setting. After a thirsty journey to get to the launch, I was very glad of my first bottle of the Pomegranate and Blueberry variety – a sweet, fruity blend that was just right and matched the food that was served perfectly. I also enjoyed a Honey and Lemon Honest Tea, which was soothing to a hay fever induced scratchy throat.

Honest Tea has a genuinely remarkable story, springing up from humble beginnings around a Maryland kitchen table in 1998 and growing to be the best selling tea in the USA by 2007. The Honest Tea journey and growth shows how a combination of a strong mission, vision and ethics are the key ingredients to a recipe for a successful business that works to make the world a better place. It was fascinating to hear Seth tell us his story with great warmth, honesty, humour and humility.

Some of the UK Honest Tea blends

Lemon with Honey and Pomegranate and Blueberry Honest Tea blends

Seth was also more than happy to share his thoughts, advice and tools of the trade for those launching or looking to run ethical and healthy food and drink businesses, which is certainly refreshing and was sincerely welcomed by the group. You can read the whole story in Seth’s book, Mission in a Bottle –  well worth a read as a tea lover, businessperson, or if you too are an aspiring ethical entrepreneur.

The brand was acquired by Coca-Cola in 2011, but despite this phenomenal growth and success, the company has remained true to its original mission and vision – -a refreshing approach. You can find out more about Seth’s vision, his work as “TeaEO” and the Honest Tea ethos at drinkhonest.co.uk and on the Coca-Cola UK blog.

Seth Goldman shares his story

Hearing about the outlook for the food and drink industry and the remarkable Honest Tea story from its founder, Seth Goldman

Seth believes that the food and drink industry is going through a profound change currently, with a new focus on health and sustainability, without compromising on quality and taste. He describes their original vision as a hope to “shift people’s diets toward organic, authentic beverage recipes that taste ‘just a tad sweet’.” This drive for low sugar and caffeine free products is opening up innovation in tea, in particular, something I will return to on the blog in my series on tea for health. As well as being Certified Organic and approved by the Soil Association, the packaging is fully recyclable and made partially from plant materials from sugar cane. There’s a delicious, “circle of life” feeling to a drink designed to replace sugary drinks coming in packaging made from sugar cane!

The Honest Tea varieties at the launch

Lemon balm – one of  the ethically sourced herbal ingredients in the Honest Tea varieties

This new perspective in the industry poses great opportunities for authentic brands with simple ingredients and a planet and human-friendly ethos. He is also an advisor to and on the board of a number of other like-minded food startups, including a plant-based burger that could be set to challenge the carnivorous options at the BBQ!

Seth is genuinely excited and spoke humbly about Honest launching in the UK, saying, “This is one of those pinch-me moments. We can’t wait to share our drinks with folks in the UK and are confident the Honest name and brand values will translate without the need of an interpreter.”

An amazing afternoon with like minded people and words of wisdom from an inspiring businessman and human being. It will be great to see what’s next for the Honest Tea brand and Seth’s other admirable business ventures.

Honest Tea is stocked in a number of bars and restaurants in the UK (like Look Mum, No Hands!) and can be found in Whole Foods (the first store to buy the fledgling brand in the US in the early days), Co-Op and branches of M&S Simply Food at BP Connect service stations.

Seth Goldman's book, Mission in a Bottle

Seth Goldman’s book, Mission in a Bottle