Is Caffeine-Free The Same As Decaf?

Have you ever stood in front of our tea wall and wondered about the difference between caffeine-free, decaf and herbal teas? Read on and wonder no more!


The quick answer to our title question (Is Caffeine-Free The Same As Decaf?) is, “No.” Decaf and caffeine-free are two very different things.

However, before we go on to explain let’s get one thing straight: caffeine-free teas technically don’t exist because all actual tea comes from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant which naturally contains caffeine. Assuming you don’t want caffeinated tea, let’s start by narrowing the choices down to two: decaf or herbal.

Chamomile Twist SpillHerbal teas are really tisanes, or botanical blends that don’t contain any part of the Camellia sinensis plant, and they are naturally free of caffeine. If you’re looking for a true caffeine-free option, herbal teas (tisanes) are the way to go. Decaf teas still contain a small amount of caffeine.

So wait a minute. Are you telling me that the cup of Decaf Earl Grey I drink before bed every night has caffeine in it?

Well, yes, a little bit. It’s impossible to remove all traces of caffeine from the tea leaves and as a result, decaf tea contains about 5-10 mg of caffeine per cup. To give you some perspective, regular tea contains approximately 50 mg of caffeine per cup while coffee contains about 150 mg of caffeine per cup.

Decaf Grey SpillSo, how are decaf teas are made? In both of our decaf teas, Decaf Earl Grey and Decaf Mango, a carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction process is used. Without turning this into a science lesson (because believe us, we’re not science teachers), we’ll give you the basics.

When CO2 is pressurized and reaches high temperatures it liquefies and becomes a solvent that attracts the small caffeine molecules. This solvent is then applied to the tea leaves and after the specified amount of time, the liquid containing the caffeine molecules is poured off leaving the flavorful tea leaves. This completely natural process leaves the tea flavorful and delicious, just less caffeinated!

So, to summarize:

  • Caffeine-Free “teas” don’t exist. All tea leaves contain caffeine.
  • Herbal Teas are really botanicals (tisanes), not tea. These are naturally caffeine free.
  • Decaf Tea is created through a completely natural CO2 pressurization process, and still contains small amounts of caffeine.

If you are looking for a tea that is completely caffeine-free then we suggest you try one of our delicious herbal teas. If you are looking for a tea with a reduced amount of caffeine try either our Decaf Earl Grey or our Decaf Mango, both are delightful.


Post Author: Spice & Tea

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