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How is Tea Decaffeinated?

All tea naturally has caffeine, with some teas like black tea containing more caffeine than white tea, for example. However, through the course of history, we have found ways to not only decaffeinate tea, but also make tea caffeine free. While some tea drinkers may use these terms interchangeably, they are not synonymous. In fact, decaffeinated tea still contains a small amount of caffeine. Decaffeinated tea goes through a process where a majority of the caffeine is decreased in the tea, this can be done in four primary ways.

The Process of Making Decaf Tea

The Process of Making Decaf Tea

There are four main methods to decaffeinate tea, these include methylene chloride, ethyl acetate, carbon dioxide, and water processing.

Methylene Chloride: Through this method, the tea leaves are soaked in methylene chloride. The molecules of caffeine will actually bond with the methylene chloride and leave the tea leaves strong in flavor and with their natural oils. This method is known for leaving tea leaves with their original flavor, but it is not necessarily the healthiest method.

Ethyl Acetate: The use of ethyl acetate is often referred to as natural decaffeination because ethyl acetate is naturally found in tea. Similar to methylene chloride, the caffeine is extracted by soaking the tea leaves. Many tea bags are decaffeinated this way.

Carbon Dioxide: Most loose leaf teas and tea sachets are decaffeinated through the carbon dioxide method. Through this method, the natural flavors of the tea and its health benefits are retained. In the simplest terms, the tea is pressure cooked with carbon dioxide allowing the caffeine molecules to be extracted. However, the flavor molecules remain intact through this decaffeination method.

Water Processing: Although not the primary method for decaffeination, water processing may be used for some teas. It is typically more popular when decaffeinating coffee. The tea leaves are soaked in water to remove the caffeine molecules and then the water is reabsorbed later to restore the tea flavor and oil. Many people believe tea that has been water processed tastes water down and does not have all the original flavors.

Find Your Favorite Decaffeinated & Caffeine Free Teas

The best decaf teas really come down to your favorite flavors and types of tea. At the Art of Tea, we pride ourselves on offering a wide range of teas, both in loose leaf and tea sachets. We want all of our customers to love tea and its health benefits as much as we do. For questions about our teas, never hesitate to contact the Art of Tea.